The momentum for a global social marketing organization gained more traction and acceleration in 3 meetings at the recent Social Marketing in Public Health Conference. Soliciting (a) nominees for the Guidance Group and (b) funding to support the development activities of the next year are the main action items you can help us with.
Bob Marshall and Beth Sundstrom hosted a breakout session on the results of their survey of 408 social marketing list serve members and attendees at the 2008 USF Social Marketing in Public Health and CDC Health Communication, Marketing and Media conferences. Respondents self-identified as health communicators (31%), social marketers (28%) and health promotion professionals (20%). And in what was a surprise to many people at their presentation, nearly half (42%) said that their subject area were fields other than public health, including communications/advertising, environmental studies, economic development and various kinds of health services; good news for those of us who see bringing these areas together at the beginning of the process as essential for long term growth and success. Finally, 94% of the respondents said they were interested in joining a social marketing professional organization [would those of you haven’t yet then please sign the petition for forming the association].
Bob and Beth’s conclusions were:
- There is a strong interest in the establishment of a social marketing professional organization among respondents representing diverse fields of practice.
- Respondents prefer a “stand-alone”, regional or global organization, moderately focused on closely-related fields.
- Their preferred benefits for joining such an organization include: scientific exchange, networking, training, professional identity, advocacy and other resources, for which potential members are willing to pay an average of $150 per year.
- The profession of social marketing is ripe for organization, identity development and advocacy. This finding provides encouragement for seeking further discussion, strategy formulation and financial support towards this end as quickly as possible.
I presented an overview of the development process so far, as well as a timeline for the next year. Nothing new to update what is already at The Future of Social Marketing except some examples of the types of work groups that may be formed in the next few months: Governance Structure/By-laws; Operations Management; Representation/Membership; Brand and Identity/Mission; Business Plan/Financial; Congress Meeting Planning; Fund-raising; Incorporation/Legal; Outreach/Professional Relations; Marketing and Public Relations; Education and Training; Practice Standards/Credentialing; Social Network Platform; and Nominations.
An ‘Executive Session’ immediately followed this session to discuss primarily the need to create the social marketing objectives for HP2020 and what out next steps in organizational development need to be. The consensus of this group, primarily senior level people in the social marketing community at the conference, was that we need to draw up specific steps and timelines to keep the process moving ahead. I believe it was unanimous that the time is now for creating the organization and that it cannot be squandered. We did not adopt any formal guidelines for selecting people to serve on the Guidance Group - yet. Some people have indicated their interest to me already to be on the Group, and it was the sense of the people at the meeting that we should strive to have as broad a diversity of he social marketing represented as possible (my list includes geography, gender, role – practitioner, academic, donor, discipline, topic areas and length of experience in the field). It was also broadly recognized that some level of on-going paid staff support will be necessary to sustain this effort and keep all the wheels turning together (for example the various work groups that may need to be coordinated and supported in some ways over the next year). Fund-raising to have this basic infrastructure in place was noted as essential for our success in meeting the one year deadline for forming the organization with a broad level of participation from others in the social marketing community. A follow-up meeting of a smaller group to discuss and plan out these activities will be held in Washington, DC in mid-July.
On Saturday an open discussion session about the organization led to several great inputs. Among them are:
- Consider having a student affiliate section work group.
- Ask prospective members to prepay their first year of dues.
- Consider starting out with a smaller core of members and gradually expand membership over time (principally because the ‘demand’ for the association, as demonstrated by the number of people who are signing onto the petition, is not that high at this point – 268 at the time of writing this).
- Stop talking and get acting!
So we are now in the early Action phase and this is where if, how and when you and your colleagues decide to get involved will shape this process. While the opportunities for serving on the Guidance Group are, by design, limited, the opportunities to participate in work groups, financially support this development phase, sign the petition and spread the word about the organization through your professional networks are constrained only by your imagination and commitment.
Already, social marketers in Australia and New Zealand are planning their own social marketing regional affiliate organization to be launched next July. The leadership of the American Social Marketing Association (ASMA), a California-oriented social marketing member organization, has decided to join in. Susan Kirby wrote me: Our Board decided a month or so ago to fold our efforts into this new initiative and to provide any remaining funds in our bank account to the new global social marketing organization... We
are excited about being able to offer these funds to the new
organization and to join hands in helping build the field of social
marketing around the world. We’re looking forward to participating in
the activities of the new organization and bringing the lessons learned
from California’s many well –funded efforts to others, too. A representative from the Caucasus region has also been in touch to see how they may get involved. Mike Newton-Ward and other social marketers with a social media bent are looking into creating communication and open work space platforms for us to use over the next year. And my work continues to develop a social marketing network platform that may become a core component and benefit for people to come together, share their experiences and resources, and advance the field of social marketing as an effective and proven approach for social change agents around the world.