An electronic petition calling for the creation of a worldwide social marketing organization is now available for signing at epetitions (or cut and paste - http://fusomar.epetitions.net/). After over a year of meetings at several conferences, informal discussions and surveys of the social marketing community, Bob Marshall drafted this petition with help from friends Jim Lindenberger, Mike Newton-Ward, Bill Smith and me. The current version was reviewed and endorsed by the Social Marketing Quarterly Editorial Board at their meeting earlier this month. It starts off:
We, the undersigned, agree that the moment has arrived for the development of a social marketing organization. We will support, in words and actions, the creation of a global social marketing organization by July 2010. To work towards this end, we share the following core principles.
• Social marketing starts from the personal perspectives of the people with whom we work.
• Social marketing is a well-established professional discipline with a strong academic and practical foundation.
• Social marketing is a systematic approach to large-scale behavior and social change.
• Social marketing is a “community of practice” that is open to all disciplines and types of practitioners and can be applied to a range of environmental, public health, and social issues.
• The development of a professional social marketing organization should be a widely participatory and transparent process.
• A social marketing organization should represent the views of practitioners, organizations, academics, researchers, donors, policy-makers and others who advocate for, practice, and support the use of social marketing applications to address social problems.
Yes it could be done more quickly, but perhaps in not as open and transparent a process as envisioned in the next section. And we do have in mind that the 20th anniversary of the Social Marketing in Pubic Health conference, the one constant meeting place for social marketers over the past two decades, will convene next June. And yes, there are other core principles that could be enumerated, but we have a year to formalize them in an association. The point is to get started from a place that few can quibble with. On with the work:
To move this process forward, we endorse these steps in the creation of the organization:
• Create an Ad Hoc Guidance Group of no more than 20 members with Craig Lefebvre serving as the voluntary chair. This Group will work during the next year to develop the necessary principles and provide counsel to the work groups (see below) that will develop the organizational structure of the proposed global social marketing organization.
• Establish a date for convening a “Congress” for the social marketing organization prior to the 2010 National Conference on Social Marketing in Public Health. This Congress will serve as the ratifying body for the organization’s name, mission, governance structure, business plan, bylaws, and select the first slate of officers for election.
• In next four months, the Guidance Group will oversee a process that solicits Delegate nominations from the social marketing community who will serve on work groups charged with developing the process and materials necessary for the Congress, including proposed names of the organization, mission statement(s), governance structure(s), bylaws, and whatever other requirements the groups decide are needed. In the event that more than 50 names are submitted, Delegates will be selected by an open vote of anyone who identifies themselves as part of the social marketing community. The work group members should represent the diversity of the social marketing community, particularly with respect to practitioners, organizations, academics, researchers, donors, disciplines and geographic locations.
• These volunteer Delegates will be charged with participating in the deliberations and authorizing further organizing activities for the Congress on behalf of the social marketing community. We suggest that work groups be created from this group of delegates to achieve the following objectives:
o Discuss and propose the goals, scope, structure, business model and operations of the association;
o Draft a charter, mechanism to elect officers and other elements of the organization (by-laws);
o Offer a guide for the emerging organization through all stages of development;
o Establish workgroups for achieving other objectives (for example, education resources, staffing, practice standards, credentialing, communications, and advocacy);
o Establish steps, stages, and timelines for further organizational development; and
o Provide timely and regular communications with the larger social marketing community through electronic channels and social marketing publications during this process and be prepared to present their completed work at the Congress for open discussion and voting among all attendees.
• All work group and Guidance Group members are encouraged to attend the Congress to ratify the work of these groups. We envision that the outcomes of this Congress will then be presented for discussion and affirmation to a larger group of the social marketing community attending the social marketing conference in Clearwater Beach, FL in June 2010. Officers should be elected at this time and the organization formally announced to colleagues, stakeholders and professional communities.
What the petition advocates for is a small group of guides and mentors to set into motion an open process that solicits nominations and oversees the election of delegates from this pool of delegates. Our intention is that these delegates should represent the diversity of social marketing across settings, geography, topic area and experience. It will be up to you to decide how this vision is realized. Now is the time to think about who You want to represent YOUR interests and perspective. Most of their work will be done digitally, and we see a Congress as a time for them to all come together to collectively finalize their work and present it to the broader community for ratification. How these delegates go about doing their work is up to them, but we intend for it to be as transparent a process as possible.
We all recognize that there will be many challenges in the year ahead to realize our hopes for a strong, diverse, and active social marketing community under one banner. We hope you will join us over the next year with whatever resources, skills and talents you can offer to support the development of a social marketing organization that will strengthen, deepen and expand the scope of our work to improve the lives of people around the world. And we look forward to seeing many of you in June 2010 to participate in and witness the next milestone in the evolution of our field.
Our signatures affirm our support for and commitment to this endeavor.
It is personally exciting for me to see the movement take this big step. I know there is a lot of pent-up energy among many people to make this happen. Please help us get started by going to the site now and signing on.
And on an historic (and circular) note, Phil Kotler (pdf) was the first one to sign it.
Onward to June 2010!