iSMA News Desk

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Volunteer Spotlight_Braden Occomore

There are some interesting and dedicated volunteers working behind the scenes at the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) to promote the use of social marketing frameworks to address health challenges and other social issues around the globe.

Braden Occomore

Braden has been supporting iSMA for almost 2 years as a Website Content & Design Coordinator (Website Manager). He is a member of the iSMA Communications Team where he both manages content on the old website while building out the new website which is set to launch in the next few months. The new iSMA site will offer a fresh look and improved functionality for the iSMA member base to access a wealth of social marketing resources.

Braden, who hails from Burlington, Ontario in Canada has a command of Digital/IT with a global perspective. He now serves as a Business Process Expert for a global Hearing Aid Manufacturer and Retailer outside of Zurich, Switzerland and travels extensively for his business, Rotterdam being a frequent destination. His primary focus is in Marketing Automation and CRM Software (Customer Relationship Management).

Why Social Marketing for a Digital Expert? “I enjoy this field so much because it can bring about positive change that can have a lasting impact of people's lives and on society as a whole. Being able to drive behaviour change while also working with a group of extremely qualified and hard-working volunteers is fantastic. That's something that I want to be a part of.

Braden first learned about Social Marketing after taking a class at Griffith University, in Australia while working on a degree in Business Marketing. Prior to that, he had received an advanced diploma in Business Administration Marketing from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. In addition, Braden felt he gained much insight into the field by attending the European Social Marketing Conference in Antwerp, Belgium. 

What’s next for Braden? “My goal is to gain as much knowledge as I can about Social Marketing theory and practice and pursue a certification. In addition to continuing to contribute to iSMA in my current capacity, I'm also planning to offer Digital Marketing Consulting in my spare time. Having worked in Digital Marketing for 8 years, I'd like to help make social marketing more digital in order to appeal to a wider audience.”

Of his experience working with iSMA, Braden says, “iSMA is a fantastic association of like-minded professionals who care deeply about helping others. Our volunteers dedicate so much time and energy and are so passionate in everything that we do. I feel privileged to be able to volunteer for such a great team and am very excited for what iSMA has planned for their Members in 2019. I highly recommend you become a Member if you haven't already done so.

We feel very lucky to have Braden’s unique contribution of digital expertise, which helps to promote and broaden Social Marketing practice, not to mention the time that he contributes to the organizational work. Please join us in thanking, Braden!

Braden's LinkedIn Profile:

Last Updated on Monday, February 25, 2019 03:37 PM
Decreasing Dog and Koala interactions: An Australian social marketing pilot

The Australian Koala population levels are declining. Dog attacks are the third most common cause of death, after tree clearing and vehicle strikes. At the 2019 USF Social Marketing Conference, Sharyn Rundle Thiel presented on a social marketing approach to reducing the koala mortality as a result of dog attacks. iSMA is sharing an overview of the fascinating program, “Leave It.” 


Australian Koala population levels are declining. Dog attacks (predation) are the third most common cause of death, after tree clearing and vehicle strikes. The need for greater community engagement led to a trial of social marketing by Redland City Council.  In 2017-18 Social Marketing @ Griffith undertook research to understand what would engage dog owners in the community to protect koalas from dog attacks.  

What we did

Co-creating a community program

A comprehensive program of research including a systematic literature review, community surveys, expert interviews and co-design sessions (the 6 step technique is explained online at was undertaken.  This research sought to gain a deep insight into how dog owners could be reached and motivated to participate in a pilot program.  Three key themes emerged to inform subsequent program planning and design.  

Program Build

Specifically the program needed to 1) be dog, not koala, focused; 2) offer pet owner training and support; and three 3) focus on the benefit to all wildlife species, not just koalas. As one co-design session participant noted: “We’re not just looking to save koalas; we’re looking at protecting other wildlife as well.” 

The social marketing pilot program was called Leave It.  Leave It aimed to inspire dog owners to enroll and participate in a four-week training program (product) to improve dog behaviors, as well as dog owner skills. All communication materials were entirely dog, and not wildlife, focused (see Trainings emphasized a series of behaviors, including sit, stay and leave it (wildlife aversion).  Leave It trainers had previously received training from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPTD-KA) with experience in wildlife aversion training. The price for the training was $AUD150 for four sessions (price) run over a four-week period.  

Website Promoting the Leave It pilot program


Engaging community

Drawing on co-creation insights that indicated a desire for community events, Leave It was promoted via a community event called Dog Fest. Dog Fest offered a festival feel that included a variety of training demonstrations, displays and talks supported by displays and discount offers from pet retailers, food and drink retailers, and a series of fun competitions, e.g. best trick.  People registering on the day for the Leave It pilot program received a 20% discount. 

A Dog Fest Social Media Post



Data analysis indicated positive program outcomes.  For the dog owners who participated in the Leave It pilot program five of the 7 dog behaviors changed for the better: sit, stay, come back when called every time, wildlife aversion, and stay quiet on command. Dog Fest attracted over 1500 attendees, indicating a reach of nearly 10% of the 21,000 dog owners in the local council area. In a Dogfest visitor survey 90% reported a positive experience, and 91% reported they would attend Dogfest in 2019.

The pilot program was deemed a success and city wide roll out is now underway. 

 1. Australia Koala Foundation, “Interesting Facts”, accessed March 23, 2018, 

The Social Marketing Association of North America (SMANA) Holds Its Inaugural Social and Behavior Change Forum in Washington, DC

By Gerda Gallop-Goodman, SMANA member

The Social Marketing Association of North America (SMANA) held its inaugural Social and Behavior Change Forum on October 10, 2018 in partnership with the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) Conference at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The theme of the forum: Leveraging the Intersections: Bringing together social issues, perspectives, and change agents to unlock today’s challenges, explored the intersections of health and the environment.

More than 65 attendees from across different behavior change sectors participated in the half-day event that began with a keynote address by Shannon Kraus, executive vice president at HKS Architects, on the role of design thinking in making meaningful change in our communities, health and healthcare. Through compelling examples, he showed the association between our health and the environment— where we live impacts how we live—and how design solutions can help improve our health. A panel discussion on unlocking today’s challenges in the area of food, included presentations on nutrition education interventions in Maryland schools, sustainable diets and the Meatless Monday Project, and reducing food waste/food recovery.

Selected presenters from Hager Sharp, Vanguard, and Rescue provided case studies on these timely social marketing in public health topics: increasing the quality of health care providers’ HPV vaccination recommendations, helping patients survive stroke, and social marketing strategies for preventing and reducing opioid misuse. A session of short presentations or “lightning talks” covered a diverse range of social and behavior change topics on urban transportation, financial savings, global conservation, sustainability and auto repair shops, and consumption behaviors and culture. And to close out the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to discuss issues and ideas generated from the forum as part of topic-specific roundtables on the environment, research, and health. Following the forum, attendees were invited to attend a networking happy hour to continue the conversation and meet other social marketing colleagues.

“No one of us can do this alone,” said Sandra Paredes, SMANA President, in her closing remarks. “This is about mobilizing our entire community. We’re trying to make a better world. We need to break out of our silos. The more we hear from each of us, the more we’ll stay connected.”

Entercom, a media and entertainment company, was the Innovator Sponsor of the forum. Caryn Ginsberg of Priority Visuals created graphic recordings from the presentations.

Last Updated on Friday, December 07, 2018 02:14 PM
6th Annual SPARKS Conference: A Brief Summary
Written by Nancy Lee   

 SPARKS is an annual social marketing conference of almost 200 attendees, organized by the Pacific Northwest Social Marketing Association featuring over a dozen social marketing professionals from across the Pacific Northwest speaking (TED Talk style) about behavior change campaigns and insights related to environmental protection, community engagement, public health and advanced theory.

Here are some snapshots of the topics that will be addressed on the main day of this year’s conference:
  • Environmental Protection
  • o   Wildfires
  • o   Farm conservation
  • o   Altering our language to inspire environmental action
  • o   Going Solar through Peer-to-Peer Marketing
  • Community Engagement
  • o   The power of transcreation
  • o   The need to develop culturally elastic campaigns
  • o   Pro-active tools for opioid prevention
  • o   Effective engagement practices with diverse communities to promote methods of safer cleaning
  • o   Testing qualitative research methods
  • o   Expanding the ways that we think about change
  • Public Health
  • Advanced Theory in Behavior Change

This year, the conference will occur on Monday, December 10th from 9:00am to 4:00pm & an optional second day, Tuesday, December 11th from 9:30am to 4:00pm and will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The conference also includes an optional second day dedicated to expert-led (including Doug McKenzie-Mohr) in-depth workshops on intermediate and advanced social marketing practices and processes. This year, the day has two primary points of focus: 1) effective ways to spark behavior change depending on the levels of barriers and motivations your program is facing and, 2) evaluation strategies for social marketing practices. Learn more about Day Two here.

The goal of the SPARKS conference is to unite people who represent a wide range of professional fields and disciplines who are passionate about tackling the “Wicked Problems” that exist in their respective fields. Fundamentally, our hope is to provide you with a richer, more robust social marketing toolkit that you can carry into your own professional life.


We can’t wait to see you there!

Global Alliance for Social and Behavioral Change Creates Momentum for Building Informed and Engaged Societies

iSMA Inaugural Participant of the Alliance
By Patrick Cook, September 26, 2018

Washington, DC – Just over a year ago, 40 development and behavior change communication and marketing professionals from around the world gathered at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters in New York to develop a “global mechanism” for ensuring that behavior change professionals are at the table when planning, implementing, and evaluating development programs and initiatives. iSMA was there.

The ”mechanism” now has a name, a charter, and a whole lot of momentum as we head into a year of building and advocacy on behalf of the social and behavior change professions. Meet the Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change – Building Informed and Engaged Societies. As outlined on its temporary website, the Alliance also a vision, a mission, and some clear goals (not to mention a lot of hard work by some committed members):

Fully informed and engaged societies working to achieve equity and realize their rights.

Advance the scale, quality, impact and sustainability of communication for development, media
for development, social change and behavioral
change strategies.

(1) Expand policy influence of this perspective and experience; (2) Capture and communicates
the most compelling evidence; (3) Support the scale up of this work; (4) Improve the quality of
this work; and (5) Promote higher levels of funding support for this work.

The inaugural group of 20 different development organizations and agencies have pulled
together over the past year to focus on three main initiatives:

  1. Highlight the evidence and impact of social and behavior change approaches
  2. Develop compelling tools to “expand the policy influence” of these approaches on policymakers and program designers, especially those who have committed their agencies to the sustainable development goals of the UN.
  3. Put an infrastructure in place to support this work in the long term.

These three initiatives came together at the recent UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN’s annual gathering that came out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). At the Forum, the Alliance hosted an event and briefing for policymakers and program directors attending the Forum to ensure social and behavior change is on the their radars as they plan – and fund – more programs focused on bringing about lasting social change across a wide number of issues, from the environment and social justice to child and maternal health and education.

ISMA’s participation has been integral to getting the Alliance up and running. Through the efforts of iSMA member and chair of the World Social Marketing Conference, Jeff French, at last year’s conference in Washington, DC, the iSMA was invited to attend the organizing meeting of the Alliance. Social Shift’s Craig Lefebvre and I attended the meeting, chaired by Rafael Obregon, Chief of the Communication for Development Section at UNICEF New York. Since this meeting, George Washington University’s Doug Evans has been participating in the Evidence and Impact workgroup on behalf of iSMA, and I continue to be involved with the Infrastructure and Policy workgroups.

For more information about the initiative and next steps, please feel free to contact me at
[email protected]

Last Updated on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 05:09 PM
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