Changing behaviour requires building trust over time. Below we share 4 key steps that communications teams should consider when creating a climate change communications plan for residents.
1: Plan & produce content on a weekly basis
To facilitate change, you’ll need a robust content strategy that connects with your residents and that can be regularly updated and sustained over a long period of time. It’s important that you set your expectations realistically for you and your residents. Will your message be strong enough to carry over a month, or perhaps this particular message is a week long campaign? Consider reaching out to residents in the strongest way possible rather than setting ‘week long’ and ‘month long’ campaigns for the sake of fulfilling a time period.
Good content will pass through many hands before it goes live. But great content plans involve the right people at the right time. It’s vital that you organise your content team so that this process is seamless and easy to follow.
2: Create content that is practical for all
How do you approach raising awareness of the whole climate change agenda, without overwhelming residents?
The answer lies in simple, clear, easy to understand content. People respond well to short sharp pieces of digestible information such as short videos, quizzes, and blogs. Where possible, you can use infographics or illustrative examples to support the message.
Producing content each week can be resource intensive, but it’s certainly worthwhile. The more touchpoints you can have with your audience the more rapport you will create. Remember that building trust is key to changing behaviour. This means that one single campaign is likely to be heard, but not remembered. For a sustainable change, your audience will need to be steered into a particular way of thinking over time.
3: Test a range of climate change topics
At a broad level, your climate change objectives will decide which topics you need to communicate to residents. But be sure to test a variety of climate change topics to make sure your audience gets an ever-evolving experience. A wide range of topics doesn’t just mean higher engagement, it also provides more access points for residents to make a difference. For example, while some may not be able to use eco-transport, they may revel in zero-waste living.
Testing a variety of climate change topics will help you determine what gets the best response.
What’s in it for me? Where do I fit in? How does this work in my home? These are all important questions that residents will ask, so each piece of content will need to answer them. You could provide motivations to get them involved or target known issues in their area. Our advice – ask them. You will never know what your audience needs from you without asking the question. See where the barriers lie in adopting climate change actions, create a solution and supply it within your content plan theme.
4: Track resident engagement with your content over time
By monitoring engagement over time, you’ll be able to see which content resonates with your audience. It will also allow you to build a deeper understanding of who is most engaged. Highlighting areas that perhaps need more attention or a shift in topic focus.
This will help convert your residents from passive content viewers to active and loyal participants in your weekly climate change initiatives. Instead of receiving and hearing messages, they will turn to seeking them out and sharing with others.
Effective metrics for tracking engagement are email open and click-through rates, time on your site and interactions with content. You can use tools such as Google Analytics and Lucky Orange to help you with this. They are relatively easy to use, and top-level information is easy to access, making them a great addition to your marketing team without taking up space in the office!
Next time we look at what carbon tools Local Authorities can use to enhance and measure climate communications and encourage resident action.