Monday, June 23, 2008

18th National Conference on Social Marketing

18th National Conference on Social Marketing in Public Health

About 400 conferees gathered in Clearwater, FL over the past week to share best practices on social marketing, with keynote addresses by Bill Novelli (AARP), Bill Smith (AED) and Gerard Hastings (Institute for Social Marketing, Stirling, Scotland), in addition to many other leaders in the field.

Several of us hosted a panel session on the idea of a strategic plan for social marketing in the US. The panel included Jeff French (National Social Marketing Centre, London), Jay Bernhardt (National Center on Health Marketing, CDC), Mike Rothschild (Univ of WI, School of Business) and Carol Bryant (USF, College of Public Health). The panel explored ideas about the need for a strategy, science policy and funding for social marketing, a professional organization for social marketing, and competency-based training. In an hour-long panel, there was only time to scratch the surface, but many good ideas emerged.

The following day we held an informal breakfast session, with Mike Rothschild and Jay Bernhardt, on the idea of a professional association for social marketing and explored ideas such as:
the conceptual base: marketing, communication, health education, other
the fields of practice involved: public health, environment, social welfare, other
the geographic scope: US, North America, worldwide
What do social marketers want out of a professional association?
What is the exchange: what are they willing to give in return?

We didn’t make any decisions, but the conversation, again, brought forth some new ideas as well as information about past attempts at a professional organization. One suggestion was to establish a steering committee to keep the effort moving forward, and several participants signed up as being interested. There were questions about what other kinds of similar organizations are out there, should we seek an independent organization or tie in with the infrastructure of an existing organization, where can we get funding support, how can we advocate more successfully for social marketing, and several others. Most seemed to agree that this is a long-term project, not something that can be accomplished in a short period of time. Clearly, this effort needs a focal point and the organizational capacity to sustain the momentum.
In the meantime, we encourage those interested to participate in this blog, on the social marketing listserv at Georgetown and stay tuned for other information and activities.

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