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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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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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. 


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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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"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 [email protected]