NEWS1 December 2023

Tailor climate change communications to gain support, study finds

Inclusion News Sustainability Trends UK

UK – Communications around climate change and action should be better tailored to UK audiences to make messaging more relevant, according to research from advertising and climate firm ACT Climate Labs and cultural insights agency Bricolage.

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The research follows on from a 2022 report by ACT on “persuadables” on climate action, which was deemed people who are potentially open to getting involved in sustainability initiatives but who are also more easily discouraged, accounting for 69% of the UK population.

The conclusions from the research are based on qualitative research carried out in September and October 2023 and included semiotic and ethnographic studies of persuadables’ culture and the issues they focus on, with research focused on Aberdeen, Pembrokeshire and in England in the north-east, Midlands and London.

The persuadables were then split into three groups: multi-ethnic audiences, white working class and rural and semi-rural inhabitants.

According to the research, campaigners speaking to multi-ethnic audiences should acknowledge and reflect the mix of traditional and progressive social contexts people inhabit and make sure communications appeal to the collective, as well as understanding who holds influence in the audience groups you’re trying to reach and what is the most effective way to reach them.

For white working classes, the researchers said campaigners should avoid dividing one community into separate groups, avoid language that refers to taking a stand in a specific community and normalise positive environmental actions through ‘stealth’ communications.

For rural and semi-rural inhabitants, the research found a mistrust of what gets decided in urban contexts, and advised reviewing messaging to make sure it is relevant to people living outside cities and to take care in communication around issues that touch on provision of services, such as in the debate around cars versus bicycles.

Florencia Lujani, report author and strategy director at ACT Climate Labs, said: “We want to supercharge the effectiveness of climate communications and implement new ways of getting ahead of misinformation to neutralise and eradicate the power of the misinformation.

“Our research shows that taking a people-first approach, which seeks to understand persuadables and frame advertising in ways which will reach them, is the best way to make a positive impact.

“By using multi-channel advertising techniques to reach persuadables where they are, we can proactively get ahead of misinformation to inoculate persuadables and strengthen support for climate action.”