Hallmarks of successful national/UK water efficiency campaigns

Prepared by Waterwise for Defra, October 2022

Governance and leadership

  1. Clear governance established at the beginning – decision-making structure, brand protection, IP, who is ‘bringing’ what and who is ‘receiving’ what (including but not only on funding), etc
  2. Independent voices are central/primary and seen to be so (and not4profits funded for their time)
  3. Not just a water company campaign – leadership, governance and branding to be inclusive and beyond water companies only, reaching into other sectors and using the links with for example energy, food, public health. Model could be for example funded by companies and led independently, with appropriate governance, as with ‘Save our water’ in California
  4. Run at a UK level, with hooks for national and regional campaigns
  5. Not seen as a silver bullet campaign – the most effective approach is likely to be campaigns plural, working together and building on existing national/UK campaigns

Design, scope and execution

  1. Socio-scientific planning – for example, in advance, clearly defining who the target audience is; tailoring messaging for different demographics/audience; clearly defining what the desired action(s) for change is/are; defining the suitable channels for engagement – channels that allow 2-way communication, not just those for information dispersal; message design informed by the above
  2. Water-saving impact measured as well as social media reach and impressions – enables water companies to know which campaign interventions work so they can dial them up in times of water shortage
  3. Having the right experts involved – for example, actively using focus groups and previous experience from experts on what works for water efficiency and different demographics in the design and marketing as well as messages; including water efficiency and behaviour change experts (within the companies and wider) included, not only communications and marketing experts
  4. Covering businesses and households – the vast majority of business customers use water for domestic purposes, namely taps, toilets and showers
  5. Influencing behaviour as well as awareness-raising
  6. Hooks and resources included to embed change within communities
  7. Research built into the design – so that every delivery cycle doubles as a study to better understand the public’s ever-evolving perception/attitudes/behaviour/support needs etc and by extension, explore new engagement strategies/practices to better support people to increase water efficiency. EA is funding Waterwise to produce a toolkit in summer 2023 to inform this Include lesson-learning, practice improvement, then build on for next campaign

Always on, but adaptive – ie year-round, which can be ramped up and scaled down depending on weather/events/river levels etc. Flexibility with new spins added on is necessary to keep public interest and mitigate against participation fatigue