Given that social marketing is about persuasion and behavioural change, can it be leveraged to save the Great Barrier Reef?
It can help, but it can’t do it alone. It needs to work alongside environmental scientists and a range of organisations.
“We’re dealing with the human factors,” Lynne says. “What we can do is influence people’s behaviour in terms of things that will impact the Reef. This can range from reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up on the Reef to working with land managers to minimise the impact of pesticide, fertilisers and sediment that get into waterways and then into the ocean.”
Part of the difficulty is that saving the Reef is a wicked problem with many complex elements involved in finding a solution – similar to the issues with tackling climate change.
“Climate change is classed as a super wicked problem because time is running out and there’s no one organisation that has overall responsibility,” Lynne explains.
“The Reef is in much the same sort of situation but if we want people to act, we need to show them that individual actions can make a difference and give them practical options for how they can help.”
Professor Lynne Eagle
As a career, social marketers can work in academia as researchers or they can go into practice as a consultant and potentially work all over the world.
“We could do with a lot more social marketers, both in Australia and internationally,” she says. “It’s more rewarding than anything else I have done. I have worked on a diverse range of projects over the years, from health-related projects such as reducing skin cancer rates and the effects of passive smoking on children to the acceptance of renewable energy and wider environmental protection problems.”