The science communication of whale watching – A marketing based people-focused science communication process and impact model

Author: Wiebke Finkler – University of Otago, New Zealand

High quality multimedia content and strategic planning processes lie at the heart of successful science communication. But what are the elements that make effective creative content and what are the strategic steps to implement a successful science communication initiative? The current paper focuses on the application of marketing communication to contribute towards more effective science communication, set in the context of uncontrolled explosive growth of the global whale watching industry and failure of widespread sustainable practices. The lack of sustainability in whale watching is, in part, due to poor uptake of science and ineffective public communication. The discipline, structure and focus on changing behaviour that characterize social marketing provide important lessons for making science communication in the whale watching setting more effective.

The paper presents the findings of an empirical video-based whale watching science communication study focusing on sustainable whale watching practices. It proposes a strategic marketing-based science communication format and process that can contribute towards the development of a visual rhetoric for science communication. The research demonstrates the effectiveness of well-developed science communication videos to influence people’s expectations regarding close encounters and influence responsible behavioural intentions. Marketing-based science communication videos present an educational management tool for the whale watching industry by advocating sustainable practices to stakeholders, increasing awareness about impacts and managing visitor’s expectations. Informed members of the public, as key whale watching stakeholders, form a significant potential compliance management opportunity that can contribute towards the sustainable development of the industry. More effective science communication focusing on communication and behavioural outcomes in the whale watching setting, and wider science communication research field, therefore, is a critical challenge.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication