Nottingham City Council has been praised for its work to increase the number of people having the Covid-19 vaccine.

A targeted digital campaign run by the council with the NHS and local authorities across Nottinghamshire has won ‘Gold’ in the Public Service Communications Awards 2021.

Organised by the Government Communication Service, which is part of the Cabinet Office, the awards recognised the work in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire to encourage more people to get vaccinated – especially in diverse communities and among younger people.

The vaccination campaign aimed to:

  • Reassure people that Covid-19 vaccines had been rigorously tested.
  • Be honest about short-term side effects.
  • Counter misinformation about long-term effects.
  • Focus on building trust with local health services by complementing NHS campaigns.

Run in partnership with the Council Advertising Network and Westminster Council, the campaign used bespoke digital advertising to target people who might be hesitant. The programme of adverts ran in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire over three months from May to July 2021. The campaign results were:

  • 1.5 million people reached with the adverts
  • 400,000 people interacted (watched, liked, shared)
  • 90,000 followed the link to the NHS online information and the option to book online.

Local NHS data was used to match interactions with the campaign adverts with spikes in bookings for vaccinations.

Lucy Hubber, Director of Public Health in Nottingham, said: “We’ve been working hard this year to support the NHS with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine programme. This has been a challenge in Nottingham: we have a diverse city where English isn’t always the first language spoken – as well as a younger population who initially felt that the virus didn’t affect them and mostly targeted older people. Uptake of the vaccine has been lower in the city and so we have found new ways to get messages into different communities and neighbourhoods.

“One of these was an innovative digital advertising campaign, led by the city council’s Communications and Marketing Team working with partners in the NHS and other local councils, which encouraged people to come forward for their jab. This is an excellent example of engaging with our citizens on important issues in the right way and through the right channels.”

The campaign was run locally in conjunction with Nottinghamshire County Council, Notts Police, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Gedling Borough Council, Ashfield District Council, Broxtowe Borough Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council, Bassetlaw District Council, Mansfield District Council, and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

John-Paul Danon, of CAN Digital Solutions, said: “With people in lockdown in their own homes, relying on online information more than ever, they were more susceptible to misinformation. Ofcom found adults as likely to use social media for their Covid-19 information as news channels.

“Local government social media reaches only around 10% of residents, yet 94%-plus adults in the UK are online. So, a paid-for “programmatic advertising first” strategy was adopted for the campaign (buying ad space on websites and social channels via real-time bidding). Programmatic ads can reach local audiences on their mobile phones and other devices, cutting across their whole online experience.”

Vaccinations can still be booked (first, second and booster jabs) by visiting: