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4.4 Pro-Environmental Behaviors and Communication

In this section, several additional models or theories are provided which deal with social marketing or have guided health and energy use communication campaigns. That is followed by information on message design and content. The section concludes with a discussion of the role of interpersonal communication.

4.4.1 Social Marketing

Kotler and Zaltman (1971, p. 5) coined the term social marketing and defined it as “the design, implementation, and control of programs calculated to influence the acceptability of social ideas and involving considerations of product planning, pricing, communication, distribution, and marketing research.” Marketing concepts are integrated with other approaches to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. This approach is rooted in social science and social policy as well as commercial and public sector marketing. Initially, the focus is on learning what a specific target audience thinks, wants, needs, and/or desires rather than moving directly to persuasive efforts. This focus is akin to the audience analysis public speakers conduct before constructing their messages. Data are gathered using focus groups and surveys. Then, communication materials (both informative and persuasive) are created which build upon what is known about the audience.

Since the 1980s, social marketing has been used to promote disaster preparedness and response, ecosystem and species conservation, environmental issues, global threats associated with antibiotic resistance, marine conservation and ocean sustainability, sustainable consumption, and other sustainability-related social needs (Lefebvre 2013). One branch of social marketing, community-based social marketing (CBSM), emerged to systematically foster more sustainable behavior. Developed by Canadian environmental psychologist Doug McKenzieMohr, CBSM focuses on helping communities reduce their impact on the environment. After focus groups and surveys uncover barriers, behavioral change is stimulated through the use of commitments, prompts, social norms, social diffusion, feedback, and incentives. This approach has been used to promote energy conservation (e.g., Schultz et al. 2007), enhance environmental regulation (e.g., Kennedy 2010), and stimulate recycling (e.g., Haldeman and Turner 2009). Individuals charged with communicating about sustainability initiatives to their internal and external stakeholders should consider this approach because it provides a way to systematically identify what each stakeholder group believes, knows, and desires in order to more effectively target messages aimed at changing their sustainabilityrelated behaviors.

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