Communicating Solutions about Food Waste

Bryna Jones , Director of Communications at Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited,
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.

Source: Sustainablecitiescollective.com

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