Integrating Community Based Social Marketing Into Public Education and Outreach: Lessons Learned Through Iterative Review
Through the implementation of Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM), behavior-specific campaigns have emerged as an effective companion to traditional outreach methods for more effectively documenting behavior change. As stormwater programs across the state begin to utilize CBSM in their approach to public education, the need for iterative review and adaptation is all the more important. This presentation will outline the Orange County Stormwater Program’s (OC Program) initial development of a behavior (“action”) campaign to supplement their traditional marketing (“foundational”) campaign, identify unforeseen pitfalls of this two-pronged approach, and highlight the adaptations necessary to address problems identified through a strategic review and planning process.
The OC Program shifted to a two-pronged approach in 2013, after an initial strategic program review and subsequent development of a 5-year strategic plan. This move included both a rebranding of the foundational campaign (H2OC) and the development of an action campaign aimed at reducing pollution from irrigation runoff (Overwatering Is Out). The two elements of the Program were developed separately, leading to the establishment of a separate brand identity for Overwatering is Out. This disparity diminished the action campaign’s nexus to runoff pollution, as messages regarding overwatering were predominantly related to water conservation. Further, although Overwatering Is Out demonstrated initial success due to heightened public attention of drought conditions, the saturation of overwatering messaging from other agencies ultimately made it difficult for the Program to measure the effectiveness of the campaign in its own right. Finally, measurement of behavior change proved to be difficult due to the broad list of actions included in the initial campaign and an over reliance on surrogate measures rather than quantifiable behavioral outcomes.
The Program underwent a second strategic review in 2018 focused on holistic programmatic adaptations. The foundational campaign was again revamped to emphasize the role of H2OC as the umbrella brand for all elements of the Program. The development of a graphic standards guide provided a format for consistency between H2OC, Overwatering is Out, and future action campaigns. Additionally, Overwatering is Out was modified to more effectively utilize CBSM strategies and integrate behavior change metrics for campaign effectiveness assessment. A pre-awareness survey was also conducted prior to launch of the consolidated program to establish a baseline of H2OC awareness against which to measure trends through established triennial surveys. Emphasis was placed on utilizing a data-driven approach that could provide useful program metrics for compliance and to document program success.
In addition to providing “lessons learned”, the presentation will detail current efforts to improve the quantification of behavior change. Examples include 1) a neighborhood-scale study to assess the impact of Overwatering is Out messaging on dry weather flow, 2) a pesticide action campaign focused on known usage behavior, and 3) the use of data triangulation to better inform future action campaign development. The data-driven approaches for these campaigns will be highlighted, including methods for thoughtful integration of the two-pronged approach to increasing awareness and changing behavior of target audiences.