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What can a communications agency learn from Behavioural Science?

Emma Mumford
What can a communications agency learn from Behavioural Science?

The PRIA National Conference 2017 brought together an eclectic group of Behavioural Scientists to provoke thought amongst the audience. Communications professionals were challenged to consider how insights completely out of the realm of a public relations agency can add great value to a public relations agency and its output. The key audience takeout on the day centred around the idea that blending the worlds of communications and public relations with learnings taken from a behavioural insights approach can lead to more robust communications strategies; hopefully resulting in stronger outcomes and results for teams.

The PR Agency and the Behavioural Scientist

In the world of communications, a PR company is always looking for two things:

1.Ways to ensure their campaigns are effective

2.Ways to measure and report campaign effectiveness

Conferences, trainings and discussion panels industry-wide regularly debate the effectiveness of public relations and how best to measure effectiveness. Professionals develop creative ways everyday to generate campaign cut through in an ever-increasingly cluttered market amongst consumers who are ever-increasingly time poor. These factors coupled with media and advertising fatigue creates a very challenging environment in which to move the dial on consumer behaviour and perceptions.

According to Alex Gyani, Sam Tatam and Adam Ferrier; answers may lie in the field of Behavioural Science. Throughout the conference, speakers presented the case for using behavioural insights learnings to provide a public relations agency and communications professionals with alternative approaches to shifting behaviour and perceptions. The key recommendation is to adapt pre-existing models for communications purposes in order to provide a structured approach to campaign development.

How your communications agency can implement these learnings

Proven models, such as EAST and MINDSPACE, can provide a robust approach to developing campaigns aimed at changing behaviour. When adapted for communications purposes, a professional can use these as a check list to ensure that campaigns will more effectively drive results. Similarly, developing strategies around motivation- or ease-based approaches to changing behaviour may have stronger campaign outcomes. Whilst an approach anchored in behavioural insight may not be appropriate for all campaigns; compelling cases were presented as to why professionals should look outside of our industry for learnings to drive campaign effectiveness.

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