When you think about communications, you may think of it mostly in the context of a commercial business, however, you may have missed that communications campaigns should also be used by charities, NGOs, non-profit organisations, statutory bodies and the public sector. Instead of creating a favourable image of a product/service, you may focus on a public education campaign, whether it be to buy more local products, get drivers to stop speeding, tackling the environmental issue of littering, getting people to conserve water or electricity, a mental health campaign, correct mask wearing or vaccination, the tactics used must be converted into tangible changes in behaviour to be hailed a success. Old habits die hard and if you have ever tried to change a habit, you know it’s not that easy. Simply telling someone that changing their behaviour or taking action is a good thing, will not suffice, you have to motivate them to make that change or take that action.
Regardless of the type of public education program you embark on, for there to be sustained behaviour change, it’s imperative that you thoroughly study your audience to find out what motivates them so you have a better idea of what would inspire them to act; your campaign must be grounded in research, your messages must be well crafted, and timing is everything. You may have missed why you need to do these three things:
1. Identify and understand your audience – This is the foundation. What influences you may not influence your neighbour; the same applies to your intended audience. You can’t effectively target them if you don’t understand their attitudes or perspective. Do you know why they engage in that particular behaviour you are trying to change? E.g., let’s say you are trying to increase the consumption of local fruits and veggies among low-income mothers, the first thing you should do is find out why they are not consuming fruits and veggies in the first place; then use that information to segment them into groups based on the details gathered from the research; following that, you tailor messaging targeting the different groups you created.
2. Get your messaging right – Don’t rush into creating ads or flyers before finalizing your core messages. Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them. Does the information you are communicating matter so much that it will inspire them to make changes? E.g., what can you say/include in your communications that will motivate someone to stop disposing of garbage in the rivers and streams? Remember you are not convincing them to change their behaviour but rather motivating them to do so.
3. Motivate, remind and sustain to really affect behaviour change. Change is a process – one that doesn’t happen overnight.
Motivate with incentives or personal stories e.g. a campaign highlighting the positive changes amongst families who begun eating more fruits and veggies. Remind by creating a compelling, memorable message and use signs or decals in places where the decision to take action occurs. Sustain by finding ways to reinforce the new behaviour as well as increasing visibility of participation and identifying influencers who can help share the message.
Candice Sealey is a freelance content writer, advertising copywriter, voiceover talent, media personality and the Founder & Principal Consultant at Ignite! a Full-service Marketing & PR Consultancy that helps businesses/brands to stand out, engage and connect with the right people through Strategy, Marketing, Media services and Design solutions.
Follow us on FB & IG @igniteresults