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Best Practices in 
Creating 
Social Change
Want to change the 
world for the better? 
(who doesn’t?) 
You need to communicate with force, 
intelligence and inspiration. 
Check out the following tips for 
communicating with persuasion and 
influence.
Harness the power of social proof. 
Seeing others doing something makes it 
the norm and makes us want to do it as 
well. 
How can you show lots of people 
repeatedly taking the actions you want to 
encourage? 
harness social proof
You can establish new 
behaviours by increasing 
their status. 
Make them trendy and 
sought-after or just an 
accepted part of normal 
behavior. 
give 
it status
engage 
emotions 
Rational messages are useful, but they don’t change behavior. 
Emotion tells us something important is happening. It gets our 
attention. 
We only care about things we have feelings about. 
You won’t inspire behavior change without engaging emotions.
emotions aren’t equal 
Use emotions like amazement, wonder, 
surprise, awe, triumph and joy to your 
heart’s content. 
Use anger and fear judiciously. 
Avoid sadness, guilt and gloom. 
They make people tune-out and 
become apathetic.
Emotions alone are 
not enough to 
persuade and 
influence. Use a 
balance of emotions 
and logic in your 
communications. 
use emotion + logic
Aristotle claimed that to persuade, one must employ 
three types of argument: ethical appeal (ethos), 
emotional appeal (pathos), and logical appeal (logos). 
Facts alone are not sufficient to persuade. They need to 
be complemented with just the right balance of credibility 
and content that tugs at the heartstrings. 
Nancy Duarte 
"Aristotle (384-322 BC)" by 
Tilemahos Efthimiadis; Flickr CC2.0
stand out 
Be unusual to stand out (but base it on 
being yourself, on your values and your 
ideals).
establish limited time 
Show people we’re at a fork in the road 
and there’s limited time to choose. 
The other leads to an 
undesirable future. 
One fork leads to 
your positive 
vision. 
Time to 
choose…
Inspiration is good. Lead with a positive view 
of the future that gets people excited to make 
change. 
Create positive feelings about the behaviours 
you want to inspire. 
inspire
demonstrate 
evolution 
For people to want something, they 
have to believe it’s better than what 
they currently have. 
So to get them excited about your 
vision, show them how and why it’s 
better than their current reality. Make 
your vision come alive.
People share stories, 
not data. 
We process new information by slotting it 
into what we already know. People can 
make quick sense of very complex 
information when conveyed as story. 
Stories also engage people’s emotions. 
Research shows that people tend to 
better remember information that triggers 
emotion over the same information that 
doesn’t.
visualize 
That thing about a picture being 
worth a 1000 words is true. 
Images engage imagination and 
are retained longer. 
So examine your text - where you 
can replace it with images?
Ask for the change you want. 
People say, ‘we’re telling them about 
ourselves or giving them information. 
Isn’t it obvious what we’re asking?’ 
The simple answer is no. It’s not 
enough to explain why an action is 
important, you also need to ask 
people to do it and remove obstacles 
to them taking action. 
ask 
for 
action
Want strategic communications? Social marketing plus+ 
Contact Sherlock Ink 
info@sherlockink.com 
www.SherlockInk.com 
Strategic 
Sustainability and Communications 
• Strategic Communications 
• Deep Sustainability Strategy 
• Social Marketing Plus+ 
• Research 
• Stakeholder Engagement 
• Organizational Development

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Communicating for social change

  • 1. Best Practices in Creating Social Change
  • 2. Want to change the world for the better? (who doesn’t?) You need to communicate with force, intelligence and inspiration. Check out the following tips for communicating with persuasion and influence.
  • 3. Harness the power of social proof. Seeing others doing something makes it the norm and makes us want to do it as well. How can you show lots of people repeatedly taking the actions you want to encourage? harness social proof
  • 4. You can establish new behaviours by increasing their status. Make them trendy and sought-after or just an accepted part of normal behavior. give it status
  • 5. engage emotions Rational messages are useful, but they don’t change behavior. Emotion tells us something important is happening. It gets our attention. We only care about things we have feelings about. You won’t inspire behavior change without engaging emotions.
  • 6. emotions aren’t equal Use emotions like amazement, wonder, surprise, awe, triumph and joy to your heart’s content. Use anger and fear judiciously. Avoid sadness, guilt and gloom. They make people tune-out and become apathetic.
  • 7. Emotions alone are not enough to persuade and influence. Use a balance of emotions and logic in your communications. use emotion + logic
  • 8. Aristotle claimed that to persuade, one must employ three types of argument: ethical appeal (ethos), emotional appeal (pathos), and logical appeal (logos). Facts alone are not sufficient to persuade. They need to be complemented with just the right balance of credibility and content that tugs at the heartstrings. Nancy Duarte "Aristotle (384-322 BC)" by Tilemahos Efthimiadis; Flickr CC2.0
  • 9. stand out Be unusual to stand out (but base it on being yourself, on your values and your ideals).
  • 10. establish limited time Show people we’re at a fork in the road and there’s limited time to choose. The other leads to an undesirable future. One fork leads to your positive vision. Time to choose…
  • 11. Inspiration is good. Lead with a positive view of the future that gets people excited to make change. Create positive feelings about the behaviours you want to inspire. inspire
  • 12. demonstrate evolution For people to want something, they have to believe it’s better than what they currently have. So to get them excited about your vision, show them how and why it’s better than their current reality. Make your vision come alive.
  • 13. People share stories, not data. We process new information by slotting it into what we already know. People can make quick sense of very complex information when conveyed as story. Stories also engage people’s emotions. Research shows that people tend to better remember information that triggers emotion over the same information that doesn’t.
  • 14. visualize That thing about a picture being worth a 1000 words is true. Images engage imagination and are retained longer. So examine your text - where you can replace it with images?
  • 15. Ask for the change you want. People say, ‘we’re telling them about ourselves or giving them information. Isn’t it obvious what we’re asking?’ The simple answer is no. It’s not enough to explain why an action is important, you also need to ask people to do it and remove obstacles to them taking action. ask for action
  • 16. Want strategic communications? Social marketing plus+ Contact Sherlock Ink info@sherlockink.com www.SherlockInk.com Strategic Sustainability and Communications • Strategic Communications • Deep Sustainability Strategy • Social Marketing Plus+ • Research • Stakeholder Engagement • Organizational Development