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Masterclass: Unlocking Behavioral Science for Public Affairs


Masterclass: Unlocking Behavioral Science for Public Affairs

November 14, 2023
10 a.m.− 1:15 p.m. ET

In our first Masterclass, you’ll learn how behavioral science tools can be used to build relationships, convert skeptics, develop trust, and construct narratives that appeal to the thinking styles and world views of individual stakeholders.

You’ll improve your ability to influence others, deal with controversies, and better understand why people believe — or don’t believe — disinformation. Led by legendary communications executive and author Christopher Graves, this three-hour program will open your eyes to more effective ways of addressing political and social challenges.

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In this Masterclass, you’ll learn:

  • Why conventional approaches to persuasion don’t seem to work anymore
  • Key principles of behavioral science and how to use them in policy, management and interpersonal communications
  • Consensus-building strategies based on understanding cognitive biases and reframing policy positions
  • How to construct narratives that anticipate the concerns of key audiences and match their thinking styles

Note: This Masterclass will include pre-reads circulated one week in advance of the program and will be recorded and available for 21 days following the live class.

10:00 a.m.

Part I. The “Real Why”

Learn the principles of behavioral science and why they matter for public affairs and communications leaders. Our instructor will explain how humans are wired through cognitive biases and tribal identities to form deeply held beliefs. He’ll also cover new research that helps us better understand our audiences and segment stakeholders by personality traits and world views.

11:15 a.m.

Part II. The “Hidden Who”

Using the knowledge you’ve gained from the opening session, you’ll explore ways to address polarization, distrust of politics, and opposition to public policy positions. In the process, you’ll learn how to decode stakeholders and reframe complex issues. We’ll explore:

  • How can public affairs professionals better communicate difficult subjects such as risk and safety, engagement in social issues, long-term threats and long-term benefits?
  • How do companies and associations make policymakers more comfortable with scientific developments like artificial intelligence, vaccines, medical devices and renewable forms of energy?
  • How can organizations effectively engage in change management without alienating employees?

12:00 p.m.


12:15 p.m.

Part III. Brain Behavior Story (Interactive Exercises)

In this final session, we’ll explore key strategies and outcomes when using brain science to develop more compelling storytelling for advocacy. You’ll find out how to effectively shape the narrative and build consensus across different industries and stakeholders. Based on the learnings of parts I and II, our instructor will conduct group exercises that give you the experience of resolving tough communications and advocacy challenges.

1:15 p.m.


Christopher GravesFounder
Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science

About the Instructor:

As founder of the Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science at Ogilvy Consulting, Chris works to boost the effectiveness of every client engagement through applying a deep understanding of human behavior. His work also decodes the thinking styles and world views of individuals at scale using personality trait science. He has been interviewed extensively in the news media and has written Harvard Business Review articles on topics including how to debunk vaccine myths, the art of changing someone’s mind, personality-based marketing, and how AI helps tailor messaging to specific audiences.

Previously, Chris served as global CEO and chair of Ogilvy Public Relations. In his first career as a journalist, he worked as a top news media executive at the Wall Street Journal and CNBC for more than 20 years. Chris has been honored with a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency and was named a “Top 25 Innovator” in the U.S. He has also served as a faculty member at the Public Affairs Institute.


Members: $799
Non-Members: $969

More Registration Info

Additional discounts may apply to this meeting. These discounts may include:

For multiple registrants: A discount will apply to the standard member/non-member rate for organizations that register two or more participants for the same meeting. The first registrant will pay full price, the second participant will receive a 10% discount and each additional registrant will receive a 15% discount. To register multiple participants, you may either register online or download the print and fax registration form.

Member discounts: Discounts for members are applied to all Public Affairs Council meetings.

Non-members: Join the Council today, and save by registering at the member rate and using the $200 new-member coupon you will receive. Contact our membership team for information about joining the Council.

Questions? Contact us at 202.787.5950.


Kristin Brackemyre
Senior Director, Public Affairs Practice
202-787-5969 | [email protected]