This is Part Two of a two part series on “Communicating Solutions” by Director of Communications, Bryna Jones. Read Part One here.
How do we get people to reduce their food waste? Desiging and implementing a Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) communications plan is one way.
As planners and communicators, we tend to underestimate the difficulty involved in changing behaviour. CBSM assumes that there are a variety of barriers that exist to behaviour change. Because behaviour change is complex, carefully selecting the behaviour to be promoted is vital to starting a campaign well. After the behaviour has been identified then the barriers and benefits associated with the selected behaviour must be isolated. For example, to dissect the issue of food waste, we would start by using a tool such as a problem tree to assess its specific problems, causes and effects. We can use the outcomes of this exercise to choose one behaviour change that will measurably reduce the negative behavioural trend within our chosen population.
Once these steps have been completed, we can move on to designing a strategy that utilizes behaviour-change tools to address barriers and benefits. Piloting the strategy is vital to success. The cornerstone of sustainability is delivering programs that are effective in
changing people’s behaviour. If the pilot doesn’t provide measurable outcomes, then it’s time to revise, or select a more appropriate behaviour change. Once a program has been broadly implemented, evaluation must occur to understand its long term effect.
Strategic communications is involved at every step of this process.We must carefully select the language we use, the communications tactics we implement and the ways we measure the success of the campaign. Each campaign will be unique given the issue, audience, behaviour to change, and its barriers and benefits, but there are two key points
to be aware of:
- Providing information is not enough
- Scaring people (or making them feel guilty) is unlikely to engage them
People are motivated:
- To know and understand what is going on – they hate being disorientated or confused
- To learn, discover and explore – they prefer acquiring information at their own pace and answering their own questions
- To participate and play a role in what is going on around them – they hate feeling incompetent or helpless
In order to communicate sustainable development successfully, we must link our communications to these needs and motivators, using audience research to decide which communications tools and tactics will be most effective. Making communications personal and practical, by overcoming barriers to change and promoting its benefits, is at the heart of CBSM. This is how we can encourage people to live more sustainable lives.
Bryna Jones is the Director of Communications at Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited, and a member of the International Association of Business Communicators. Bryna’s project experience includes communications and marketing planning, advocacy campaign development, social media strategy, government relations, and project management. She also has considerable experience in copy writing and public speaking.