Using Behaviour Change for positive Comms

electrotherapy_westco blog

This article was written by Harvey Sandhu our Marketing Executive. 

Most people in Local Gov are in the jobs they do to help improve the lives of the people our organisations serve. The challenge we face as communicators is how we support people to adopt positive behaviours and make better choices which not only improve their lives but help reduce demand for services from cash strapped councils.

Most people know that exercise can reduce heart disease, diabetes and prevent cancer, so why do we still have individuals who don’t exercise as much as they should or that recycling helps the planet but still choose not to despite the amount invested in these campaigns?

We recently delivered a behavioural change workshop to Eastleigh Borough Council who were facing issues regarding food waste recycling and encouraging activity in inactive residents. The best way to encourage change for good is through using behavioural change theory. Below are a few key nudges you could use if you’re facing similar issues and planning a Comms campaign based on the EAST model**.


1. Make it Easy – Friction Costs

Individuals can be deterred from taking action by seemingly small barriers, always test your processes that are required for your residents to make the change and simplify them as much as possible.

2. Make it Attractive – Loss Aversion

As human beings, the thought of losing something we already have has a larger impact on us than gaining something of equal value. Whilst it may make sense then to always draw attention to the possible losses individuals will face, it isn’t necessarily the case. It’s important to consider each case individually and carry out some A/B testing on a small group before finalising the campaign.

3. Make it Social – Network Nudges

We’re all influenced by our friends, family and society in general for guidance on what how we should act and behave. Tap into the networks of the audience you’re trying to reach, they’ll be much more likely to change a behaviour if their peers are doing it too.

4. Make it Timely – “Foot-in-the-door technique”

This tool relies on getting your audience to comply with an initial small request which can increase the likelihood of complying with a larger request later on. Such as getting parents to park further away from schools before asking them to commit to walking to school.

These are just a few of the tools we discussed on the training day, but these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to behaviour change.

‘The behaviour change training was a really valuable day – fascinating and insightful. The most value was definitely being able to practically apply the theory to live campaigns that we are currently working on. It was incredibly useful having a real example of what’s worked and what hasn’t – the team are much more confident in applying behaviour change theory into their campaign planning now.’ Jade Mizen, Communications, Engagement and Marketing Manager for Eastleigh Borough Council.

Underlying any great behavioural change campaign, of course, is making sure you understand your audience, read our Research Directors latest blog post on why local level research trumps national insight here.

Use our form below to get in touch if your team could do with some behavioural change training or if you’re looking to understand your local-residents better.



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