Birmingham City Council success with SMS-based competition

Birmingham City Council has selected an autonomous web-based SMS solution from Text Messaging Centre (TMC) to provide local residents with the option to instantly enter its latest competition via SMS. By implementing the SMS solution for a recent street naming competition, Birmingham City Council has been able to reach a wide audience and as a result has seen a greater uptake in entrants.

An important part of Birmingham City Council’s mission is to communicate effectively with the public and ensure local community involvement in local projects. Tammy Palmer, communications officer for transportation and street services at Birmingham City Council, explained: “We run a number of campaigns throughout the year to enable the local community to have an active involvement in the development of Birmingham. Our most recent campaign was to provide citizens with the opportunity to suggest street names for a new development within the city. The selected names will then be allocated to contractors and provides residents with the opportunity to contribute to local landmarks.”

Palmer continued: “We quickly realised that we needed to offer new ways of communicating with the public in order to get the levels of response that we wanted to achieve for the new project. From personal experience of entering competitions via SMS, I knew this was a successful medium that was popular with many people. As such I began to look into how we could provide the same facility for Birmingham City Council’s street naming competition.

“By selecting TMC’s SMS solution we were then able to move away from previous campaign activities such as direct mail and leaflet drops, which are expensive to produce and require a lot of resource, and focus on providing a text messaging facility instead. In order to raise awareness of the campaign and the new text facility we included the short-code number on posters around the city, to inform residents of how they can easily submit their entries via SMS.”

Due to the instantaneous nature of SMS, residents could text into the competition wherever they saw the poster. Palmer commented: “Most people enter competitions when they are either bored, waiting around or have some spare time on their hands. SMS offers people the ability to enter quickly and effectively with minimal effort. Through offering this medium we have seen a greater level of participation in the competition and it has been commended as one of the most successful campaigns in terms of number of entrants at the council to date.

“Using the SMS solution from TMC has also greatly facilitated the management of the entry process. The easy-to-use desktop interface enables us to review entries on a day-by-day basis or even hour-by-hour, allowing the council to easily evaluate street name suggestions, see the levels of entries at any given moment and have a record of the entrants’ mobile numbers for any follow-up activity.”

Palmer concluded: “We are continually researching and implementing new technologies at Birmingham City Council that allow us to communicate more effectively and efficiently with the local community. By using SMS we have seen just how the latest tools can be integrated to enable immediate engagement from a wider audience and create greater interest from the public.”

Peter Tanner, managing director of TMC commented: “SMS offers many organisations and businesses the opportunity to communicate effectively with their target audience, and I am extremely pleased that Birmingham City Council is achieving such great results from SMS. We look forward to continually working with Birmingham City Council to establish other areas of the organisation that can benefit from implementing SMS into their existing workflow.”