Katie Fleming champions the cause of the local campaign in tough times for public sector communications departments.In times of austerity when everyone in the public sector is being encouraged to look at services differently and think about how they could deliver a better service for less, communications comes under the squeeze and localised campaigns can be the first thing to go.'However, forward thinking organisations are starting to see that public education campaigns tailored for their own specific regional issues and services are not just value for money, but a vital tool to help achieve strategic objectives.Communications is being seen by the brave as more than just a corporate reputation management tool but as a valid intervention to help influence the way people use services. In the NHS for 'example' behaviour change communications can be seen as an important intervention to help resolve fundamental issues around capacity and patient pathways, as the local NHS strives to increase service efficiency.A good example is the issue of spiralling A&E attendances for inappropriate purposes. This is one we worked closely with one of our clients to help resolve, using communications as a strategic tool in trying to improve efficiency across the emergency and urgent care economy.Of course this is a 'well recognised' problem, and national campaigns like 'Choose Well' and other similar predecessors have tried to direct people into more appropriate services when their symptoms are not serious enough for A&E. 'However' individual departments continue to struggle with pressure on their emergency departments. This is because in many cases there is just too much information. National campaigns are a catch all, aiming to highlight too many services, and by the time a patient needs to access one of the services, they are confused and not really sure what to do, so they turn to their local A&E again.In order to encourage patients into more appropriate treatment settings campaigns must be much less cluttered and more directive. By running local campaigns which focus clearly on one message and target the groups who are actually using the wrong service, or making poor choices in that particular area, we equip people with the information they need to be able to make the right decision at the right time.Working with local patients or residents to understand why they use the wrong services or make the choices they do, and examining the data to fully understand the local picture can lead to much more effective targeting than a national campaign ever could. It allows the message to be tailored to fit both your target group but also for the call to action to be very clear and sign post much more effectively. Just because a problem is repeated across the country does not mean that it is a national problem with a one size fits all solution. Communities are different and the services on offer are different in different regions and if communications are to be used successfully to influence behaviour this must be acknowledged and embraced.