Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich
I just learned from Dick Morris that political and social media pioneer Tony Schwartz died this weekend. While he is perhaps best known for a TV commercial that ran only once but changed the course of an election (the Daisy ad) and his media work for other political candidates, he is also owed a debt of gratitude for his influence on social marketing as well.

Among the more than 20,000 spots Tony recorded in his lifetime were the first anti-smoking commercials. A 1961 ad featuring children dressing up in their parents' clothing in front of a mirror ("Children learn by imitating their parents. Do you smoke cigarettes?") was credited by the American Cancer Society with driving the tobacco industry's ads off television and radio. He was an active anti-tobacco advocate and addressed many social issues as well.

I was lucky to have met Tony several times as a student at the Harvard School of Public Health. He co-taught a course on developing media communications that I took, and for which I later became the teaching assistant. Because he was agoraphobic, Tony did not often leave his home in New York City. He taught the class via teleconference, and we actually flew up to New York to meet with him a couple of times in his 56th Street apartment/studio (yes, it's nice to go to a school with resources like that!).

In his cramped studio surrounded by massive shelves of tapes and videos, we had the opportunity to learn from the master. At the end of the quarter we had our own PSA radio spots recorded by a professional announcer there.

From Tony, I learned the importance of tapping into emotions, using sound and images to strike a "responsive chord" with what people already knew and believed. And long before the Truth campaign came along, he was wielding the delicate scalpel (and sometimes blunt club) of shame to get people to do the right thing about everything from picking up after their dog to city budgetary issues.

His guerrilla media approach often utilized the tactic of "narrowcasting" to the extreme; he sometimes even had a target audience of one - for example, the chairman of Philip Morris or McDonalds, or the city councilman responsible for a particular crime-ridden neighborhood. In some cases, just the threat of Tony's well-known brand of shaming via media was enough to persuade an abrupt turnaround without the ad ever running.

Though I haven't thought about Tony Schwartz for quite a while, as I write this I am realizing how much I apply the things I learned from him in my everyday work. Thank you, Tony.

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For some reason, my blog has decided to stage a rebellion. It got used to slacking off and resented my putting up a new post. Until I figure out how to fix it, you can find all of the sidebar items usually found on the right side, sitting in a big pile on the bottom of the page, too lazy to lift themselves up to the top. A thousand pardons...

Photo Credit: Robert Brook
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The second National Conference on Health Communication, Media and Marketing, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is coming up in August. This year I'm on the planning committee, and it looks to be an even bigger and better affair this year than last. Early bird registration is open through June 13th. Here's all the details:

Image: National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media 2008. Engage and Deliver.

National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media 2008

The second National Conference on Health Communication, Media and Marketing sponsored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Marketing and the Office of Enterprise Communications will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 12 - 14, 2008, at the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta. The National Cancer Institute and the National Public Health Information Coalition are co-sponsors for this event.

Three half-day pre-conference workshops are offered, for an additional registration fee. I will be presenting a workshop on Social Media for Social Marketers. If you've missed my Next Generation Social Marketing Seminar, it will be similar in scope and a bargain to boot. Other workshops include Crisis and Emergency Risk Communications, and Designing Health Literate Marketing Products and Services.

If your company or organization is interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring the conference, it's a great way to reach hundreds of health communicators and social marketers.

I'm also excited about the Ypulse National Mashup coming up in July on "Reaching Today's Totally Wired Generation with Technology." Anastasia Goodstein, who writes the Ypulse blog, has created an empire around youth-related information, and has put together an amazing event with the creme-de-la-creme of speakers who understand how youth use social media and technology. If you are trying to reach youth and you do not read Ypulse daily, you must start. Look at the agenda and list of speakers and you'll see that this is the definitive youth conference to attend (July 14-15 in San Francisco).

I will be moderating a panel that is part of the Building a Youth Movement preconference on "Using Social Media to Create a Social Movement." The panelists include Ginger Thomson, CEO of YouthNOISE; Liba Rubenstein, Manager of Public Affairs/Impact Channel for MySpace; and Tina Hoff, VP and Director of Entertainment Media Partnerships for The Kaiser Family Foundation. An amazing group of speakers! The preconference is being organized by Aria Finger, the CMO of Do Something, who was just interviewed on Ypulse.

Let me know if you'll be at either of these events. I hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Anastasia just let me know that if you enter the code 'NKW' when you register for the Ypulse Mashup, you can get a 10% discount off the standard rate!
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