Recommendation #22 was simple: “The city should pro-actively promote the nomination process and encourage nominations”.
We have this wonderful thing called “Democracy”, where anyone is allowed to put their name on a ballot and ask the public to support their vision and their ideas. But it only works if people actually know when and how to participate!
In the exhibit, I pointed out that the city does know to produce good outreach materials, when they are seeking nominations for OTHER things …like the ‘Green Toronto Awards’:
Note the effective use of colour, images, pretty fonts, and attractive layout/design. There’s even an exclamation mark. (!)
As part of the exhibit, I created a fictitious “Call for Nominations” for City Council:
But this ad shouldn’t be fictitious. We know the City has the capacity to design effective marketing materials. So I was disappointed to see this ad in today’s newspaper:
The ad is promoting a really important democratic process. On October 10th, City Council will choose one citizen to serve as a one-year interim City Councillor for Ward #3 in Etobicoke. Anyone is allowed to apply for the job.
If the city wanted to ensure that all citizens were aware of this opportunity, they would need an ad with colour, images, good design, and a catchy headline like:
“Seeking: Applications for City Council”
“Wanted: One citizen to act as City Councillor for one year”
“Position available: Toronto City Council”
“Who wants to be a City Councillor?”
Instead, the main title is:
No colour. No images. No creative text. No exclamation marks. Nothing to catch the eye. Most people will simple pass over it, without reading a single word.
So, as usual, we’ll end up with a bunch of political insiders and a handful of oddballs as nominess. The average person won’t know about the opportunity, nor how to apply. Sure, you can argue that people should take it upon themselves to be informed, and to call 311 for information. But why wouldn’t we want to make an effort, to make sure that as many people as possible knew about the opportunity?
Out of curiosity, I did a very quick google image search for “Call for Nominations”. What I found is that organisations – of every size – are using good design to attract good candidates. And they are using lots of exclamation marks. Here’s hoping we can fix this problem in time for the 2014 municipal election. (!)