With the EU referendum looming, as a team we knew we’d have to make changes to our content, regardless of the result.
Some of our biggest advice areas are consumer issues, employment and immigration – all things that could be affected by leaving the EU.
It became clear we needed to prepare. Many people would have questions and concerns – particularly if the vote was to leave.
We pulled together a team, but the discussion always led to the same point: like the rest of the country, we just didn’t know what was going to happen if the UK decided to leave.
In general, when creating advice content we avoid uncertainties. Instead we focus on meeting user needs with facts and tactical advice – difficult in an unprecedented situation.
What we did
We decided to take it right back to the user need:
‘As someone living in the UK, I need to know how Brexit affects me and what I need to do, so that I can prepare for when the UK leaves the EU.’
The temptation to speculate was strong. We pair wrote the content in a Google document, and it took a lot of tweaking to get right.
Early iterations included possible outcomes for each area of legislation, and focused on EU nationals living in the UK as an audience. Eventually we decided that the piece should work for the most people possible, and avoid any speculation at all.
We focused on one simple message:
‘Nothing is going to change right now, so you don’t need to do anything yet.’
We chose this advice because it was factually accurate and, hopefully, reassuring. There was already so much speculation in the media – because Citizens Advice is a trusted charity we needed to give people clear advice.
We added a banner with this message at the top of every page on our site, linking to the page.
On the day of the referendum announcement, our Brexit advice page had 37,000 views. To put this into context, our highest performing piece of content the Friday before was seen by about 2,000 people.
By focusing on one very clear message, we were able to create content that could easily be repurposed for other platforms – for example, on social media and as posters in local Citizens Advice offices.
As a result, our advice reached over 200,000 people on Facebook, and 230,000 Twitter users.
Our advice was highest ranking on Google for the keywords ‘Brexit advice’, and the only direct, non-speculative information that we could find that weekend.
We’ll continue to update our content with new advice, to reflect any changes as a result of Brexit.