By Ricardo D. LaGrange, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Unlike any other U.S. presidential election season that I can recall in my lifetime, the stakes appear particularly high this time around.  I’ve been consumed by the campaign coverage and can’t seem to look away, even as that car-wreck feeling starts to settle in the pit of my stomach.  One of the few things that pundits from both sides of the aisle can agree on is that voter turnout will play a major role in deciding the next President and the shape of Congress. Using my behavioral change instincts, I began wondering about voter risk behavior choices in politics.  Is there a social marketing precedent that relates to our political preferences and voting behavior?

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By Okechukwu Umelo

There are problems, and then there are wicked problems – and then there are super wicked problems. Many researchers and academics will say that climate change falls in the latter category.

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By Okechukwu Umelo

In the age of hashtags and viral videos, can social media be a powerful tool for social marketing? As a digital communications specialist I’m keen on finding examples and best practices.

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By Ricardo D. LaGrange, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Unlike any other U.S. presidential election season that I can recall in my lifetime, the stakes appear particularly high this time around.  I’ve been consumed by the campaign coverage and can’t seem to look away, even as that car-wreck feeling starts to settle in the pit of my stomach.  One of the few things that pundits from both sides of the aisle can agree on is that voter turnout will play a major role in deciding the next President and the shape of Congress.  Using my behavioral change instincts, I began wondering about voter risk behavior choices in politics.  Is there a social marketing precedent that relates to our political preferences and voting behavior?

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By Okechukwu Umelo*

Hi! I recently joined iSMA as a volunteer, encouraged by my growing interest in social marketing. I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to support the organization’s work with my knowledge, skills and experience.

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An interview with Prof. Jeff French

Following the September 15th announcement from the White House of an Executive Order to incorporate “behavioral science insights” into governmental public health program work, the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) would like to offer our newsletter and web as a platform for continued discussion on what this Order can mean for Social Marketers, to think through together how to highlight the Social Marketing potential of the Order and move the language into practice, how to begin incorporating Social Marketing frameworks and Behavioral Science where applicable into program work, and in short, outline the many ways that this EO provides an opportunity for Social Marketing practice to expand in the United States.

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ISMA has increasingly offered new resources and touch points for both members and nonmembers in recent months. We’ve seen growth in new and wonderful ways. So we’re reshaping our communications efforts to focus even more deeply on cultivating a valuable membership experience. As a result, our all-volunteer staff is developing new resources, member newsletters, and social media posts. I’ve enjoyed blogging for iSMA in recent years, and it has been a wonderful vehicle to reach out to some people in the trenches of social marketing and learn from some of the field’s leading experts. While the blog has been a useful tool to attract web traffic, we've decided it’s time now to emphasize growing and serving the membership through the newsletter and other direct channels of support. Additionally, I've begun working directly with Trial Members via the membership team. It’s an exciting new phase that brings this blog to its natural conclusion.

Be sure to check out our News Desk, Facebook posts, and tweets! You can connect with the field in a variety of new ways thanks to iSMA. And, if you’ve liked learning and growing with us, please join now. Help us accelerate the pace of positive change in the world.

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In his book, Fostering Sustainable Change, Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr has written that humans live “in a finite world” which will eventually force us to adopt sustainable practices. The book's narrative cautions, “While we have no choice regarding whether we eventually adopt these practices, the speed with which they are adopted will determine the grace with which we make this transition.” So, how do we accelerate our efforts to adapt?

Doug McKenzie-MohrIn a recent interview, Doug indicated that, “We have failed to articulate a vision for sustainable and healthy communities.” He said we need greater feedback on how and whether we are meeting our goals. Doug highlighted the importance of a collective vision, noting that Robert Olson has indicated that there have been no broad-based, large-scale social changes that have not been preceded by an overarching vision of where we’d like to go and how that imagined future is preferable to the present. He suggested that we need to tie this vision to the specific behavioral changes that are required to advance this shared vision.

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RamsQuote

Among other duties, social marketers help identify and share solutions to life’s great challenges. We research what works, disseminate the findings, and put new plans into action. But are we sharing solutions in ways that really resonate? How do we measure our own progress?

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Social marketers are set apart by their quest for evidence-based approaches. We want to know that our time and energy working for social change makes a difference. We channel the desire to “do something” through a knowledge base that requires us to “do something that works”.  That’s why it was so exciting to see “Social Marketing: Systematic Review of Research 1998-2012” published in the March 2014, 20th anniversary edition of Social Marketing Quarterly.

beakers

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Looking for a relatively inexpensive and easy way to more deeply influence behavior for the public good? Watch this 11-minute video from Nancy Lee’s TEDxMontlakeCut Talk. It features a Wisconsin drunk driving initiative that yielded a 17% reduction in crashes, with taxpayer cost reduced from $56,000 per accident to $15,000 per accident.

How did these social marketers choose what behaviors to address? Nancy shared two questions from social marketer Mike Rothschild about how this work was done. First, he asked people “Why?” the target audience engaged in drunk driving. Then he asked, “How can we help you?”  It’s amazing how asking these two questions helped unearth barriers to behavior and helped generate an impressive return on investment for taxpayers, saving lives as a result. 

Nicholas Kristof — journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes — knows how to tell a story. Yet even he has struggled to strike a chord with readers on tough social issues. So, he turned to the field of social psychology (Sound familiar, social marketers?) and the research of Paul Slovic, Ph.D. to move readers. 

refugee

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Tweets, posts, petitions … where is an organization or activist to begin? Mike Kujawski, partner and senior consultant of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing, says, “If you are feeling overwhelmed, realize that no one these days knows everything.” He stresses, “We all feel overwhelmed. It is a mindset shift. It is no longer possible to be expected to know everything.”

Mobiles in Jakarta © 2013 Sarah V. Harlan/JHU CCP, Courtesy of Photoshare

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2013 was a banner year for social change marketing internationally. We connected through the World Social Marketing Conferences, the ISMA, and social media in new and more collaborative ways than ever before. These connections elevate the standards for social marketing that WORKS. Operating from standard definitions, training based on specific protocols, and rigorous program evaluation help our field advance, ultimately changing more lives for the better.

Change I want to see

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The following post was written by guest blogger Avi Lambert, a social marketer from Canada.

The broad adoption of the consensus definition of social marketing is certainly something to smile about. It also got me thinking that it’s a great jumping off point for a post on the topic of semantic web thinking for social marketers.

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Last night a comedy show portrayed a woman in labor, screaming and pushing to humorous effect. Watching this, my daughter's eyes grew wide and she said, "I'm scared to grow up and do that." My initial thought was to reassure her that, "There is nothing to worry about." And while I did work to reassure her in a practical and balanced way, it triggered additional thoughts. The pain of labor is certainly a concern, but more serious worries stem from the potential complications of childbirth. And, unfortunately, where we are born, the information we have, and the care we receive all greatly influence the health and chance of survival for mothers and babies. 

Mother Baby Tanzania (c) Photoshare

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Oh, the social marketing newswires are crackling with excitement! I love to see how people on the social marketing list serv are sharing teaching resources, debating terminology, and helping each other with project research and implementation. Plus, I just saw this post from Ogilvy about #Mammingwhich is an effort to help women embrace the awkwardness of mammograms... and get to the doctor's office to be screened. (Do watch the video.) 


Isn't it nice to see a campaign effort that goes beyond "awareness"?

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Here's an inspiring environmental case study from New Zealand, reviewed as the Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) case study: Clean, Check, Dry



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How do we define social marketing? Here is the new consensus definition, endorsed by the three largest associations of social marketing:

"Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Social Marketing practice is guided by ethical principles. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programmes that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable."

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"Behind the scenes" of the Change Notes blog, the all-volunteer ISMA Communications Committee has tapped the talents of members in Canada, Jamaica, Romania, Nigeria, and the U.S. We've been busy adding interactivity, streamlining content, and bringing in new voices. Now comes the fun part!

We began last week with a guest blog post from Adeniyi Adenjose, who has traced the roots of social marketing all the way to the 1700s. Let us know what you think. Contact the communications committee at commcomm@isma.memberclicks.net.