As the Demo Project-Reduction of Plastic Bags is concerned with behavioral change, awareness, and sustainable impact, the sixth consultation session targeted media and public relations specialists. It acted as an opinion poll for media experts on the role of mass media in raising the awareness of the National initiative for plastic bags reduction. “When, how long, where, and how to publicize the initiative” was the main topic of the meeting held on July 31st., 2017.
Thirteen different entities participated in the session organized by the Ministry of Environment and CEDARE in partnership with UNEnvironment, contributing to the community dialogue mandated by the Project. These included PR & advertising agencies, digital marketing and social media companies, magazines & newspaper, and marketing consultants.
Extensive discussions deliberated experts’ viewpoints in light of the presentation delivered by the Plastic Technology Center, which tackled the harms of non-degradable single use plastic bags with respect to national economy, environment & public health, other countries’ case studies, and Egypt’s statistics and status quo.
Experts agreed that it is, yet, important to partner with other governmental institutions, NGOs and corporations in their CSR programmes and engage different stakeholders to maximize the impact of the campaign. Everyone agreed that social media is the most efficient medium with the highest engagement and reachability rate; especially videos. The awareness campaign should be sustainable and long term one as behavioral change needs persistent communication through long span of time.
Regarding the most effective media channel for each stage and each target group, some participants recommended that the awareness campaign should start with TV, since it is the most effective and impactful channel which gets automatically transformed to social media; while others suggested utilizing all media channels at the same time including TV, Radio, newspapers, social media, and direct advertising at sport clubs, schools, and rural areas. Specific messages can be communicated via videos, movies, series, talk shows, public service ads and print materials. Meanwhile, journalists expressed their willingness to write articles about the negative impacts of plastic bags on the environment, human health, & national economy.
Marketing specialists stressed the importance of mapping the various stakeholders and developing situation analysis and SWOT analysis featuring the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as well. This should result in short, medium and long term plans. Besides, they think it is essential to apply research and comparative analysis and capitalize on other countries’ similar attempts.
The campaign, which classifies multi-target audiences; namely residential, retailers, civil society, and plastic bags manufacturers, should communicate specific message for end users or consumers rather than the message addressing producers. It should also be synergetic to competently address the objective and message of each stakeholder.