Bring Creativity To Public Policy: Dr. Michelle Harrison, WPP

Dr Michelle Harrison, WPP
Dr Michelle Harrison, WPP

Change begins with the willingness to do so. No future around digital governance, moving public services online or any other such progressive step can be accomplished without citizens willing to change behavior. Dr. Michelle Harrison, CEO, Government & Public Sector Practice, WPP stated this at the Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity, adding, “And that is what we are about.”

She explained that whether it is attempting to eliminate malaria across West Africa, or getting children back to normal size in the UK, or reducing smoking penetration across Asia, effective communication is at the heart of a successful public policy. “If we believe that creativity and insight are at the heart of effective communication, it also means that the marketing communication industry sits absolutely at the heart of the ability to work with governments around the world to bring the best of their creativity and deliver answers for the biggest social problems,” she said.

There has been a massive increase in discussion around issues such as behavorial economics and nudge theory. A trend popularizing academics subjects into popular literature has been forming shape for a while now. “For creative agencies and media planning agencies, this really has not come as any surprise. A marketing professional knows how to talk to rational human beings who connect to emotional messages,” Dr Harrison observed.

Wrong Insight Gets You Nowhere
While people respond well to stories, creativity and to any kind of emotional influence that relates to a rational economic thought, governments around the world have traditionally not worked like that. They have worked on the idea of rational behavior where they can use policy leaders and taxing legislations to get people to do what they want. The change needs to come in this approach.

Dr Harrison pointed out that when communication professionals are doing work for behavioral change campaigns for government, they work on the basis of theoretical saturation, which means researching until the stories start to repeat themselves.

“You might be spending huge amount of money and effort on creatively tackling the wrong thing. Wrong insight can get you nowhere. When you are working on issues, you need to get to the core of the issue and then device the right route for behavior change,” she advised.

In the marketing communication sector, long term tracking is a requisite. Governments tend to very deeply focus on testing and evaluating pieces, but they should increase the opportunities of creative working. Bringing creativity at the centre of the approach will lead to successful movements.

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