NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Social Marketing > Strategies > Communication

Each of the previous tools involves communication and can advance your program beyond the traditional information campaign. Information is powerful, yet can be even greater when used in combination with prompts, norms, incentives and commitment.

Here are some tips for a great communication component:
Use captivating information, such as alarming factoids to grab attention.
Use N.C. specific facts – such as “Every year, North Carolinians throw away enough trash to circle the earth twice.” Use artwork found on or

Owen Recycles

Use a credible source (such as the city or county recycling agency, yourselves, etc.).
Always include your phone number and Web site on all materials. People may want to recycle, but may not know how. With all these social marketing tools pushing them over the edge, make sure you give them a way to find out how to recycle!

Use personal contact.
Get the message out by speaking to people who can help influence others.

Make your message specific and easy to remember.
Make it easy to remember WHAT to do, HOW to do it, WHEN to do it and WHERE to do it. Since your program should focus on recycling all bottles with necks, that’s an easy message to tell.

Provide program targets for individuals and the community.
List your goals for recycling in the local newspaper and in your program materials. List personal goals for each individual/family/household, to give people program targets to work toward.

Model sustainable behavior.
Social diffusion theory shows that people adopt behaviors based on others around them. For more information check out the book “Diffusion of Innovations,” by Everett Rogers.

Know your audience - including their beliefs, attitudes and behavior.
Understand the audience you are working with and how important recycling is to them. This will help determine how you should best communicate with them. More information about this is below.

Before starting a campaign, it is essential to know about the audience you are trying to reach. A software program called PRIZM can help with that. Using Neilson, census and Equifax data, along with almost a million personal surveys, the company created a marketing database.

A small, free version is available at My Best Segments. When you type in a ZIP code it gives you a snapshot of the community including:
• Demographic descriptors,
• Age range,
• Homeownership,
• Employment,
• Education,
• Ethnicity and race, and
• Lifestyle preferences such as what the group watches on TV or reads, where they eat, what kind of car they drive and what kind of music they listen to.

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  Oral Communication
Oral communication is an essential tool when attempting to reach members of the community. Below are some successful examples of organizations that have used oral communication.

A. Land-of-Sky Regional Council's Mobile Environmental Learning Center
mobil education center

Designed and operated by Asheville’s Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the Mobile Environmental Learning Center is a hands-on waste reduction education classroom. Since its inception in 1999, MELC has educated more than 20,000 students in western N.C. counties about the importance of recycling, composting and proper waste disposal behaviors. It addresses the need for source reduction, increased participation in existing recycling programs, and more awareness of household hazardous waste issues.

B. Mecklenburg County PLANT Program
The Piedmont Landscape and Naturescape Training Program in Mecklenburg County works with local neighborhood groups to promote community naturescaping though workshops and neighborhood compost demonstration sites.

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  Written Communication
Written communication can also be a very successful tool at reaching the desired demographics and participants of your program. Written communication can be visually posted as a consistent reminder to an individual about the importance of your message.

Examples include:
A. Brochures
If your community needs help designing a recycling brochure, you can contact DPPEA for assistance. You will first pick out a brochure cover (option 1, 2, 3, or 4) and template that you like. A completed version of our brochure can be seen here. Then you will complete a short questionnaire so that we know what to put into the brochure. Turnaround time varies based on work load and schedules. There is no charge to local governments for brochure designs but local governments are responsible for the cost of printing.

Local Government Examples:
Woman Recycles

Buncombe County

Catawba County (Spanish)
Mecklenburg County
Macon County
N.C. State
Onslow County
Rutherford County
Union County

B. Decals
Recycle Guys decals decals

C. Newsletters
Conover newsletter

D. Posters
Recycle Guys posters posters
American Forest and Paper Association

E. Truck Advertisements –
Local government truck ads on Flickr

F. Social Media –
• Learn about’s use of social media to educate about recycling via this article in Resource Recycling’s December 2009 issue.

G. Press Release/Letters to the EditorTemplates
Recycling Rate Increase Letter to the Editor
Community Beginning Recycling Program Letter to the Editor
Think Water Conservation/Think Composting
Live Happy, Live Green, Celebrate Earth Day
Help Stimulate the Economy - Recycle
Recycling Myths Uncovered
Resolutions Worth Keeping
Recycling On-the-Go Letters to the Editor
[Organization] Encourages Citizens to Recycle "On the Go"
Make Your Summer Party Environmentally Friendly
Make Your Next Holiday Environmentally Friendly
Composting Reduces Global Warming - You Can Help
Recycling Helps to Decrease Climate Change - Do your part
Three New Landfill Bans Added to Current State List
Plastic Bottle Landfill Ban Letters to the Editor
Plastic Bottles Added to Statewide Landfill Ban List (discusses recycling cycle)
Plastic Bottles Join Aluminum Cans on Statewide Landfill Ban (discusses resin numbers)
America Recycles Day

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Pollution Prevention
North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
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