Can PR be an effective tool in changing behaviour?

Traditionally the value of PR has been in advertising value’s but there has been a significant shift to using PR to change certain perceptions and thereby behaviour.

Can PR really be effective when trying to change the behaviour of a consumer? We believe it can.

It is a rare occasion when you can work on a brand that has a strong message – not just one that wants to increase sales. The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) is a perfect example. They have long been considered the champion of the motorist but in 2013 they are taking this one step further.

With the devastating 2012-2013 festive season road accident deaths the AA have decided, through PR, to challenge every road user to take responsibility for their behaviour on our roads. We have been called upon to make this challenge real and relatable for the road user. We have been given license to use a more confrontational style, tone and images of road carnage.

This is truly exciting – we have a real chance to make a difference through our work. The sentiment “It’s PR, not ER” is something that is often thrown around a PR office but in this case our actions can result in less literal ER.

There is a sense of pride when you think your media release or press conference could actually result in saving someone’s life. Through the messages we convey on behalf of the AA we can touch lives and hopefully change dangerous behaviours such as convincing someone to not text while driving.

Campaigns like this do not come around very often in one’s career so when they do you use all of your skills to assist the brand with changing behaviours. It’s an exciting time and hopefully the results will be a much lower death rate at the end of 2013.

Written by Caryl Kolk

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