Spare change from around the world of social marketing:
- This week's edition of The Drum Beat from the Communication Initiative (a rich source of information and commentary on communication for development) focuses on social marketing resources. It includes books, tools, case studies and websites from a mix of US and other countries, and I was honored that they also included a reference to my book and this blog.
- In the US our taxes were due last Tuesday. I was one of the people who waited until that evening to file my tax return electronically using Turbotax, which I've used for many years with no problem. I know, I should not have waited until the last minute to send it in but I was out of town and assumed I would just put the finishing touches on and zap it over before midnight. Turns out Turbotax's servers had a meltdown and many people who tried to file that day got a message to try again later. As the clock approached midnight across the various time zones, with people unable to get their returns into the system on time, panic erupted on the Turbotax message boards. With no helpful information from the company, many people ended up driving to the open post office across town before midnight or staying up all night trying to get it to go through. I was lucky and had my return accepted around 10:30 pm.
While the next day, the company said that the IRS had agreed to accept late Turbotax returns and that they would refund the filing fees of those affected, this is a perfect example of a product failing at the make-or-break time that people need it to work the most. There's no reason that they should not be able to anticipate the level of demand and have failsafe systems built in, and there were not even updates on the company's homepage with information for their irate customers. In this era of instant communications, you cannot keep your customers in the dark about something as important as this. On a related note, take a look at this graphic that visually illustrates how our taxes are used in the 2008 US budget.
- Researchers have found that adding alcohol to fruit increases its antioxidant capacity. Way back when, I considered extending my graduate program to stay on for a doctorate; the topic I planned to investigate was how to balance messages about the research emerging at the time about health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption with the negative potential effects of increasing alcohol use. The real world ended up winning out over academia, but this study would have fit right into my topic. Strawberry daiquiri, anyone?
- If you are interested in using social marketing in a university setting, Jim Grizzell at Cal Poly Pomona has started the Social Marketing in Higher Education Listserv. Its purpose is "to allow engagement and participation in discussion of the application of evidence- and practice-based social marketing to bring about positive health and social change and enhanced learning on campuses."
- AP has a story on how the CDC is working with Hollywood writers on shows like 24 to ensure that health issues are portrayed accurately. Many other organizations serve as this type of resource for the entertainment industry as well. Stan Glantz of UCSF is critical of this approach in the article, saying that they would be more effective in pushing for policy changes by the industry such as an R rating for smoking, rather than working within the system. I disagree, and think that the confrontational approach would backfire and cut off access to writers and producers, who have no imperative to work with these organizations beyond their own desire to do good. Wagging our fingers in their faces only closes doors -- not beneficial for us or them.
- Does anyone else find it ironic that anarchists in Quebec are organizing themselves around an anti-get-out-the-vote marketing campaign?
- Via OPC Today, Hindu priests are now blessing children with drops of polio vaccine instead of the traditional holy water usually offered in Hindu temples. The local health agency has trained hundreds of priests to administer the vaccine."I was very surprised when the priest put polio drops into the mouths of several children, including my son, as god's blessings," said Sunita Devi of Bihar. "But we trust the priest as he can do us no harm." What a clever partnership.
- Next Monday, April 30, I will be moderating a panel at the Healthcare Blogging Summit in Las Vegas. The session is on using new media to market or motivate behavior change, and the three panelists will have a lot to say, judging from our conference call this week. They are Fabio Gratton of Ignite Health, Debbie Donovan of Conceptus and Adam Pellegrini, Strategic Director Online of the American Cancer Society. I'm looking forward to this panel and the rest of the sessions at the Summit, and hope you will be able to join us there.
- My blog has been nominated for the Blogger's Choice Awards, though I'm not sure whether this is a similar honor to being in Who's Who or being a semifinalist in one of those national poetry contests. Every marketing blog in the universe seems to be nominated, and for some reason mine was also included in the best blog design and best blog host categories, so I'm a little suspicious. But if you feel like voting for Spare Change, it will make me feel validated as a sentient being. :-)
Photo Credit: o2ma