RSPCA plans change in its approach to campaigning

Animal welfare charity will undertake more research in advance of campaigns after finding that its current messages are not getting through

Justine Pannett, senior campaigns manager at the RSPCA
Justine Pannett, senior campaigns manager at the RSPCA

The RSPCA will carry out more pre-campaign research with members of the public because its behaviour-change messages are increasingly "falling on deaf ears".

Justine Pannett, senior campaigns manager at the RSPCA, said the charity had decided to carry out more research into why people behave in certain ways before launching a campaign.

She told Third Sector the charity felt its campaigns that aimed to influence people’s behaviour on issues such as looking after their pets or rehoming dogs were increasingly "falling on deaf ears".

"We have success in the short term but no long-term behavioural change," she said.

The RSPCA, Pannett said, had looked at models of campaigning used by organisations such as the Department of Health.

"It’s about taking a bottom-up approach – understanding our audience and the barriers that prevent people from changing their behaviour," she said. "The research will help us identify the right point at which to intervene or the right way to help people."

Pannett said it was very easy for charities to make assumptions about how people should behave and to want to educate them.

"But without understanding why people behave in the way they do, it’s very difficult to intervene in an appropriate way," she said. "I think we’ll see more charities taking this approach."

But she warned this could increase the cost of campaigning and said that the RSPCA had had to invest more money in "audience insight" over the past 12 months.

"It’s not cheap to be undertaking this insight work, but the benefits will pay off in the long term," she said.

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