The conversation over the development of a professional network for people working in social marketing and health communication continued at the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media yesterday. Moderated by Jay Bernhardt from the National Center for Health Marketing at CDC, about 40 of us discussed four questions he posed.
Why build the network?
The benefits for creating a network (and no one at the meeting disagreed with the proposition that one should be created) included:
Access to resources
Education and training opportunities
Forum for scientific exchanges
Development of professional standards
Job postings and recruitment activities
Develop common training competencies
Advance a research agenda
Professional identity (and a lot of discussion here, and throughout the meeting, about people's confusion between what is health communication and what is social marketing)
Build relationships with other professions (marketing, economics, political science, psychology, commercial sector)
Create an ideagora
Who should join such a network?
After a short-lived attempt to begin to list disciplines (health communication, social marketing, media relations,health promotion), the suggestion was made and generally agreed to that an organizing principle should be that people self-identify into the network and that no specific disciplinary background should be a basis for inclusion. It sounded like most people also agreed that the network should be open to anyone interested in or practicing social marketing in any field (i.e., people working outside of public health).
What should the scope of the network be?
Here the choices focused on whether the network have a domestic (US) focus or be global in nature. The sense was that global was preferred to facilitate learning and resource exchanges across countries, cultures and contexts.
What should the structure of the network become?
The current existence of many informal networks (list serve, webinars, use of new media) is one model that could be expanded and supported. The sense of the group leaned more towards a formal organization, primarily as it was believed that this would facilitate the development of the discipline, standards of practice, a professional identity and establish a platform for advocacy. An alternative model, carving out a specific interest section in existing organizations (Public Relations Society of America, American Marketing Association), was also suggested by a few people.
There are pages on the social marketing wiki for you to engage in the conversation and contribute your thoughts about what an association could look like and become. A Facebook group for health communication, marketing and media has also just started. And at Ning a group will be posting their notes from the conference.