The Case for Behavioral Insights in Public Affairs

Our team helps clients: identify their audiences, understand who they are and the narratives driving their engagement, and positively influence and what they think and do.

An old mentor once told me that “we’re not in the awareness business.”

He meant that when companies and non-profits spend money on communications, it is because they need their audience to actually do something — whether that be to purchase a product, advocate for their issue, contribute to their cause, invest in their company, or have more trust in their brand.

The core of every communications strategy should always answer these key questions: Who is the audience? What do we need them to do? How should we engage them to do it? Where can we reach them? Why should they care?

It doesn’t necessarily take data analytics or behavioral science to answer those questions. After all, many of us in the industry have run successful campaigns for decades without them. We have used our experience and our instincts, and often have the benefit of opinion polling. But in these uncertain and constantly changing times, instinct is often no longer enough. We can use not only art, but also science – including a trove of rich audience data, behavioral science that explains how people think and make decisions, and human-centered design that shows us how ideas play out in the real world.

With the launch of VOX’s latest practice — VOX Behavioral Insights — we seek to provide those insights to all our clients.

VOX uses Omnicom Public Relations Group’s advanced analytics platform to identify the most relevant audiences for a campaign, who they are, where they get their information, who influences them and what motivates them. With that data in hand, VOX applies behavioral science principles about how, when and why people make decisions. 

With these insights, we can design communications campaigns based on a clear understanding of who the people are that we’re trying to move, the right messengers and the most effective way to move them.

Using these audience analytics tools, VOX’s Behavioral Insights team can also produce Insights Reports for clients. One example is a Narrative Analysis Report, which examines the thousands—or millions—of social posts, Reddit threads and news articles about a topic, then uses machine learning and qualitative analysis to identify the broader narratives that are driving the conversations. The report uncovers opportunities and risks for organizations as they engage in these conversations. To date, these reports have helped VOX’s clients make informed decisions based on narratives surrounding issues such as higher education, technology, agriculture, energy policy and more.

We have brought in more than a dozen team members whose expertise includes data, behavioral science, targeted digital advertising, and other areas of expertise like issue advocacy, ESG and social media. We share a common interest in helping our clients understand their audiences. That is why I refer to our team as the “Audience Practice.”
Put simply, we help clients identify their audiences, understand who they are and the narratives driving their engagement, and then positively influence what they think and do.

If your goal is to move your audience from awareness to action, let’s talk.

Team Members

James Baril_2
James Baril


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