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North Shore City Council’s Youth Destinations Programme

Introduction

The North Shore City Council Youth Destinations programme aims to get more 10-15 year olds active in their unstructured leisure time. Partnerships with schools, clubs and other community organisations are used to deliver events and opportunities for physical activity.

These events are supported by innovative marketing tools with the aim of reducing physical and social barriers to participation.

‘In2it’ is a prime example of one of the marketing tools being used to help connect young people with a range of events, clubs, and facilities in the North Shore area. This project is not just about providing physical activity, it’s about connecting with the youth demographic in ways that are contemporary, relevant and “street”, through multimedia, music, friends, and adding physical activity into the mix.

It’s a technologically and socially savvy project which is supported by a website at its hub, and a range of other technologies to engage young people and their parents.

This case study looks at the ‘In2it’ brand, strategies used to market Youth Destinations, and some operational aspects and lessons from the Youth Destinations programme to date.

Connecting with young people: social marketing strategy and the ‘In2it’ brand

To raise awareness of the Youth Destinations project and the physical activities available to young people in North Shore City, a social marketing strategy was developed. A key influence in the development of this strategy was Sport NZ’s publication “It’s all about children and young people” (PDF, 202 Kb) (2007) (PDF).

Youth Destinations has identified and incorporated themes that offer personal benefits for a young person to be physically active. These themes focus on socialising, fun, family, increased confidence and enjoyment from participation.

Youth Destinations and ‘In2it’ project manager, Dan Kane explains, “the brand is more than a logo, it’s a whole wavelength”. The brand takes a holistic approach to physical activity, which follows youth culture and speaks to young people in their own language.

To help develop the brand Dan sat down with a youth-focused design team and worked through a range of concepts. The logo came from the work of street artists’ images at a local skate park.

So local youth ‘own’ the logo, but it can also be re-written “how you want”. It’s flexible and adaptive to its audience.

Connecting through technology

Web

www.in2it.org.nz is on a streetwise wavelength, and so far the response to the site has been very positive. The site is a video map of places and things to do in North Shore City, set against a backdrop of music and urban-styled animation.

Young people can upload videos of themselves being active and enjoying their environment, and request their favourite local bands as music uploads to the site. It’s dynamic, engaging and has an urban flavour.

Ensuring the brand has broad appeal beyond this demographic, especially to girls, is something the project team are very conscious of. One button takes you to subscribe (to the e-Newsletter) and the other to a range of videos that tell you what’s going on in different North Shore City locations.

It’s simple to use, short and punchy, and gives the impression that it’s being marketed by a “cool” multinational brand rather than a traditional government-style approach, preaching the merits of exercise.

The site has the capability and sense that young people can own it, add to it, and promote it as their own.

‘In2it’ bebo page

As a primary virtual community space for young people, ‘In2it’ has a bebo page for discussion, information, or just asking questions. This has been useful as a place to put out ideas and get feedback from the target audience.

e-Newsletter

The e-Newsletter is a useful communications tool with approximately 1000 subscribers to date. It provides updates and information on events and activities, and is a great way of engaging parents as well as their children.

It also keeps community co-ordinators, schools, parents, and young people in the same loop about what is going on.

Again it is techno savvy with video uploads and hook ups, and hyperlinks to other parts of the ‘In2it’ stable of e-information.

Text-ology

Events are being marketed through text messages, using the e-News contact database. Use of automated online systems for texting events information to subscribers is currently being explored.

Events – taking it to the streets, the ‘In2it Hook-up Van’ and other happenings

Revitalise a venue

Youth Destinations organises many different styles of events. One of these is through scoping facilities and clubs in the area that are underused or looking for growth, and arranging an event or youth initiative to bring the venue or club to the attention of local people.

For example, there is a world class BMX track in Albany, which many locals had never heard of. ‘In2it’ marketed a BMX day and invited the local BMX club to help introduce people to the park and the sport. “We had 120 kids, the majority of whom had never been to the park before, giving BMXing a go,” says Dan.

Another example was “ drop-in days” to high ropes courses and council leisure centres. “Letting kids drop in and pay a gold coin donation to indoor event venues, and some outdoor venues over the winter period, has lifted the profile of these places and brought in a new group of kids that prefer more casual drop-in style opportunities.

Over two hours 200 turned up for high ropes, and attendance at the indoor skate night is up round the 100 mark each Friday night without doing any significant marketing other than sending the txt out.”

The ‘In2it Hook-up’ Van

Another, more informal style of event happens all the time with the project van, ‘In2it Hook-up’. The Hook-up van, equipped with a sound system and sports equipment, cruises parks and malls, plays music and loans gear, such as basketballs and skates, to kids hanging out.

This kind of approach is adapted to a street style, rather than a set time for sports practices. It gets people connected with sports and physical activity who may go on to develop that connection.

Music festivals

‘In2it’ also runs music festivals. The festivals are about developing a reputation (or building the brand), connecting with local people, and recognising that physical activity, dance for example, can take various forms and work alongside music, street culture, and fashion.

There are a range of ‘In2it’ events not listed here, including extreme trampolining, basketball, slip and slide, and others.

Funding and operations

Youth Destinations is funded through a combination of in-kind investment from North Shore City Council (NSCC) including office space and organisational support, while Sport NZ contributes to the project through an Active Communities investment over 3 years.

This Sport NZ investment provides a platform from which Youth Destinations are now planning to develop into a financially sustainable operation. Demonstrating the value of the project to the community and other prospective partner organisations has been their starting point.

Youth Destinations and ‘In2it’ are project-managed from within the NSCC Community Liaison Team with Community Liaison Manager, Lisa Tocker, as project sponsor. ‘In2it’ operates from separate premises with a significant degree of autonomy. This helps them keep responsive to their audience, while the standard requirements for reporting and transparency apply. The programme has two co-ordinators whose role is to develop relationships with schools and clubs.

Partnerships

Partnerships within NSCC are important to the success of Youth Destinations. One of the key outcomes for the project is to create strategic partnerships that offer sustainable opportunities for young people to get involved in physical activity.

The development of partnerships and strategic direction for the project is also supported by a steering group, which meets once every six months. Membership includes:

  • North Harbour Secondary Schools Principals Association (Chair)
  • 18 Ltd (a research company specialising in young people)
  • Harbour Sport
  • Ministry of Youth Development
  • North Shore City Council
  • New Zealand Police
  • Sport NZ
  • Community Co-ordinators (Trust based community development workers).

It is a diverse membership and stakeholders have added significant value to the project to date. Key partnerships have also been forged with local businesses such as Cheapskates, and suppliers such as the graphics team Gang - www.gang.co.nz.

"Having a strong partnership relationship with suppliers and event partners means that we know each other’s working style well, and can easily hook into the project vision and approach. We can pounce on ideas and opportunities put forward by young people, and make things happen quickly if we need to, because we are so in tune with our project partners", says Lisa Tocker.

Mapping existing partnerships and providing an assessment of the city’s existing Youth Destinations is the Youth Destinations Network Plan. This plan identifies gaps and opportunities and is being used to guide the development and enhancement of additional Youth Destinations across the city.

Key learnings

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation are an important part of the Youth Destinations programme. Research is designed and used to support continuous improvement. Data is collected from events using a one-page questionnaire and used to scope and align youth activities, events, and destinations with the target market.

Information gained is used to make improvements to the projects throughout its duration. A partnership with Auckland University of Technology AUT has provided an opportunity to ensure monitoring and evaluation are sound.

Avoid over-consulting

Consultation ensures the project is heading in the right direction. To date, Youth Destinations have consulted with various community organisations and youth councils throughout the development of this project.

However, it is equally important not to over-consult. If a programme is about building a rapport with young people, they become drivers of the project in the relevant areas. Consultation is structured when it needs to be.

For example, ‘In2it’ is about marketing physical activity through a streetwise, sociable approach. Social spaces by their nature are flexible and open to change, so this project recommends being inventive with their programmes.

They work with different groups and find out what really works well through practice. They have found that the crucial thing is to have mechanisms to get feedback and then to be ready to learn from mistakes.

Key marketing approaches

Getting on the same wavelength as young people is vital to the success of ‘In2it’. ‘In2it’ focuses on building a rapport with young people. Connecting with them in an accessible way, rather than using a prescriptive approach is the key. The strength of the fun, cool brand is then used to market all sorts of activities that help engage young people in physical activity.

Some of the things that mark this audience-focused approach have been the use of technology in marketing (the website, e-Newsletter, text invites), the short events programme development (2 hours max for an event), and providing for impromptu events through the ‘In2it Hook-up’ van. All these are about engaging with the audience and making physical activity easily accessible and fun.

To learn more about the project, contact Lisa Tocker, Community Liaison Manager, North Shore City Council, lisa.tocker@northshorecity.govt.nz

 

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