This project was self-initiated; our task being to mobilise the Southland community in a two-phase campaign.
Stage one: Community education and mobilisation. We needed to show Minister Hipkins how Southland felt about its asset being compromised by way of a vocal and visual “welcome” for him at every site of his Southland visit, especially the public meeting.
Stage two: A plea for submissions. This would ensure Southlanders have a voice. Businesses and individuals were compelled to submit to the Government.
This campaign required immediate action from the day the reform was announced. We needed the community to get on board and offer their physical space, resources and time to ensure we could mobilise Southland.
The result was overwhelming and humbling. Market South partnered with community groups, businesses and various organisations to create an orange hue across Invercargill and Southland. At times Market South had its hand smacked but it was a calculated risk we were willing to take – the potential loss to our community was too great. We had guerrilla signage erected throughout Southland, primarily on the Minister’s travel route. A haka at the airport with dignitaries and community leaders was organised and we obtained details of the Minister’s itinerary to ensure at every site he had meetings or dined at, there were people wearing STAND UP FOR SIT T-shirts, posters and hoardings were visible. The campaign was gifted a vehicle, window frontages and a pop-up shop; media partners also came on board to support the cause.
Our marketing was primarily educational ensuring the outcomes or the proposed reform were made clear to Southlanders. Our digital campaign included satirical content and memes, media home page takeovers and radio content. We had a focus on PR and used numerous influencers, locally and nationally, to share opinion pieces; Carla engaged in a speaking circuit for the duration of the campaign. We felt constant visibility and noise was important, with Carla conducting regular interviews. There was even a Stand Up For SIT song written. A pop-up shop allowed the community to access information and assistance with their submission, if required. In an act of solidarity for SIT at the Minister’s public meeting, we instructed the room to remain standing, creating an imposing and hostile reaction.
When the Reform of Vocational Education draft was released with its debilitating ramifications for SIT, Market South was quick to jump to our defence and plead SIT’s case. I watched from afar with amazement at the speed Market South seemed to be able to bring things together and rally the community for their Stand Up For SIT campaign.
Within days, their team had pulled together a region-wide marketing and PR campaign with orange signs and posters covering many surfaces throughout Invercargill. Everywhere I looked, Stand Up For SIT was there. The turnout for the Minister’s arrival at Invercargill Airport and the public meeting at SIT were highlights of this campaign, the tension between the Minister and the Southland community palpable in those rooms.
They compelled the Southland community to have a voice, send in submissions during the consultation period and ensured they had headlines across all media platforms for the duration of their campaign. I am beyond grateful for the response they’ve incited in our community and the profile they’ve given to SIT’s concerns.
Penny Simmonds, Southern Institute of Technology