21 May 2019

By Karien Joubert

On Friday 17 May 2019, CREST had the privilege of welcoming Pavs Pillay as guest speaker at our ‘Science Friday @ Stellenbosch’ series for 2019. Pavs is the manager of the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) SA.

Sharing elements of her own journey from a marine scientist to a science communication strategist, Pavs reflected on lessons she’s learned along the way. She illustrated how sharing ‘naked facts’ is no longer enough to bring about the changes in our lifestyles and buying patterns that are essential to shift markets in order to ensure sustainable marine resource use. Her talk provided a fascinating snapshot of how an understanding of behavioral psychology informs the crafting of persuasive conservation messages and campaigns.

Scientists may not like it, but feelings and emotions are the power tools in this communication toolbox. People’s concerns, values and motivations are points of departure when you need to design communication campaigns that will make them take notice and care. This idea was well illustrated by her opening quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you want your audience to respond, make your messages simple, clear and actionable, Pavs said. For example “Go Green” is too vague, but “Say no to straws” is clear, simple and doable.