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4.4.3 Communication Campaign Interventions

Communication campaign interventions fit into a number of categories. Some appeal to values and attempt to change broad worldviews and beliefs; others provide education to change attitudes and provide information; some utilize an incentive structure by providing rewards or penalties; and finally some rely on community management including the establishment of shared rules and expectations. Intervention studies have investigated a range of antecedents and consequences of pro-environmental behavior including commitment, goal setting combined with feedback, information, modeling, rewards, and tailored messages (see Unsworth et al., 2013, for relevant sample studies). For example, Stern (2000)

provides a set of principles for interventions seeking to change environmentally destructive behavior:

• Identify target behaviors that are environmentally significant in terms of impact.

• Identify the responsible actions and actors.

• Set realistic expectations about outcomes.

• Attempt to understand the situation from the actor's perspective. Gather feedback from the targets about causal variables.

• Identify perceived and actual barriers to change and try to remove them.

• Use multiple intervention types to address factors limiting behavioral change.

For example, provide information, incentives, and/or reminders.

• When limiting factors are psychological, get the individual's attention and make limited cognitive demands (e.g., use simple messages, provide heuristics).

• Stay within the bounds of an individual's tolerance for intervention.

• Apply principles of community management (credibility, commitment, face-toface communication).

• Use participatory decision making if possible.

• Continually monitor responses and adjust accordingly.

4.4.3.1 Best Practices from Health and Communication Campaign Literatures

In addition to Stern's (2000) recommendations, sustainability communicators are reminded to conduct research using focus groups and/or surveys and then design messages for specific audiences. The health belief model reminds us to include information about an issue's seriousness and the susceptibility of the individual and what he or she cares about, as appropriate, in our messages. It also posits that a cue, or trigger, is necessary to prompt engagement in new behaviors. The stages of change model describes how people vary in terms of their readiness to engage in a recommended behavior. Different strategies need to be utilized at each stage. Goal setting, social support from peers, and soliciting commitments can be powerful tools for reinforcing behavioral change.

 
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