Public Sector News from 4imprint

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
PHE is responsible for delivering the government’s health marketing campaigns, which cover all sorts of issues such as child obesity and smoking. The body recently launched a 3 year marketing strategy which places technology front and centre, as it believes this can help ‘change behaviour at greater scale and pace.’ PHE is embracing apps and bots in particular, as Marketing Director Sheila Mitchell believes they have the potential to make an ‘amazing’ contribution to public health.

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.

Social marketing
PHE’s marketing strategy also pointed out that it has a strong record of using social media platforms to change people’s behaviour, particularly when it comes to diet, exercise and smoking. As a result, it will continue tapping into the potential offered by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, as it believes this approach has many benefits. These include:

• Alerting and informing the public what they can do to
live healthy lives.
• Motivating people to improve their lifestyles.
• Driving cultural acceptance of healthy behaviours.
• Supporting other government levers such as legislation.

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
While commercial marketers are often very focused on targeting and segmenting their audience, the nature of many public information campaigns means there are times when a fairly broad brush can still be applied. As a result, many traditional mass marketing approaches can be hugely effective, from broadcasting ads on TV and radio to distributing branded merchandise such as message bugs, keyrings, pens or pencils.

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.’

Sources / Further Reading
Public Health England reveals new tech-focused marketing strategy Campaign
Public Health England, Social Marketing Strategy 2017 to 2020 PHE
UK public are ‘glued to smartphones’ as device adoption reaches new heights Deloitte