iSMA News Desk

Managed by Julie Hentz and Nathaly Aya

Have an article you would like to share? Contact [email protected]

Want to meet and collaborate with other social marketers from around the world?

... develop webinar promotion and planning skills?

... contribute to social marketing worldwide?

 iSMA needs a volunteer Webinar Coordinator

iSMA's social marketing webinars are one of its most valued offerings. We host webinars for the regional associations (Australian Association of Social Marketing, European Social Marketing Association, Latin American Social Marketing Association, Pacific Northwest Social Marketing Association, and Social Marketing Association of North America).

This volunteer position will help the iSMA Webinar Manager plan, manage and coordinate all webinars. Collaborate with other volunteers to help increase our webinar promotion to drive audience registration, including research to identify new promotional channels and email/social media marketing to help share the news. Support will largely be provided via email communication, however, our team participates in a one-hour monthly communications team virtual meeting to discuss ideas with our peers who are responsible for promoting all iSMA programs and initiatives.

If interested, the Webinar Coordinator can also contribute ideas for professional development and training initiatives for the international social marketing community.

This position is an ideal opportunity to develop webinar promotion and planning skills, meet and collaborate with other social marketers from around the world who are volunteering on the iSMA communications team, and volunteer your time with a fun, engaged and committed group of people who care about professional development for social marketers.

Specific requirements:

  • Willingness to learn and be a committed team player
  • Expected time commitment: 2-3 hours per week for one year (renewable by mutual agreement).

Application Deadline: Monday, August 12, 2019. Starts in September. 

If you are interested, please complete and submit the attached volunteer application form to Jay Kassirer or contact Jay ([email protected]) to discuss any questions you may have




Want to interact with social marketers from around the world?

... develop blogging experience?

... contribute to social marketing worldwide?

 iSMA needs a volunteer Social Marketing Blogger

We are seeking a volunteer to create short blogs once or twice a week on topics related to social marketing from around the globe. Much content would come from resources like: the iSMA newsletter, iSMA Social Media content, Regional Association conferences and activities, and social marketing campaigns from around the world. We are particularly interested in promoting the blogs to generate participation and discussion around topics and aspects of the social marketing process and the tools used.

This position is an ideal opportunity to network, develop blogging experience and contribute. The interaction with the broad community of experienced social marketers will be exciting and informative. The ability to prompt discussion and improve social marketing practice will be stimulating and challenging. Plus, the iSMA Comm Team is fun to work with. We are a devoted team of communicators with varying expertise who are dedicated to marketing social marketing and to improving practice and resource options for social marketing practitioners.

Specific requirements:

  • A passion for social marketing and blogging
  • Basic knowledge of social marketing practice
  • Expected time commitment: 1-2 hours per week for half a year.

Application Deadline: Monday, August 12, 2019. Starts in September. 

If you are interested, please complete and submit the attached volunteer application form to Jay Kassirer or contact Jay ([email protected]) to discuss any questions you may have. 



iSMA Volunteer Spotlight- Laura Wagstaff, Social Media Volunteer
July 2019

 Laura takes a vista break during her hike to the top of Machu Picchu in 2016. She spent a few months traveling around South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru) where she hiked, became more familiar with the various South American countries’ singular cultures, and honed her Spanish skills. All of this before embarking on the adventure that followed, her MPH degree.

The International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) values the time, energy, and vision of our many dedicated volunteers. Their work encourages the growth of our iSMA membership community and shapes an organization that provides valuable services and resources to members.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

This month, the spotlight is on Laura Wagstaff, who coordinates social media for iSMA, ensuring that our organization posts regularly, that the content is relevant about social marketing practice, and that it promotes the activities of all of our regional/local associations. Putting fresh and regular content in the social sphere is key to attracting and sustaining member interaction. It can be a demanding role and for that we are grateful for Laura’s knowledge base in and love for social marketing approaches to behavior change and social media.

Laura was inspired by National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously series, motivating her participation as a Research Assistant in evaluating individuals’ climate change risk perception and self-efficacy. This was part of her MPH work at the George Washington University.

Laura also worked as a Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Center for Global Health, where she supported a landscape analysis of NCI’s grant portfolio of cancer stigma projects and with the Tobacco Control Research Branch on a project focused on identifying risk perceptions among light and intermittent smokers.

Laura is a native of the San Francisco Bay area in California but currently resides in Washington, DC where she works as a Communication Specialist at Sapient Government Solutions and contributes communication expertise to NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Laura was first inspired by the social marketing approach to change during her MPH studies.  She observes that, “global communities are facing such pressing challenges – and not just health related – which heightens the importance of social change efforts. I’ve always appreciated that social marketing is inherently evidence- and theory-based, ensuring that resources are used as efficiently as possible in order to generate maximum benefit to target communities.”

She especially enjoys her iSMA volunteer work, identifying and sharing social marketing related posts and tweets. This position provides, “an opportunity to read the most relevant social marketing publications and hear perspectives from leaders in the field.”

And where is Laura headed? Based upon her career to date, she has especially enjoyed research projects, and particularly behavior change projects related to maternal health or non-communicable disease reduction. Certainly, her experience with preliminary research, data analysis (in SPSS), and manuscript writing and editing supports very exciting career prospects ahead and a personal impact on improved health.

But for now, we are grateful that Laura is part of our iSMA Communication Team.


Edinburgh, Scotland at the World Social Marketing Conference (WSMC)

The iSMA Board held a luncheon meeting June 4th , 2019. Many Board members were attending the WSMC which facilitated in-person attendance.

Business topics discussed were:

The Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change- iSMA has been invited to join the Global Alliance, with currently no cost to join. The Alliance funding through partner UNICEF may end in September 2019. iSMA Board members were in agreement of the perceived value of an iSMA /GASBC partnership considering the aligned global focus. The position of iSMA will be revisited once the financial and functional future of the Alliance is determined and definitive goals are articulated. A formal vote by the iSMA Board will be taken later in the year to establish iSMA position, once Alliance funding and mission are more defined.

The Membership Data Base- The consolidation of the universal membership database was discussed, i.e. not only iSMA members, but all of the regional association members who also enjoy access to iSMA membership benefits, as any progress on the compilation of that database has stalled. Fuse has kindly agreed to support the effort and has received three proposals. In order to keep momentum going on the project, iSMA will either work through Fuse and their proposal process or initiate a resolution through iSMA control. The membership database is crucial to the completion of the new website as well.

Quarterly Board Meetings re: Time Challenges for Members in Diverse Zones- Discussion about ways to improve Board meeting scheduling to include members from all time zones was held. It was decided to increase the frequency of meetings from the current quarterly, to six times annually, with two identical meetings for each, to include members across the time zones. Another secretary role should be added to reduce the demands on the current secretary imposed by the addition of meetings. 

The value of developing a detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) was put forth. The SOP would include governance procedures, e.g. coordinating webinars and invoicing regional association dues, etc.

The 2019 iSMA Survey- The Communication Team has developed a member survey, the first since 2013, to gather sentiment on a variety of ISMA procedures and resources from members. It was decided that the survey would be dispersed in September with access available for a month, and further, to reach out to the SMANA Conference attendees, thus benefiting from a larger pool of social marketers for feedback.

Revenue Generation for iSMA- Discussion was held about ways that iSMA can generate revenue other than membership dues. One option presented was to offer social marketing training courses taught by members and potentially offered through the webinar series. A committee within the board is compiling suggestions to be presented at the next board meeting.

The Annual General Meeting was held the evening of June 4th at the World Social Marketing Conference (WSMC) and included 10 attendees.

Bulleted Highlights:

  • The federated model that iSMA has adopted to unify the many regional and local associations was discussed. The Latin American Social Marketing Association (LAMSO) has recently “stood-up”. The Africa Social Marketing Association is close to becoming recognized, and the potential for an Asia-Pacific and a Middle Eastern Social Marketing Association may follow fast upon. All members can enjoy free access to Social Marketing Quarterly, full representation on the iSMA Board, and access to the iSMA website and quarterly webinars; future benefits are under consideration.
  • An overview of the 2018 iSMA Annual Report was presented.
  • The iSMA financial report was presented
  • The Board approved a proposal for the development of an online certificate course in social marketing, taught by Nancy Lee, with a percentage of the proceeds going to iSMA.
  • The iSMA Board is a working board. There are approximately four available positions for 2019 positions to be elected, with openings for the Membership Chair and Volunteer Chair to be filled, specifically. Members will be invited to view the nominations and vote for Board members on the website at (Nominations require a statement of interest, CV and a photo). The new Board will be announced late summer.
  • The iSMA webinars have switched to the Zoom platform. The June webinar was open to non-members as will the September webinar, to enable a sampling of a prime iSMA resource to promote membership in the Regional Associations/iSMA.


Last month 305 social marketers from around the world convened in Edinburgh for the 6th World Social Marketing Conference (WSMC19). The conference in Edinburgh boasted a record number of submissions to a World Social Marketing Conference, with 227 submissions of papers, posters, discussions and workshops, and 180 acceptances. The high quantity and quality of submissions signaled that it would be a valuable event for spreading best practice in the field of Social Marketing and Behaviour Change across a range of sectors and disciplines. The 125+ presentations offered many opportunities for learning about current trends, innovations and emerging research in a variety of areas of social marketing, and choosing which presentations to attend and which to miss out on was a difficult experience for many delegates. Any attempt at summarising all the interesting insights presented would be impossible, however so below are some of the key themes that emerged over the two-day event.

1. Audience is King
Audience focus is a defining feature of social marketing, and is one of the Social Marketing Benchmark Criteria (see global consensus on social marketing principles, concepts and techniques). Ann Don Bosco, Head of Strategy at Public Health England, presented a keynote titled ‘Innovations within public health marketing’ which largely focussed on audience insight and how they target their communications. Dulce Espelsoin of Rare also emphasised the importance of a citizen-centric approach with their work in Latin America. The variety of different cultures and languages means that care needs to be taken to ensure campaigns are tailored to the particular communities they are working in. To emphasize this point, Dulce brought with her a puppet, which was used in a campaign, and played a song, which changed the words of a traditional song which would be recognised by the community, to share a message about conservation. Nicci Motiang and Pauline Aylesbury of the Scottish Government also discussed their citizen centric approach to social marketing, which includes a platform for parents that answers all kinds of questions they might have in a variety of areas related to the health of their children. This has been designed as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for parents and also provides tips and resources they might find helpful.

2. Finding Unicorns
Pauline and Nicci also discussed the national animal of Scotland, talking about the importance of finding ‘unicorns’, or positive deviants. Positive deviants are people who have already achieved the outcome that you want, despite the majority in their socio-economic or psychographic segment not achieving that outcome. The idea is to learn more about these individuals to help develop a strategy for everyone else to achieve the outcome. This approach to behaviour change recognises that your target audience is also well placed to develop solutions.

3. Telling the right stories
Like previous conferences, there was a clear message that storytelling makes an emotional appeal, and is much more memorable and effective than facts alone. A number of presentations touched on storytelling, but it was Jeffrey Jordan from Rescue who broke this down clearly. He outlined that the job of a social marketer is to imagine a world where your target audience is already engaging in the desired behaviour and then showing them that world and how they fit into it. Traditional images for health messaging show healthy people having fun doing healthy things, and when someone sees that and thinks “that isn’t me” then they don’t engage with the attached message. The hardest people to reach for your campaign are the people who are unwilling to engage in the behaviours that you want to promote. We can draw these people in by telling a story that puts someone like them as the central character, and demonstrates their values. An effective story telling approach is about showing them how their existing values match the desired behaviour, how they can make this change, and what their world will look like when they make this change.

4. Being critical friends with corporations
Navigating the relationships between campaigns and corporations continues to be a concern for social marketers. This issue was addressed in the keynote presentation from Bill Novelli, founder of Porter Novelli and currently a professor at Georgetown University. Bill discussed the need to be a critical friend to corporations, and shared his experience of working with pharmaceutical companies as head of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). While working with them on increasing knowledge around risk factors such as diabetes, the AARP was also working against them on the price of prescription drugs in the US. Bill calls this method ‘Talk & Fight’, which is a useful strategy for a range of industries that don’t intend harm but may still have negative side effects from certain areas of their business, such as the food and energy industries. Bill explained that he wouldn’t go after pharmaceutical companies the way he went after tobacco companies, because ‘pharmaceutical companies save lives.

5. Social Marketing Growing Pains
The call for social marketing to be put into orbit was again launched by Nancy Lee. Institutionalisation has been achieved in some places, as evidenced in the keynotes by Alex Aiken Executive Director of Government Communication for the UK Government and Pauline Aylesbury and Nicci Motiang of the Scottish Government. However, there are still individuals such as Liz Foote on the Next Generation panel who had been doing this for years without knowing the term ‘social marketing’. This disconnect is unhelpful because if people don’t know the term then not only are we missing opportunities to add to the evidence base, but people may be replicating work, and wasting valuable resources. This could be a reason that the when attendees of the evidence panel, chaired by Jeff French, were asked whether they thought there is enough evidence for social marketing, 69% said ‘No’. Like any good growth strategy, quality needs to keep up with quantity and it is important that social marketing professionals feel that there is a strong evidence base if we intend the term to become a bit more mainstream. The Next Generation Panel ended with a strong call for Marketing Social Marketing, floating around ideas such as a children’s book, and calls for a centralised job board.

6. Social Marketing in Latin America
The concentration of social marketing, particularly of the conferences, in the ‘developed’ world was also mentioned at a few different points throughout the conference. With the newly launched Asociación Latinoamericana de Mercadeo Social (LAMSO), or Latin American Social Marketing Association, and amazing speakers including a keynote by Dulce Espelosin, Senior Manager of Training at Rare, Mexico; a plenary presentation by Erik Cateriano on the Next Generation Panel talking about his work in Northern Peru; and a panel discussion on critical social marketing where Nathaly Aya Pastrana highlighted the importance of including voices from the Global South; there was certainly a strong pitch to bring the next social marketing conference to that part of the world.

WSMC 2021: We want to hear from you!
If you are living or working in Latin America, or somewhere else that you think would be a great location for the next world event, please reach out! We would love to work with enthusiastic social marketers who are ready to help make this happen. You can email the organizers of the World Social Marketing Conference at [email protected] WSMC19 was a fantastic opportunity to get caught up with what is happening in behaviour change around the world. We hope to see you at the next one, wherever that may be!

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