Archive for May, 2011

The Government’s new Social Marketing strategy for Public Health – can it deliver?

May 31, 2011

Just before Royal Wedding bank holiday the Government published Changing Behaviour, Improving Outcomes: A new social marketing strategy for public health. It has clearly taken a little while for the national media to pick up on its contents, however some of the more significant issues it covered regarding the impact to government public health advertising campaigns did receive news coverage by this bank holiday weekend!

The points that received the most attention are set out on page 28 of the report:

Following the coalition government’s freeze on non-essential marketing expenditure, all social marketing programmes were reduced and expenditure on advertising all but ceased.

We have now had the opportunity to learn from the freeze and to assess where the loss of mass communications had a negative impact. For example:

  • the number of people joining Change4Life fell by 80%. Calls to the Change4Life information line fell by 90% and web visits by two thirds;
  • calls to the FRANK help line fell by 22% and web visits by 17%;
  • visits to the Smokefree website fell by 50% The volume of people making a quit attempts also fell, in line with the reduction in purchased media spend.

Evidence submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health concluded that the cessation of marketing activity has resulted in declining quit attempts and subsequent loss of life from smoking-related illness.

These studies followed the criticism of the DoH decision last year to axe the £1.5m awareness campaign for flu vaccinations and the research showing the impact the withdrawal had on public take-up. This year the Government seems to be planning much earlier for any eventuality regarding flu vaccination.

In response to these studies an extra £15m has now been set aside for promoting the government’s anti-smoking website and £14m will be made available for a campaign promoting healthy living. This has been generally welcomed by the social marketing community. However, the total spending is still less than half the £93m spent by the previous government in 2009/2010.

However it is important to go beyond the news coverage to look at whether the new social marketing strategy is likely to provide as much bang for less bucks in terms of promoting public health. In summary its critique is as follows:

  • Over-prioritisation of primary prevention (smoking, drinking at harmful levels etc.) to the near exclusion of secondary prevention (such as early detection).
  • Very long timescales for payback (whereas secondary prevention might pay back sooner).
  • Duplication of resource, for example via the reinvention of insights, duplication of creative assets.
  • Too much top down direction and too little local creation, resulting in a lack of local knowledge and local marketers either “cherry-picking” from national initiatives or generating their own ides.
  • With the exception of Change4Life, a focus on single-issue campaigns, missing the opportunity to “ladder” people up from successfully tackling one behaviour, to changing others.
  • A lack of coordination across Government.
  • Failure to employ all marketing levers, particularly intermediary marketing.

It says that whilst central social marketing budgets will run at 40% of 2009 spend in future, much more will be done locally after 2013. However in the meantime it says (page 22):

“While we anticipate that local areas will eventually take a leadership role in the development, implementation and funding of social marketing, it is likely that local spending on social marketing will dip during the transition period. It will be crucial to work with local areas, whether NHS or local authorities, to enable them to join up what activity they can fund with national programmes in the least resource-intensive ways possible.”

The document then sets out a new strategy:

  • There will be far fewer social marketing programmes, prioritising those that are proven to work.
  • With the exception of smoking, there will be no central single-issue campaigns. Instead social marketing will take a life course approach, through which a trusted brand will deliver support on all topics that are relevant to a person at that stage.
  • More will be done at a local level; the centre will do only those things which it alone is best placed to do.
  • Emerging insights from the behavioural sciences will be deployed to enhance existing programmes and design radically different marketing initiatives.
  • Partners, including commercial sector partners, will be asked to do more.
  • While some advertising is resuming, we will continue the shift away from traditional mass media channels, towards lower-cost channels and those (such as Government web sites or posters in hospitals and General Practice) that we own.
  • We will increase our use of social media, to enable people to build and join networks of others who face similar problems and to access, create and share information and ideas through those networks.
  • Where our campaigns enter into frequent and regular conversations with people, we will test ways of migrating these communications into lower-cost digital channels.
  • We will work with the Cabinet Office to pilot a payment by results approach in appropriate areas.

There will be 4 main government national campaigns instead of the plethora of single issue campaigns

Much of the critique and new strategy makes a lot of sense. However the challenge is to deliver it as a full replacement at a time when there is such a drop in advertising demonstrably having an immediate impact on take-up of services.

In the absence of resources for national advertising PCT’s working with the new Health and Well-Being Boards and GP Consortia may need to look at whether more effective use of staff conversations and existing peer to peer engagement can be developed to take up some of the load until ring-fenced local government operated public health budgets exist.

The other interesting point in the report is the shift from primary to secondary prevention around the issue of early detection. The issue here is who will deliver this? Will it be the new GP Consortia?

As the statistics at the start of this posting indicate, it does show that the provision of information works for some people and the reduction in the supply of this information does have an impact.However, as we have blogged before, the advertising does not reach everyone – often because it is communicated in such a way that does not reach out to the targeted individual’s own values.

The Government see the advertising approach as expensive and instead seem to see diffusion of innovation theory as a relatively cheap behavioural change approach – mainly driven by private sector IT providers to show some progress – as is shown by the text on pages 29-33  of the strategy, which I set out in full below:

Many of the behaviours we seek to change require continued support and reinforcement. In the past, much of this reinforcement was provided through information and other resources, mailed frequently to the target audience. Many of our most successful case studies involve this form of engagement. However, it is expensive and it is often (although not always) uni-directional, with limited opportunities for people to enter into a dialogue, either with us or with other people who are also trying to change.

8.3.9 In recent years, penetration and use of mobile phones, digital media and social networking sites has increased rapidly among our core target audiences. The Race Online 2012 initiative aims to accelerate this trend and further reduce digital inequality.

8.3.10 New technologies enable us to reach our target audiences in new ways, to amplify our current messages and to target small and discrete groups of people

8.3.11 Unlike traditional media, digital is not a monologue: it enables instant and ongoing dialogues. This enables the user to engage in communications on three distinct levels of dialogue, each of which is relevant for Public Health England:
  • Private: securely encrypted communications are passed between parties, allowing transmission of information that is sensitive.
  • Personal: customised communications are sent to individuals.
  • Public (social media): communications are shared in an unrestricted manner, with the express intention that others may read and share the content.

8.3.12 Social media channels also enable us to rapidly disseminate messages to our networks of supporters (for example via our Twitter feeds).

8.3.13 At its best, technology can empower citizens to make better decisions about their wellbeing for themselves (and their dependents), based on their own individual circumstances.

8.3.14 Technology also facilitates individual tailoring of information and presentation of choice based on personal circumstances.

8.3.15 Access to new technologies has grown so fast (as has the functionality provided by those technologies) that it is impossible to predict how people will be using them through the life of this strategy. However, at minimum, we would expect to see:

  • increased use of social networking sites to connect with others, converse and share information (for example, in only a few months, the Change4Life Facebook page has grown to over 45,000 “fans”, who, with minimal interference or moderation from the centre, discuss and swap ideas for healthier lifestyles);
  • people expecting to be able to find information and tools where they choose to be, rather than at the brand owner’s site (which will require us to create “white-labelled” tools that can be carried on or linked to from partner websites (as we began to do with the Change4Life Great Swapathon on line tool);
  • greater use of on line and other technology platforms to access services (in only two years we have seen the proportion of people ordering a smoking cessation Quit Kit “flip” from primarily telephone ordering to primarily online ordering);
  • the delivery of products and services through new technologies (a recent example of this is the Drinks App available on NHS Choices. Since its launch in December 2010, 197,000 people have downloaded the drinks tracker app to their iPhones. This is impressive since, in the burgeoning market, only a small percentage of apps become popular. As we go forwards, we will use end-users in the design of our apps (user-centred design) and will build “social functionality” (such as the ability for users to rate and review our apps), since the best rated apps generally become the most popular;
  • people joining together to use their power to access discounts (for example via Groupon), which will have implications for how we deliver partner-funded offers (it was a failing of the recent Change4Life Great Swapathon that people were not able to access partner offers online).

8.3.16 Developing our use of social media will be especially important for the youth programme and for families (recent ethnographic research with low-income families found that children were significant drivers of new technology within households and researchers witnessed children as young as three using their own laptop computers).

8.3.17 We should remember, however, that this increase has been driven not by websites offering information, but by those offering music, video, shopping, gaming, gambling and gossip, all of which offer a more interesting and stimulating user experience than most current Government campaigns.

8.3.18 People can interact with us, access our services, share our messaging and our products throughout their networks, but the choice of whether to do so is theirs. If we want them to interact with us, we need to provide content that is rewarding and has value in their eyes. A good example of this was Change4Life’s Let’s Dance activity, which asked families to upload video of their children dancing with the prize of chance to train with Diversity. This attracted over 150,000 YouTube channel views and over 468,000 uploads viewed.

8.3.19 Many in our target audiences are kinaesthetic learners, that is they prefer to learn by doing, rather than by reading or listening. The interactivity that digital platforms afford provides opportunities to use digital platforms to influence behaviours, provided we make those platforms “sticky” enough.

8.3.20 Going forwards, we propose that Government form a network of talented designers, content creators and app developers to work with our target audiences to co-develop new tools based on the needs of the user.

8.3.21 These could include:
  • Individual tools (to support individual responsibility), for example health checkers and monitors and data visualisation tools. For example, Change4Life’s Walkometer app (used over 10,000 times) allowed users to input their daily exercise and see their output over time in terms of calories burned, steps taken or a distance walked. These tools can quantify change and reward people for that change.
  • Group tools (recognising people’s need for support) , enabling people to benchmark themselves against others, set goals and make performance against those goals visible to others.
  • Aggregating tools, which sort through data to enable people to, for example, find their local park.
  • Tools which provide access to expertise or appointment reminders.
  • Games, which build health content into gameplay.
8.3.22 We should also explore the huge potential of social media as a mechanism for listening (for example via buzz monitoring) rather than for sending messages out to our audiences. Our Facebook pages are already providing a mechanism for garnering instant feedback on our brands and our activities.
8.3.23 Digital media have a propensity to propel issues into the mainstream that exceed their first-hand reach (as when the mainstream news picks up stories based on what high-profile individuals have tweeted.).
8.3.24 However, not all our audiences are yet using new technologies in this way. For other audiences, we will need to maintain more traditional channels for the time being. We will therefore test and evaluate a strategy of migration, gradually reducing paper-based materials, sent via the mail, with digital fulfilment.
8.3.25 Using digital technologies will also enable us to create more and better tools that provide opportunities for interaction, co-creation, sharing within a social network and can provide rapid feedback on people’s progress. These include apps to allow people to track their alcohol units or calorie expenditure, to calculate how much money they have saved since they quit smoking and share their experiences of quitting with their friends via Facebook.

The only problem is that as diffusion of innovation theory shows, for every ‘early adopter‘ you have, you will have a lot of ‘late adopters‘ and many of these will also be very likely to be the people with the most challenging health issues. Can we afford in public health marketing for these people to be reached last, when lives are at risk? We would argue that values are a significant influence when it comes to the dynamics of cultural change

New behaviours are thus adopted in this order of values which adds to our understanding as to how different people react in a situation where an innovation in behaviour or technology is occurring. However this process takes significant amounts of time, which may not be helpful in a public health context, so it is important to also consider approaches that ‘match motivations’: communicating in various ways in order for people to follow the same behaviour for different motivations in order to satisfy different needs.

Finally the report sets out an outline of elements that will be evaluated at a national level. This is a helpful pointer to the development of future Health Premiums proposed in the Public Health White Paper.

Each programme’s evaluation plan will set out in detail the:

  • Evaluation objectives.
  • KPIs – devised in relation to the desired behavioural outcomes (and in line with best practice, ie output, outtakes, outcomes and impact).
  • Methodology and data sources.

We will use a mix of methods, incorporating market research (qualitative and quantitative), commercial sector data (wherever possible, supplied for free as part of our partnership arrangement), online panels, search, buzz monitoring and website analytics as well as other surveys conducted by government departments and agencies, such as Health Survey of England. Our increased use of social media and digital tools will generate vast amounts of behavioural data, which will be used in tracking citizen behaviours.

In conclusion, it is good to see the development of a clear strategy in these uncertain times; however it is important that at a time of expenditure reductions, changes are phased and that replacement services are tested through insight research that examines new approaches with all segments of the community. This might then avoid some of the problems over take-up of services that so interested the national media over the weekend!

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.


The interplay between Social Networks and Values?

May 26, 2011

We have written a number of times (1. Weak ties; 2. Nudges; 3. Public Health) about the importance of social networks for building social capital and resilience in the poorest communities. A report published last week by the RSA, as part of their Connected Communities Project, adds to the case.

In 2010, the RSA published Connected Communities: How social networks power and sustain the Big Society, which explored how social networks could contribute to community regeneration and had the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.

They have now published a follow-up report Power Lines which look at networks of power and influence, and in particular those who are isolated in the community.  The paper also argues that the government’s efforts to develop a Big Society are too focused on citizen-led service delivery. Instead the authors argue that an approach based on utilising and building people’s social networks, which largely determine our ability to create change and influence decisions that affect us, may prove more effective. The authors say:

Our work suggests that people feel a greater sense of empowerment if they have a larger and more varied number of local connections and relationships. This is because denser and more varied connections give people better access to information, opportunities and assets, and therefore make it possible for them to club together effectively on the issues that matter most to them.

The report looks at what happens when social networks are relatively weak:

As the key findings indicate, there are a number of factors which are correlated with being disconnected from local influence. These include
being unemployed, being retired, living in an area with low overall levels of connection, or having fewer local connections in general. While efforts to build better connected communities should include strategies to increase social connections and support networks, we also, of course, need to recognise and address the structural reasons why certain individuals are more likely to be disconnected.

These weaker links can have quite a significant social cost to individuals, to wider communities and to society as a whole:

Life course, population churn, unemployment or family changes can reduce networks that used to exist. Those over the age of 65 emerged as a particular at-risk group: contacts can move away or pass away, and without activities that foster connectivity (such as work and
having children in a local school) it can become difficult to replace those ties. An area that contains many people with few ties — an area with higher levels of unemployed people or retired people — will then reinforce few connectivity levels because there will be less chance meetings between people and their friends of friends. Less chance meetings, or ‘friend interaction’, will in turn reinforce the lower likelihood of these people getting jobs or joining clubs that might increase connections.

It then makes a number of positive suggestions as to how public policy can make the most of increased awareness of social networks suggesting wider network mapping, targeted interventions, networking services and use of the newly launched community organisers scheme to help much of this along.

There are a number of examples of public services that have already embraced this approach. A recent report cites the way that the Paxton
Green Group Practice use Timebanking to connect patients with each other. As well as reducing GP appointments this approach builds and
sustains new connections in the surrounding area. The Southwark Circle scheme is another example of this kind of social network inspired
approach to public services. The scheme’s main purpose is to help people get support for everyday tasks in their home. However, integral to the design of the scheme is the ability for people who benefit from these services to connect with each other. This has lead to a whole array of social events for people who would otherwise be quite isolated.

This report, whilst shorter than the 2010 one, is a much better exposition of the case for social networks. However whilst it identifies the many differences within a community, it does not fully address the impact of the relative density and type of social network and how that impacts on how individuals make sense of the world and the world views and narratives they adopt.

We would argue from our work in similar communities – especially around community cohesion issues – that understanding social networks is not enough on its own and one has to understand the values within a community which impact on people’s attitudes towards connection with others.

Let me give some examples. Those with sustenance, safety and security values may see very small closely social networks creating bonding social capital as reassuring, whilst those with inner directed values enjoy the weak links of widely distributed social networks generating bridging social capital and see networking as fundamental to what they do in life.

The report does implicitly cover the issue. The description below illustrates the potential Values Gap that we have previously blogged about between the highly networked and those whose values and subsequent social capital is more security and safety conscious:

More often than not, participation is defined too narrowly. Consequently, there is a focus on so-called ‘active’ citizens (typically labelled the ‘usual suspects’), identified through their contacts with local councillors, voting  behaviour in elections, vocal membership of local groups, or written responses to local consultations. Such citizens represent our vision of  what it is to be empowered and to have influence.  This paper argues that to increase access to local power — understood as the ability to get things  done and change one’s circumstances and local community — the focus must first be on fostering overall social connections and neighbourliness.

As well as the impact of values on social networks, at the same time the nature of a social network in a community may reinforce the prevalent values in a community. Thus there is likely to be an interplay between values and social networks with both influencing each other. The economist Paul Ormerod, who wrote the related RSA paper N Squared Public policy and the power of networks, made the point at his own RSA lecture of the importance of understanding both Networks and Values.

Clearly more research is required. It is possible that different types of complex social network (scale free, small world etc) might have an impact on the size of social network, social capital and values and their interplay, but not enough research has yet been done to test this hypothesis.

We hope the RSA and others follow-up on this research and seek to understand the interplay between Social Networks and Values to enable targeted public policy interventions to make the most of the limited resources that are available in the current financial climate.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

Social Animals and the Bigger Society

May 24, 2011

Yesterday’s speech by the Prime Minister launching the Giving White Paper was interesting for three reasons.

Firstly he talked as much about building a “Bigger Society” as he did the “Big Society” itself. Perhaps he is recognising the difference between “means” and “ends” that we have blogged about here. A recognition of the difference is important so expectations are not raised through a wrong message that is communicated at a difficult time. This might even reduce the inevitable cynicism towards what are perceived to be Big Society “relaunches”. Communicating the difference between means and ends is important in the areas where there is political consensus on this subject, as it will take years to build community capacity, as well as to address the perceived broken social contract between the government and those who perceive they are unfairly affected by current public sector expenditure reductions, which are characterised by Twitter tweets like this:

Relaunch of Big Society yesterday fell flat. Why should individuals give more when Govt crucifies their jobs and lives? #BigSociety

As those who work in the field of behaviour change and values will testify, full reciprocity in this current area of controversy will only come when many people feel they are being treated fairly by any of the changes suggested by the Prime Minister, in order to respond positively to it.

Secondly, David Cameron made two references to humans as a social animal and also referred to David Brooks  and his recent book of the same name on how public policy can address people at an emotional level. We would argue that this is also the place where social networks and values interact – both reinforcing and changing people to various degrees.

For too long, government policy has been made without enough understanding of the things I’ve been talking about today – family, community, relationships.

When it comes to decisions about how and where to spend money, how policies are designed and implemented, how reforms are carried out…

…government has sometimes seemed to carry on oblivious to the fact that we are human beings, behaving in ways that ministers and officials can’t possibly plan or predict.

Government has ignored the fact that at heart, as the American writer David Brooks eloquently points out in his new book – we are social animals.

In this past decade we have surely tested to destruction the idea that a bit more state action here, a welfare payment, law or initiative there will get to grips with the crime, the drug addiction, the family breakdown that plagues too many of our communities.

Social problems need social solutions.

And in a way that I don’t think has been sufficiently appreciated, we are bringing that insight right into the heart of the business of government.

Right across Whitehall we are today applying to the design of policy the best that science teaches us about how people behave – and what drives their well-being.

The need to address people at an emotional level is a subject close to the hearts of us at TCC as we have been making a similar point for a number of years. This is why criticisms of the book not telling us that much new are a bit unfair; what Brooks was doing was not making simply a rationally objective pitch to us, but also bringing together the most recent scientific findings within a more emotionally constructed narrative to get across his points.

We also know the Prime Minister was meeting David Brooks as the author himself referred to the meeting last Wednesday at his RSA “Social Animal” lecture (audio file here) that we tweeted about on Twitter at the time.

It is also welcome news that the Treasury Green Book is being revised to take account of some form of Social Return On Investment (SROI) and that this might also be linked to the new well-being measures that we have blogged about here. Matthew Taylor, head of the RSA,  has also blogged about the importance of this point here.

We are revising the ‘Green Book’ – the basis on which the Government assesses the costs and benefits of different policies – to fully take account of their social impact.

We are developing a new test for all policies – that they should demonstrate not just how they help reduce public spending and cut regulation and bureaucracy – but how they create social value too.

And, the Office for National Statistics is developing new independent measures of well-being so that by the end of the year, we will be the first developed country in the world that is able rigorously to measure progress on more than just GDP.

Taken together, these may be the most quietly radical things this government is doing.

Thirdly and finally, he also addressed current political debates. Was this passage below a response to the current Blue Labour approach that was initiated by Maurice Glasman and a big subject for debate?

In the past, the left focused on the state and the right focused on the market.

We’re harnessing that space in between – society – the ‘hidden wealth’ of our nation.

The idea that the centre right is simply about the philosophy of individualism – of personal and commercial freedom – is a travesty of our tradition.

From Edmund Burke and Adam Smith in the 18th century, from Hegel and de Tocqueville in the 19th, to Hayek and Oakeshott in the 20th – all have been clear that individual freedom is only half the story.

Tradition, community, family, faith, the space between the market and the state – this is the ground where our philosophy is planted.

The things I’ve spoken about today – modernising public services, rebuilding responsibility, strengthening family and community all this represents a massive cultural change.

But if we get it right, it will not just benefit our society, it will benefit our economy too.

Going beyond the party politics, its shows that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are beginning to recognise that rapid changes over the last twenty years are proving very disconcerting to those who hold values around sustenance, safety and security needs. In the coming years that will be an increasing area for debate, not just for politicians, but also for many people working in public policy; to ensure that interventions across public health, community cohesion, service transformation, social mobility and many other areas address and resonate with people who hold those motivational needs and values.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

Public Perceptions of the NHS

May 16, 2011

The debate on the future development of the NHS continues with the Prime Minister speaking on the subject today.

What do the public think about the possibility of change?

The Department of Health’s own regular survey of public perceptions of the NHS was published on Friday and whilst only covers the period up to December 2010, nevertheless shows some changes in perception since the previous survey in March 2010, prior to the General Election.

What are the key points?

  • The report has positives and negatives for the Government. People are broadly content about the NHS (70% satisfied to 14% dissatisfied) and think it has improved perhaps reflecting some recognition of the investment of the last government, whilst being more optimistic (as of December 2010) about the future of the NHS (pages 12-13)
  • Because this is a publicly funded report, rather than a political one, it perhaps lacks for not detailing political affiliation. Previous research by the same Pollsters for the NHS Confederation shows that:

“experience of the NHS is not the most significant driver of general public satisfaction and that many other factors determine the public’s views about how the NHS is run at a national level. Political beliefs, support for the Government and age are much greater drivers.

Support for the Government seems to be tied to the public’s perception of the NHS so that disenchantment with the Government translates into scepticism about the NHS and vice versa. A range of opinion polling suggests that confidence in the Government’s conduct of public service reform and management of public services is currently not high and has declined markedly over the last few years.”

  • From the above, one might therefore expect supporters of the new Government to have shifted from past negativity towards the NHS – perhaps over past media issues like hospital cleanliness – to a much greater optimism, whilst as of December 2010  – when the NHS debate was still very much a minority sport prior to the TUC March and the local election campaign issues – new opposition voters were still quite optimistic about the NHS. Thus we see the first increase in optimism towards the NHS since 2005 (pages 12-13). It might now be reasonable to expect this  to decline in the next report?
  • As of December there was a low level of understanding of the reforms with just 24% broadly aware and 73% unaware. This is likely to be significantly higher now after some of the public comments by the medical and nursing profession.
  • It is interesting to note there is for the first time a gender difference in satisfaction with more women dissatisfied (page 8). This may reflect the impact of job fears on the NHS workforce, with a high percentage of women working for it.
  • There was a widening gap between satisfaction of users compared to non-users (page 9). This may show the potential of using staff as advocates for explaining change issues.
  • GP’s and outpatient services have the most satisfied patients, (page 10). This perhaps indicates that when services want to improve levels of satisfaction they should seek to personalise the nature of the relationship – ie between patient and GP, consultant and nurse rather than between patient and institution
  • Commissioning by GP still seems the most popular aspect of the reforms as well as cutting bureaucracy. People who mention this tend to be more optimistic about the NHS (page 19). No doubt the government will continue to focus on them as positives. In terms of some of the reform issues, these were the percentages in who were positive compared to those who were negative (pages 20-26):

– GP commissioning – 47% to 20%
– GP understanding of patient needs – 79% to 15%
– Impact of community care – 64% to 15%
– Awareness of patient commitments to register with any GP and access to patient records – 42%-54% and 46% to 51%
– Involvement in treatment – 74% to 14%
– Choose treatment – 56% to 21%
– Wish to get involved in decisions over treatment 17% to 55% – as can be seen here patients seem very content to trust the professionals. This is much higher with Older people and DE’s demographically. In values terms one might also see a higher sustenance driven Settler percentage here.

  • The NHS was still a low priority issue in December compared to the Economy (page 28) though one might expect it to have risen in the first few months of the year to now be the second most important issue
  • An interesting table on page 30 on perceptions of the biggest issue. Cancer and Obesity top the poll relatively far ahead of smoking and heart disease. Public Health campaigning in future might need to address public perceptions as well as the issue itself?
  • There are some minor negatives (page 33) with managing budgets (25% to 39%) seen to be poor (see also pages 36 and 37). Waiting Times (page 35) are seen as increasing and this could become a bigger political issue by next Winter?
  • It is interesting to note that the proportion of people who know where to get information on the quality of local services in only 54% and this has declined from 59% in March 2010 (page 40).  People’s motivation to access information is often impacted by their values and we have blogged on some of the differences here.

The future of the NHS is likely to remain a significant public policy issue for the rest of the year as there is speculation over whether the Government’s current pause is extended. More public surveying at PCT/Locality level as well as continued national polling might enable us all to understand what changes the public are really happy with and which are the ones that do require far more public and parliamentary debate.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

Gaining deeper understanding of your local community through Insight Hub

May 13, 2011

Understanding why people in your community think and act the way they do, and the resulting insights into how to change things, is fundamental to delivering better public services cost effectively.

That is why TCC in collaboration with ComRes and Local Futures has launched Insight Hub – a one-stop-shop for all your insight needs_that helps you deploy your resources flexibly and appropriately. And it is unique because it doesn’t just analyse what people do – it also tells you why they are motivated to do it.

The Place Survey fell into the category of information rather than insight. Useful for knowing where you are but not very useful for knowing where you should be heading or how to get there. We use a combination of psychological, behavioural and demographic segmentation to help you understand where you should be heading and how to get there and can advise and support follow-up interventions based on the insight.

The tools we use include:

  • The most comprehensive psychological survey of the British population available – The British Values Modes Survey
  • Access to geodemographic information – the  Output Area Classification
  • A range of tried and trusted survey approaches, but also new approaches like story capture and innovations like peer-to-peer networks.

This comprehensive approach is vital if you want to change perceptions or behaviours. It is therefore specifically designed to be relevant to paragraphs 31 and 32 of the recently published CLG Code of Recommended Practice on Local Government Publicity. Many local authorities will, in response, be revising their communications strategies to move away from traditional forms of publicity to more cost-effective forms of engagement targeted at specific behaviours in order to achieve efficiencies in an era of reduced budgets.

Whether it is encouraging more volunteering, enablement, reducing the demands on your services by adapting how you deliver them or developing outcomes baselines, for new challenges like Public Health White Paper delivery, you need accurate insight to make it a reality.

Insight Hub is based on collaboration between three established companies with complementary skills. Between us we have many years experience working with the public, private and voluntary sector to help them understand the people they serve and make a difference. We are also practitioners who use our insight to develop interventions, and we use the experience from the interventions to test the robustness of our insight.

  • The Campaign Company works with councils, the police, health providers, and other public sector bodies, to help them develop innovative approaches to insight gathering, engagement, and behaviour change
  • ComRes is a major public polling organisation that conducts research providing insight for political parties, government organisations, charities, and private sector companies
  • Local Futures works with councils across the country, helping them to understand their places and communities better and working with them to create long-term visions for the future

For more information including pricing, download the Insight Hub pack here or contact Nick Pecorelli on 0208 6880650 email or go to our website here.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.