If you haven’t read our blog on freepost basics and you are new to this then you should click here to read that first. This blog answers more of the questions even experienced organisers ask about the Royal Mail free election leaflet distribution service – the freepost.
Can we choose when our freepost is delivered?
Yes, to an extent. Assuming you book everything with Royal Mail, have your leaflets approved and the material is delivered to their timescales you can request your freepost to be delivered during a particular slot within the campaign.
Is there a ‘best time’ to do this?
In the past it didn’t matter so much. Now it does. The freepost is the only piece of publicity that may reach some voters in hard to reach addresses and you will want them to see it BEFORE the postal ballot is delivered. In the case of an addressed freepost that means making sure your postal voters are in the first batch to go and in the case of an unaddressed freepost it means getting it out early in the short campaign.
How do we deliver leaflets for distribution?
Both addressed and unaddressed freepost leaflets must arrive with Royal Mail in a specific way sorted for delivery.
But doesn’t Royal Mail sort post all the time?
Well, yes, but it’s all about money and cuts! There was a time when leaflets could be given to the Royal Mail in a roughly sorted way and they would do the rest. Not anymore. Now the Royal Mail has quite specific requirements. The current requirements came out of the last election when Royal Mail estimated of the total cost of delivering the election freepost came in well above what the Treasury wanted to pay. The result was a process in which the parties did part of the work - sorting the freepost leaflets for delivery.
So what's election sort and what is street sort?
Just two different ways to sort the addressed leaflets for delivery. It doesn't really matter which is used.
So do we, the CLPs, have to do this?
Well you could, but assuming you have your addressing done for you then you shouldn't need to do anything. The mailing house or whoever is doing the job should be able to deliver to the Royal Mail sorted. The Royal Mail has software available to help mailing houses.
What about sorting an unaddressed freepost?
Again, Royal Mail has requirements that make their life easier and look after their staff. Their detailed requirements on bundling and the weight of each box delivered MUST be strictly adhered to otherwise the whole thing gets rejected.
Is addressing worth the money?
Obviously, addressing a freepost is a significant job with an associated cost. In an ideal campaign one would use every tactic available, but the reality is most seats don’t change hands at a General Election. You need to make a judgement about what you want to achieve. If you have money to spare it might be better to improve the quality and impact of your unaddressed freepost than to go for personal addressing.
But we haven’t yet selected a candidate. What should we do?
You should still get on with planning and implementing your freepost. Make what arrangements you can with Royal Mail and get your print booked. Public Impact can advise you on the best way to work with a late selection.
What if our candidate is not nominated?
That would be a big problem. There is a provision in the rules to claw back the cost incurred by Royal Mail if a candidate is not properly nominated but timing and logistics mean arranging freeposts before nominations close. The risk is small and there are bigger embarrassments than losing a bit of money! It’s a small risk.
Can you help?
We can and we do. Public Impact provides assistance with all your contact with Royal Mail. We can’t book your freepost delivery and the Agent remains ultimately responsible, but otherwise as well as approval of finished artwork we arrange for sorting, bundling, boxing and transport to the schedule you require and keep you informed at every key stage of the process.
What should we do?
Keep an eye out for Royal Mail guidance and advice. You can download the current rules here. They have said the rules for May 2015 won’t change much. They keep an eye out for their service becoming active. Get in touch with Public Impact to find out how we can help.
Do we have a choice of designs?
Yes. We don’t forget that you have a choice and we offer a choice to the parties we work with – at least two options. They will both be in the house style used by CLPs offering formats that are easy for local parties to understand.
Can we have a bespoke design?
Yes. Clearly a bespoke design takes a little longer and so costs a little more, but if you have a clear idea of what you want you can have something unique to your candidate.
How do we prepare?
In a nutshell, follow these points and you won’t go far wrong:
Decide how you want to go – addressed or unaddressed and the size/shape of your leaflet
Keep an eye out for Royal Mail becoming active.
Get the photos done – remember you will need the rights to the image and the co-operation of those in the pictures (there’s more on that here). Choose images that tell stories and underline Labour’s policies and values.
Summarise your candidate’s story – what are they all about in about 100 words.
Write some draft local copy highlighting what Labour means locally and/or showing how your candidate is working to benefit people and the community.
Think of any strapline you might want (though ideally you will have done this already – there is more on this here).
Our next Blog on freeposts will expand on how to plan your freepost content.
How does LabourPrint by Public Impact help Candidates and CLPs?
We’ve been providing freepost templates for the last three General Elections. If your artwork is based on these and complies with the law in general it will be approved by Royal Mail.
While the legal responsibility remains with your agent, we check your copy and let you know if there are any like problems that will prevent Royal Mail approval or any other obvious difficulty.
Once you have booked your slot with Royal Mail and you have signed off your artwork with us we will handle the necessary approval from Royal Mail.
We arrange the delivery of your printed freepost to Royal Mail direct in the format that they require.
We deliver on time, when we say.
With LabourPrint by Public Impact every CLP gets the same level of service.
To get your copy of our General Election print brochure click here.