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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bluffers guide to communications and behaviour change

Oh no, the UK Government has discovered the ‘science’ of behavioural change.

It is an amusing and costly phenomenon that the government discovers the techniques of business at a time when business has kicked them out and moved on.

For the past decade or so we have had a government machine that has been driven by multiple ‘targets’ long after the technique was rejected by the business world.

Now the Government has discovered the ‘science’ of behavioural change and thinks this is the best way of getting the recalcitrant population to do as it bids. To help the hapless marketing agencies, in particular advertising, it has launched its 101 primer on the subject. This is what it says about the publication.
Within government, we are continually seeking new and better ways to communicate with citizens to encourage positive behaviour change. With this document, we hope to provide those working in government communications with an update on some of the latest thinking about what drives human behaviour and to launch the debate as to what this means for our approach to communications, from strategy development through to evaluation. We see this as the first stage in an ongoing dialogue.

We look forward to working with you to continue developing and delivering communications that are informed by both a deep understanding of the behaviour we seek to influence and the rapidly changing communications landscape.

Mark Lund, Chief Executive, COI
If you're not from the UK you might wonder what the COI does. Here is its “About US”.
COI works with government departments and the public sector to produce information campaigns on issues that affect the lives of every citizen - from health and education to benefits, rights and welfare.
The bottom line is that during 2008/2009 it spent £540 million of taxpayer’s dosh.

Shall I tell you what will happen next? Every agency will get hold of a copy of the document and ensure that their pitches for government business are festooned with behaviour jargon. They will abandon their native cunning and creativity and start adopting the “5 step approach”. Out the window goes inventiveness in comes systemisation. Call me a cynic of what!

A good place for UK Government to start would be to ensure that its communications are vaguely understandable by the human race. I just came upon this prize example of Government speak.
The cultural sector that we refer to is an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, inter-genre collaboration, which encompasses policymaking, intercultural dialogue/cultural relations, creative cities/cultural planning, creative industries and research & development.
OK, to be honest it is from a quasi-Government organisation, but you get the message. Or maybe you don’t. Dick Stroud

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