Public interest communications

Catalyzing meaningful, lasting change requires a bold, strategic plan. If you want to do it right, public interest communications gives you your best advantage.

An emerging field, public interest communications is the art and science of persuading people to care enough about an issue to take action on it. It brings together strategic communication — particularly storytelling and evidence-based message framing — with cognitive, behavioral and social science. Just like other fields in the public interest, it’s dedicated to benefiting the greater good.

I use public interest communications in all my work, to varying degrees. As one example, to advocate on behalf of people who are visually impaired, we don’t need to convince them to work harder. We need to change the social systems that force people who are visually impaired to do so already. That means influencing educators and employers, policymakers and city planners, to take specific steps like making accessibility and inclusion the norm, not the exception.

These same principles and more can be applied to any cause or issue. They may involve not only strategic communication but also movement building, and can include multiple elements such as tailored messaging, peaceful demonstrations — particularly creative ones — and coordinated appeals to targeted legislators or corporate leaders. Public interest communications is so effective because it has a focused end goal, a well-defined and persuadable audience and a clear call to action that’s achievable.

I’m currently working toward my master’s degree in Mass Communication with a specialization in Public Interest Communication through the University of Florida online.