Reflecting on and planning Social Marketing in 2019 

Patrick Cook, President iSMA


Many people find the turn of the year is a time of reflection and planning. We at the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) are no different—reflecting on the work of the past year while planning for 2019. Here’s a brief look back, and glance forward as we continue to pursue our vision: “envisioning a world in which social marketing is a widely valued and utilized approach to improving individual and social well-being.”

Over the past year, as we have worked to implement the direction provided to us by the different social marketing associations that came together at the World Social Marketing Conference in May, 2017, the Board of iSMA has:

  • Developed and agreed to a new constitution to govern our new relationship with each other as a “federation of equals” 
  • Finalized a business plan to focus our efforts over the next three years. 
  • Held our annual general meeting in March of 2018 and elected four new Board members and, in turn, expanded our Executive Committee with a new Treasurer and Vice President.
  • Supported our colleagues in both Africa and Latin America have laid the foundations for two new member associations, the Africa Social Marketing Association and the Latin American Social Marketing Association respectively. 
  • Played a key role in the Global Alliance for Social and Behaviour Change: Building Informed and Engaged Societies, a UNICEF-led initiative working to embed behavior and social change into all the programs funded by UN organizations and other bi- and multilateral funders being guided by the Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Doug Evans of George Washington University and Dr. Jeff French, CEO of Strategic Social Marketing have been instrumental in ensuring that social marketing is well-represented in the evidence working group, and I have been helping with the infrastructure work group. 
  • Hosted 6 webinars, exploring topics from Integrating diversity and cultural competence in social Marketing to helping consumers make decisions about what to flush and what not to flush. 
  • Worked to secure new and improved member benefits with important resources for our community, including the Social Marketing Quarterly and the World Social Marketing Conference. 

Looking forward, we have much to do. For each step, we look for your input and suggestions. Here’s a preview of what’s coming up: 

  • A new website and database for iSMA, moving our old website to a more versatile, responsive design powered by a consolidated and streamlined database that will improve the experience for existing and prospective members to join our community of social marketing professionals.
  • Our 2019 annual general meeting coming up in March 2019 and elections for up to five new board members (so start thinking about how you can shape the future of social marketing) 
  • More webinars every two months from our colleagues around the world, led by our new webinar manager, Christene Jennings, who is taking over from our long-time webinar manager, Jay Kassirer. 
  • Co-sponsoring and hosting sessions during the World Social Marketing Conference in Edinburgh, UK, June 4 & 5. 
  • More resources and support for social marketers including a position paper on ethics in social marketing and a compilation of key references outlining social marketing evidence of effectiveness. 

And there is so much more. I hope you will take a moment to read the other articles in this newsletter and the ones coming up in 2019 that describe the amazing work of our member association and colleagues doing social marketing around the world. And, at any time on any topic, I invite you to send us your thoughts and recommendations at [email protected].