The Secret to Driving Social Change: How to Boost Public Support for Public Works

Public works are essential to improve the quality of life and economy of a town or city, but it can also be very hard to garner public support for them. After all, big changes such as adding in long stretches of bike lanes are going to interrupt traffic flow and cause delays and frustrations amongst those commuting (and that’s just one issue).

You can build a series of bike lanes, for example, and yet not have people use it. At that point you have an expensive public undertaking that frustrated the communities involved and offered no tangible benefit overall.

That’s why it’s so important to get public approval on your side. You aren’t just getting the green light on public works—you’re working towards driving societal change that will drastically impact the health and wellbeing of the communities that you manage.

A bike lane is just a stretch of road until you have a health marketing campaign that promotes bicycling, cycling to work schemes, and aid programs to help low-income families switch to cycling.

To boost support across the board, for any type of public work, you need four key factors under your belt, which are highlighted below.

A Winning Campaign

You need a winning campaign from a company that understands NGOs and the public sector inside and out on your side, such as Eleven Marketing. The goal here is to create a campaign that not just markets the program, but drives the societal change needed for the public to take full advantage of the program in question.

Not all public works need to drive social change. For example, a new sewer system doesn’t require any change of behavior from the community. What you need then is to market the value of the project so that those interrupted by construction works aren’t frustrated. A necessary evil (construction) needs to be worthwhile for the public.

Support Systems

If you do need to drive public change in order for the project to fully come to realization, then you’ll need a support system in place. A second-hand bike program where the city pays for unused bikes can be a great way to reduce waste, service old bikes, and sell them to low-income citizens that are looking for a more cost-effective way to get around. Support systems help those that cannot afford the personal cost of behavioral change get on board (with the example of bike lanes, for example).

Steady Progress

There’s nothing more frustrating than works that get delayed for years and just cause a mess. The longer your project goes on for (especially without any progress whatsoever) the more public opinion is going to sour. Effective project management, alongside with public support, will help keep these works going. Delays are fine, so long as work keeps getting done and your community can see movement.

Amplify the Right Voices

You need people to be promoting all the important points about your project. A campaign for bike lanes needs to go alongside a health and wellness campaign that advertises the health benefits of cycling, for example. It needs to showcase how much safer and more convenient biking can be, and it needs everyone to reiterate that biking is a good idea; that it’s great for your health, your wallet, and so on. Looking to other countries that have successfully implemented the public works project you are working on is a great way to understand just what it takes to fully bring the project to life.