Public sector marketing campaigns tend to focus more on spreading a specific message rather than directly pushing products and services. That means 2 core priorities need to be addressed: firstly, the message itself and secondly, the means of getting it out there to the target audience.
Technology has proved to be a hugely effective means of engaging with the public. According to figures from Deloitte, 41 million Britons now own or have access to a smartphone – with many of these using it as their primary means of getting online. It therefore makes good sense to tap into this trend to get important messages out there to the wider public.
Public Health England (PHE) is a particularly good example of a state-run body that is stepping up its use of tech not only to reach consumers, but also to change people’s approach to life and make its brands important to them.
Technology can change behaviour
The Breastfeeding Friend ChatBot has already proved a great success, as it can be accessed via Facebook Messenger and provides personal support for mothers at any time of the day or night to help make breastfeeding a better experience. Known as the BFF, the ChatBot can help to dispel myths around breastfeeding and ease any worries they might have, as well as respond directly to questions posed by users. The success of this approach has prompted PHE to explore launching more ChatBots in the future to support upcoming campaigns.
Similarly, the ‘Be food smart’ and ‘Sugar smart’ apps, part of PHE’s Change4Life initiative, have proved very successful, which could pave the way for further apps to be launched in the future. The key to the success of these tools is that they are not merely pushing a particular message. They are also proving genuinely useful to people and having a positive impact on tackling the issues PHE wishes to address.
• Alerting and informing the public what they can do to
The proportion of 16 to 75-year-olds that own or have access to a smartphone has grown by 4% in the last year to a staggering 85% with growth particularly strong among older people. It therefore makes perfect sense for public sector marketers to tap into this trend, engaging with consumers via popular sites such as social networks and providing them with digital tools and resources that can actually improve their lives.
But don’t rule out mass marketing
As Ms Mitchell of PHE notes: ‘We’re constantly looking at what we spend our money on. It is a balance between where there’s a strong, proven evidence base that marketing can do something and where are there new issues where we explore and we test and possibly do something quite different.’
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