E4. Tips for great Smokefree content

Season #1 Episode #4

Our expert guest is Kate Knight, Programme Director, South Central NHS Commissioning Unit. Kate has been delivering public health behaviour change marketing campaigns for over ten years. Our chat today focuses on her time with Smoke Free South West and Public Health Action.  Working on behalf of Public Health Directors scorss the South-West she led a specialist social marketing and behaviour change team to develop regional award winning campaigns whose legacy lives on today.

Campaigns  included: Illegal Tobacco, Smoke Outside, Be There Tomorrow and  outdoor smoke-free areas including play parks. Kate led the work that culminated in Bristol piloting the first outdoor smoke-free areas.

Top three takeaways to support communications planning for No Smoking Day March 2021 

One: Audience insight shaped every campaign: 

路       Understanding why people smoke and not demonising them was key. Kate and her team would not only run focus groups, they would spend time in people鈥檚 homes to observe their behaviour.  Bridging the recall gap! 


路       Kate shares her story of watching parents taking a bit of me time downstairs and smoking thinking they were doing the right thing having one out of the window not understanding that the toxins stayed on the furnishings. 


路       This ethnographic approach completely shifted and developed the message from a health harms approach to a behavioural steps approach. 


路       The insight showed awareness of toxins on furnishings was low.


路       The call to action was to walk outside and close the door. A clear direct call to action.  


路       The campaign reduced smoking in  homes across the South-West from 22% to 13% 


路       And there was a cute teddy bear in the advert. 

Two: make the 鈥榬eward鈥  for the audience clear:

路       Habits are based on a reward, so if you want to influence someone to give something up (think loss aversion) then you need to highlight the rewards from the change. They also need to be bigger, more desirable than the reward they are giving up. 


路       Smoke Outside asked a smoker to walk outside in exchange they could be confident the toxins from their cigarettes were not harming their families. This is a big reward for a small change, it is tangible and immediate. 

Three: Invest time to find a great case study鈥  use the content to leverage channels and scale:

路       Kirsty was the case study for the whole South West region for the 鈥榰napologetically emotive鈥 campaign, Be There Tomorrow. She lived in Torbay and had a teenager daughter; she also had lung disease. Kirsty shared her story so others to inspire and motivate other smokers to reduce and quit.   


路       Kirsty鈥檚 story supported thousands of people across the South West. Invest in finding people who want to tell their stories. Good content has a long shelf life and attracts good PR.


路       Advice to focus closer to home means closer to your audience鈥檚 social norms. Local-placed based case studies do work, but a truly great story will cross geographical boundaries, meaning you can reach your audience and work with more stakeholders in a multitude of ways. Kirsty resonated in Reading as much as did in Torbay.



Kate and her team  sit within the NHS and so are uniquely positioned to support Local Authorities & NHS especially as we shift to Integrated Care Services to bring partners and voices together to&