We have designed two political communication activities based on our BoB Playlist, each lasting approximately 1 to 1.5 hours long. The first activity is a media analysis task, where students engage in-depth with video clips from the GE2019 election campaign to understand policy content within context, through language and stylistic nuances by political actors and journalists.
The second exercise is a scenario-based campaign design task, where students draw on the video clips for information on healthcare policy proposed by Conservative and Labour political parties. Students will watch the video clips, and from the perspective of different stakeholders, prepare a policy to either support or oppose suggestions presented.
Pick a small selection of clips from the playlist and watch them with your class. You can either choose clips from different broadcasters covering the same manifesto policy, or different manifesto policies from different parties covered by the same broadcaster.
After watching the coverage, organise students into pairs or in small groups to discuss the following questions, before sharing with everyone else.
How is the news story introduced and how does it end? Consider language, tone, style and how they are used throughout by the reporter to explain the policy and the latest events of the campaign.
How clearly and in-depth is the healthcare manifesto policy explained by both the politicians and the journalists? Is there anything that could help make the content of the story more accessible and informative?
Which sources are used in the story, who gets to speak in the report? Is there anyone (organisation or individual) whose views you feel should have been included in the report?
Are there any visuals such as background images or charts embedded in the report? What purpose do they serve? Are they effective in helping the public understand the context of the policy? Would you consider including more or different visual tools?
After the discussion of the four questions, have two teams join each other to form a larger team. Together they now form the editorial board of a UK broadcaster of your choice (e.g. BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5 or Sky News):
Note: Different teams could represent different broadcasters.
In these groups, the students are meeting to revise the editorial strategy to cover the election campaign underway. Have them design the coverage with the following items in mind as they discuss:
- • Access to and interviews with party candidates and other sources
- • Compliance with balance, accuracy and impartiality regulations
- • Newsroom’s organisation, policy research and daily news agenda
- • Engagement with the public (e.g. social media strategy)
The UK Election Campaign is underway and the two main parties, Conservative and Labour, are discussing the best way to manage healthcare in the UK in their manifestoes. This task will have students designing and debating different perspectives of healthcare policy by representing different political actors. Watching the videos on the playlist with your students, have students take notes on what the two parties are saying in their policy suggestions.
Students can then be divided into 3 types of teams of 4 or 5 using breakout rooms. Some examples are included in the brackets.
- • Journalists from a newspaper (The Guardian, The Times, The Sun)
- • Party campaigners (Lib Dems, Green Party, Women’s Equality Party)
- • Lobby groups (APPG Healthcare, NHS Support Federation)
Note: This can be modified to fit larger or smaller groups of students. With smaller groups of students, you can choose to have students represent fewer teams (e.g. only journalists and party campaigners) or have small groups of students in each group. With larger groups of students, you can have students represent newspapers with different political leanings (E.g. The Guardian, The Times), as well as campaigners from parties with different values (E.g. Liberal Democrats, Green Party)
In their teams, students have to design a campaign to either support or oppose the policies proposed by the two main parties. Explain to students that their tasks are the following
- 1. Represent your organisation and what their aims are. Use this to decide on how to craft your message.
- 2. Consider the evidence. Students can also look up more information if they have time for this.
- 3. Craft your campaign message and make sure it stands out.
After 30 minutes you can have the groups return to the main group and present their campaigns to each other, and ask each other questions.
Some additional material you could send round to your students Things to think about when creating a winning campaign
- • Know your opponents well
Make sure you do your research on what your opposition are saying. Which segments of the public are they targeting and how? Familiarise yourself with what they are saying, what messages they are sending, and how they are doing it. Remember, it’s not just the message but the platform that matters as well.
- • Craft a contrasting campaign slogan
Differentiate yourself from your competitors by creating a short, pithy, and unique slogan or catchphrase that encapsulates the gist of your message. Accompany this with an eye-catching poster or design.
- • Make sure your campaign and message is inclusive
The public is made up of diverse individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and priorities. It is important that your campaign can appeal to different groups of people by bringing them in, rather than isolating them. This can also shape the way you choose to deliver your message, either through the newspaper, radio/podcast, or social media platforms.