The role of PR and content in educating and changing behaviours

By Pelican MD Michael Bennett

3 minute read

Key takeaways

  • An understanding of a business’s target audiences is vital in the approach towards raising awareness, education and changing behaviours
  • Start with journalists and other industry experts, as the gatekeepers to a business’s target audiences

A recent news story revealed the shocking truth that nine in 10 UK adults don’t understand the circular economy, with the vast majority (87%) not having heard of the concept previously or able to define what it means.

PR and content play a hugely important role in helping to educate, raise awareness of a concept or encourage behavioural change, and clearly, the circular economy is a concept which still requires all three. However, this news story, with the research commissioned by sustainability platform, YoungPlanet, is a great example of this business using PR and Content to educate and change behaviours.

How to use PR and content to raise awareness and educate an audience 

Before launching straight in with a PR and content strategy, businesses should start by gathering an understanding of their target audience. Find out what is important to them, what would make them take your desired action, where is best to reach them, and where they typically consume information. By combining all of this insight, it becomes much easier to devise a PR and content strategy that will engage target audiences.

While a business’s ultimate aim may be to encourage behaviour change, it’s important to take it one step at a time. Start with a focus on raising awareness of the concept or desired action and education of the target audiences on the reasons why action is needed or why the concept is important.

It may be difficult to reach target audiences and communicate a message to them effectively in the early stages of adoption and uptake. This is where a well-considered PR strategy by a team of public relations experts is beneficial. Start with journalists and other industry opinion formers, as the gatekeepers to a business’s target audiences, as if they aren’t aware of a concept, it’ll be a much harder process.

It is only when these thought leaders and influencers are wholly aware and educated should a business move on towards trying to achieve behaviour change.

PR tactics for encouraging behavioural change

There are a variety of PR tactics that can be considered as a way to increase awareness of a concept or position a business as a thought leader in its field, as well as to influence consumer behaviour.

Here are some of the PR tactics we have previously delivered for our clients.

Thought leadership

Thought leadership is an ideal way of using long-form content to educate readers on a particular subject. This typically is achieved via a more formal feature in a trade-specific media outlet or as part of a white paper to showcase an organisation or an individual’s expertise and position as a leader in its field. However, thought leadership can also be communicated via a top tips or advice-style piece, with businesses sharing their expertise to help a consumer overcome a problem.

Survey-led PR stories

Data-led news stories are a great way to take something consumers are already familiar with and use this format to educate them on a new area. For example, many of the stories you read in national newspapers or trade titles are based on research commissioned to highlight an issue or topic.

Expert commentary

Having spokespeople available within a business to offer expert commentary or ‘newsjacking’ on the back of a trending topic is a key way new concepts can be weaved in naturally and education is gradually built up.

Case studies

Case studies are a proven way of demonstrating how ideas or concepts have been put into practice and the results that have been achieved from them. Having a strong third-party testimonial is also a sound way of building up credibility around a concept and instilling trust.


Infographics enable complicated subjects or data-heavy information to be visually communicated so key messages become much more appealing and accessible for readers. Secondly, it also requires less time on the reader’s behalf to take-in and understand a message.

We’re proven experts in using PR and content to educate audiences and drive consumer change. Our multi award-winning CSR marketing campaign with APEAL encouraged audiences to take a fresh look at steel as a packaging option. We incorporated a range of PR, content and marketing tactics, including media outreach, exhibitions, video content, infographics, brochure design, e-newsletters, social media and digital advertising.

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash