We Can’t Afford to Lose the National Center for Health Marketing


When the new director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, took his position in early June, it was inevitable that he would make some changes — perhaps even some big changes. I believe I speak for many social marketers in saying we were very hopeful that health marketing (the CDC’s name for social marketing) would fare well in the new administration.

Unfortunately, I have just found out that the National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM) is slated to be eliminated. What this means exactly for the practice of health marketing within the CDC is unclear, but it bodes poorly for the field of social marketing overall.

On the heels of the NCHM’s highly successful Third National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media (NCHCMM), which just brought together one thousand professionals who are using these tools to address disparate health issues from across the spectrum of the CDC’s purview, this news raises a big question: What will be the future of the conference, which serves a different role in the US social marketing community from other professional events? This most recent conference, in mid-August, raised the profile of the CDC as an innovator and enabler of organizations and agencies across the country (and beyond) on the cutting edge of social marketing initiatives.

After the NCHM has made so much progress in advancing the field of social marketing and integrating these methods into public health practice, it would be a giant step backwards to lose this bastion of expertise and have its staff dispersed. We need only look at the UK’s National Social Marketing Centre to see the approach getting the prominence within government that it deserves as a tool that works for prevention. The US needs to be a leader in social marketing, and this will knock us from that position.

While the fledgling social marketing association is not quite in position to address this issue as a unified voice for our field, those of us who care about social marketing should individually make our opinions known to Dr. Frieden to ensure that social marketing will continue to play a prominent role in the work of the CDC. I believe this is best achieved through a focal point of expertise like the NCHM that can implement best practices throughout the agency and host events like the NCHCMM conference. Barring that, I hope that Dr. Frieden somehow comes up with an even better alternative.

What are your ideas for how we can best address this issue as a field?

The Path to Health Marketing Collaboration

When’s the last time someone wrote a superhero comic about people in your profession? Sure, if you’re a reporter, nuclear scientist or even a reclusive millionaire, you’re used to this type of thing. But we health marketing types are usually the ones on the development side of the media, not the target audience. So I’m sure you’ll be as excited as I was to discover that my longtime blog friend Fard Johnmar of Envision Solutions and the HealthCareVox blog has created both a fun set of different types of media to draw people like us in, and a more serious project that underlies it.

His mission is to bring together people who work in health marketing communications across disciplines so we can learn from each other. He calls this the Path of the Blue Eye — a rather zen-sounding name with accompanying mantras that help us do our jobs more effectively.

Fard graciously agreed to share more information about the origins of the project and its different components with my readers via an email interview:

What spurred you to create the Path of the Blue Eye?

I was motivated to develop the Path of the Blue Eye project in response to two statements, both of which begin with the words “I wish.” They are:

  • I wish I knew that.
  • I wish we had a place to collect this information.

Over the years, I’ve learned about beneficial data, case studies and other info that would be useful to people across the health marketing communications industry. I often share my knowledge in conversations with pharma marketers, public health experts, social marketers and others. Many times, I find that people are not aware of interesting and successful campaigns taking place in industry segments they do not work in. For example, people in pharmaceutical marketing are sometimes not knowledgeable about campaigns launched by government agencies that leverage social technologies. After our conversations, people will sometimes nod their heads and say: “I wish I knew that.”

In addition, I have had many conversations about how we need a place where people can quickly and easily share information with their peers – especially with those working in other parts of the health marketing communications industry. They say: “I wish I we had a place to collect this information.”

The Path of the Blue Eye project is designed to grant each of these wishes by:

  • Fostering knowledge sharing across health marketing communications industry segments and silos.
  • Providing people with tools they can use to quickly share interesting information with others working in the industry from around the world.

The key word here is interdisciplinary. We are trying to reach across silos and centers of practice rather than working within them.

How does this project fit in with the work you have been doing with Envision Solutions?

The mission of Envision Solutions is to help health marketing communications pros become more efficient and successful. I think the Path of the Blue Eye project helps us to achieve this objective.

Can you tell us about the different components of this project and how they fit together? How will you phase them in?

The core of the project will be an online collaboration hub we are currently building. It will enable people in health marketing communications to:

  • Quickly access and share data, case studies, news articles, blog posts and other content relevant to the field.
  • Ask and answer questions from their peers.

Currently we are the pre-launch phase of the project. We are leveraging the comic, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and other communications channels to spread the word about the project and attract a diverse group of people who believe in what we are trying to accomplish. I am happy to say that (as of this writing), nearly 80 people have “joined” the project via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. We launched Path of the Blue Eye about a week ago, so I’m very pleased with the progress thus far.

In phase II, we will invite a select group of people to help us conduct a series of road tests on the collaboration hub to help us iron out any final kinks in the system. After this, we’ll launch the hub and begin our work in earnest.

I’m also very excited that we’ve been able to develop some strong partnerships with prominent organizations and businesses over the last few months. They have agreed to help strengthen the hub by providing information to the Path of the Blue Eye community when it launches.

How would you define the “Path of the Blue Eye?”

The Path of the Blue Eye is represented in the comic by a series of six mantras. These represent habits and activities we believe will help people forging careers in the health marketing communications industry achieve success.

Who are the main groups you’d like to reach and what are some of the ways people can become involved with this project?

We are trying to reach a diverse range of people working in all areas of the global health marketing communications industry. Everyone is welcome, including social marketers, public relations professionals, advertisers, pharmaceutical/biotech marketers, public health communicators, academics and others.

Given the current intense interest in social media it is important to note that the site wlll not be focused solely on social communications channels and techniques. Rather, we want people practicing in all areas of the field to feel comfortable participating in and contributing to the hub.

Currently, people can participate in the project by:

  • Showing their support for the project by joining our Facebook group, Twitter community or signing up for our e-mail list.
  • Spreading the word about the project to their friends and colleagues.
  • Considering becoming contributing or guest authors on the project’s blog Walking the Path. We are looking to build a blog that features a diverse range of perspectives from people around the world. A few people have accepted our invitation to participate, but we are always looking for more authors. Currently, guest authors are helping to produce a series of blog posts focusing on what collaboration means to them.

Once the hub launches, people will have other ways they can contribute to the project.

I love the comic book! I’m sure it’s the first time that health marketers have been featured as superheroes. What was your thinking behind using this medium? Can we expect to see this as an ongoing series?

I’m really glad you like the comic! I decided to commission the comic because I wanted to:

o Create a mythology focusing on the work of health marketing communications pros. We are often behind the scenes, creating campaigns for others, so I wanted to celebrate what we do.
o Attract a broad range of people to the project.
o Encourage us to have fun and enjoy the work we do each day

I also want to use the comic to expose more people in our industry to transmedia storytelling techniques. There’s a lot more going on with the comic than meets the eye, so I encourage people to dive deeper by participating in the SMS component of the project. Not many people have accepted our invitation yet, but I hope this changes in the coming weeks. I also hope people enjoy the comic’s soundtrack.

I hope we’ll be able to produce future issues of the comic. If people want more we’ll continue the story.

How would you like to see the Path of the Blue Eye evolve over time? What would it ideally look like five years from now?

Ultimately, I’d like to see the project evolve into a strong, self-sustaining, diverse, interconnected global community of health marketing communications pros.

Five years from now, I hope that the community will have become a go-to resource for people trying to improve their skills and develop better health marketing communications campaigns. We want to help people become better at what they do. If we achieve this, I think the project will be successful.

***
I wish Fard great success with this project, and I am excited about being part of it as well. I hope you will also consider participating in some way, as the whole profession will benefit as more people get involved. We can all walk the path together, which makes getting over the hills much easier.

Upcoming: Social Marketing University Advanced Course and Webinars

It’s that time again – time to announce the next session of Social Marketing University! Many of you know that I have been offering SMU trainings since 2006 as a 2-1/2 day introduction to using social marketing to promote health and social issues.

This year, taking into account many people’s requests for the next level of social marketing training beyond the basics, I will be offering the Social Marketing University Advanced Course. This 2-day training is for people who are already familiar with the fundamentals of social marketing who are looking for new ideas and insights, including those who have taken previous SMU trainings in what I am now calling the Foundations Course.

The Advanced Course will be offered on September 14-15, 2009 in Berkeley, CA. We’ll focus on topics like audience segmentation techniques, real-world research and evaluation, effective approaches to behavior change and will spend a full day on using online social media strategically. For more information, pricing and registration, see the SMU information page.

Don’t be disappointed if you can’t make it to Berkeley this time, or if you would like social marketing training but are not quite ready for the Advanced Course. I will also be offering a series of four webinars on social marketing fundamentals through Social Marketing University Online during the summer. You can attend this series to prepare for the Advanced Course, or just to bone up on individual social marketing topics of interest to you.

These 60-minute webinars will happen every other Wednesday at 12 noon PDT in the months leading up to the Advanced Course. The schedule is as follows:

  • July 22, 2009 – Change for Good: Using Social Marketing to Make a Difference
  • August 5, 2009 – Building An Effective Social Marketing Strategy
  • August 19, 2009 – Creating Social Marketing Messages That Work
  • September 2, 2009 – Social Media for Social Marketers

Take a look at the SMU Online information page for detailed descriptions of the webinars and pricing (4 for the price of 3!).

I’m also happy to offer a 10% special discount off the Advanced Course for my blog readers (enter discount code “BLOG”), and I hope you will join me at one or more of these events!

Keep up with the latest on SMU by joining the Facebook Fan Page or following the @SocialMktgU Twitter account.

Communicating the Flu

The tiny H1N1 virus pictured above (the influenza formerly known as “Swine”)* has brought me back to this blog after a long hiatus. As those of you who have read this blog for a while know, I have written quite a bit about pandemic preparedness from a social marketing perspective both here at Spare Change and as an invited blogger on the HHS Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog in 2007.

At that time, a pandemic seemed like a far-off risk, though we knew it was more a question of ‘when’ than ‘if.’ Since then, HHS and CDC have been working hard to increase preparedness at the national, state and local levels. From the rapid and effective response we’ve seen so far, it appears that they have done good work in that arena. Health departments and school districts in the US, and especially in Mexico City, have been quick to identify cases, isolate them and implement social distancing measures to keep people away from each other.

But I’d hoped we would have been further along prior to a pandemic in the areas of public awareness and preparedness. I’m currently involved in the social media piece of a CDC contract that is building grassroots coalitions to increase pandemic preparedness at the community level. As you can imagine, this project has been refocused to be H1N1-specific, and the timeline has been greatly accelerated. Our biggest concern, up until a week or so ago, was ‘how do we get people to understand what a pandemic is and why they should care?’ Suddenly, awareness is no longer an issue. But that also means that we are dealing with many other challenges that did not previously exist.

I believe that the CDC and WHO have done an excellent job of getting information out about the virus, its victims and how to prevent the spread of the flu. They are providing straightforward facts without hype and avoiding alarmism in their communications. The social media team has been especially innovative in providing online tools and maintaining an active presence on various online social media sites.

Unfortunately the 24-hour news machine, which by its nature needs to be constantly fed with new information, different angles on the same story, and attention-grabbing visuals, sank its teeth into the pandemic story and ran with it. Constant stories about new victims, pictures of people wearing masks, and ridiculous overreactions like that of Egypt, which slaughtered all of the country’s 300,000 pigs, overwhelmed the public. Even Vice President Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth and said that he advised his family to stay off airplanes and subways, going far beyond any recommendations given by the government and adding to the sense of panic (he later backtracked).

A backlash has been building against the perceived hysteria, which has created its own new problems. People with the sniffles are flooding emergency rooms and demanding to be screened for H1N1. Tamiflu and Purell are flying off the shelves. People are wearing masks when going out in public, even though the masks are designed more for preventing a sick person from spreading their illness rather than protection from the other direction. The result is that many people are afraid and are growing weary of having their guard up with no perceived benefit.

Luckily, it appears that for now, this H1N1 virus may not be the Big One. It’s too early to know whether it will mutate and come back in a more virulent form, as the 1918 influenza virus did. And it’s impossible to know what might have happened with it had precautions not been imposed from the very beginning. Greg Dworkin of the Flu Wiki does an excellent job of explaining how seemingly drastic measures at the beginning of a pandemic can make all the difference in the outcomes. But prevention gets no respect. It’s really hard to get excited about something that didn’t happen. Many people don’t understand that the public health system has to act on the potential threat, not waiting to see how bad it will get before intervening. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Whichever way the body count goes, the government would not win with its critics. It will either be accused of overhyping the threat or it will be accused of not being prepared enough. Michael Coston captured this Catch-22 well in his post “Predicting the Unpredictable“:

The more successful they are in containing this outbreak, or in mitigating its effects, the more criticism they will receive in the press for over-blowing the threat.

And when this pandemic comes and goes without too much incident, particularly in the US, people may become complacent the next time we find ourselves facing a nasty virus. The government is seen as the bureaucrats who cried wolf and important recommendations may be ignored.

So what do we need to be doing to take this situation into account as we develop our communication efforts around pandemic preparedness? I have some recommendations:

  • We may have a window of opportunity for individuals and families to begin the process of gathering the supplies they would need in the case of an extended severe pandemic to survive at home sheltering in place. I think that HHS did a good thing by not emphasizing the need to stockpile food while we were in the thick of the beginning of the outbreak, thereby avoiding panic and shortages. But once the danger has passed, messages about slowly but steadily building up a supply of food, water and medical supplies must begin. (Here is an excellent pdf guide to pandemic preparedness and response.)
  • Complacency is a real danger. Messages should make the point that a severe pandemic remains a real possibility and that prevention measures kept this H1N1 virus in check. Parallels with the 1918 influenza virus, which started out relatively mild but returned in a second wave in a more virulent form, may illustrate the possible risks. In any case, the same good hygiene habits that prevent the spread of H1N1 will benefit people by keeping away seasonal flu as well and should be continued.
  • We must take care not to use fear-based messaging and imagery because this can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness — not useful emotions when trying to get people to take action. Messages should emphasize how being prepared puts you in control. During turbulent times, giving people steps they can take to prevent or mitigate problems makes them feel empowered and capable. That’s what we need!
  • Government agencies need to avoid any perceptions that their decisions are being made based on politics rather than science. In chatting with an acquaintance who was at NIH during the 1976 Swine flu epidemic, I learned that he strongly advised against proceeding with making the vaccine public because of safety concerns. He was overruled in favor of political considerations; 25 people died and hundreds of others were paralyzed from the faulty vaccine. While some conspiracy theorists will find nefarious motivations in any government actions, don’t give reasonable people cause to doubt the basis of your policies.
  • Emphasize that being prepared for a pandemic will benefit them for many other types of disasters as well. Many of the same recommendations for food, water and medical supplies apply for regional hazards like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. It never hurts to be prepared, and often helps.
  • Continue to use social media to monitor what people are saying about pandemic flu-related issues. This can give you an idea of incorrect information or rumors that are being passed around, or the questions that keep coming up that need to be answered.
  • The government needs to be proactive about getting its messages out, beyond the news media. Television ads, entertainment education outreach, radio and outdoor media all could be used effectively to motivate people to prepare for another pandemic episode. Social media efforts can be expanded from primarily news coverage to help people learn more about preparedness activities.
  • The tone of the information needs to continue to be straightforward and factual, but emotionally appealing to various audiences. Right now the messages are very general, but they should be tailored to different key groups. If only we had a C. Everett Koop-style figure — or at least a Surgeon General!

This will be a challenge. But on the bright side, we have a higher level of pandemic awareness than I ever thought possible. We need to take full advantage of this window of opportunity.


*Thanks to Michael Coston for that very cute name!

Image credit: CDC Influenza Laboratory

Get Hands-On With Me!

Over ten years ago, I saw a need among nonprofit and public agency staff for a book that would lead them through the process of developing a social marketing program. So often, health, social and environmental organizations decide they want to apply social marketing to the work that they are doing, but do not have the budget to hire a consultant or marketing firm and still have enough left to carry out the project. I decided to fill that gap in the field, and turned in the first draft of the chapters to the publisher in March 1998, just before my first child was born (it was like giving birth twice in a row!). In June of 1999, my book Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide was published by Sage Publications.

Since then, I’ve been gratified to find out that my book has been used by people all over the world to create social marketing programs, teach college and grad-level courses, and to overhaul how organizations carry out their activities directed toward positive behavior change. It’s always exciting when someone tells me they have used my book and found it helpful.

But this blog post is not about promoting the book. Rather, I’m asking for your help. A lot has happened in social marketing — and the world in general — in the ten years since I wrote the book. I’m currently working on the next edition of the book, which will be updating everything that’s outdated and changing chapters and worksheets around based on how my own practice has evolved over the course of a decade. I’ve certainly learned a lot since the book was published, and the field of social marketing has matured as well.

So now I’m reaching out to my target audience (you) to do some research to find out what you would like to see in the next edition. For those of you who have read and used the book, whether as a student or practitioner, please let me know your suggestions. What is most helpful about the book? What didn’t work for you in practice, or was confusing? How can I make the book a better resource for you?

And even if you haven’t read the book, please let me know what topics you are most interested in learning more about. This is a how-to book, so what parts of the social marketing process do you get stuck in? What topics do you want to know more about? What are the big questions that keep you up at night worrying about your social marketing program? And what would your ideal guidebook look like in terms of format?

Any input that you can give me (either in the comments or via email) would be incredibly helpful in making the ultimate product a book that can help you and others to change the world for good. Thank you in advance!

Engagement and Deliverance at the CDC, Part 2

Continuing the sum-up of my experience at the CDC’s 2nd National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media (Part 1 here), here are the key points from the sessions I attended on the second day…

Plenary

  • Jack Wakshlag, Chief Research Officer, Turner Broadcasting Systems – Countering the prevailing wisdom that today’s media consumers are watching less and less television, he provided some statistics that surprised me. TV viewing has been rising from 2002-2007, and the average person spends 47% of their media hours with a television on. Network viewing (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) is at an all-time low, but cable channels are at a high. Even people with broadband internet are watching more TV now than five years ago, not replacing it with online video (which are more like “snacks,” averaging 2 min 12 sec, rather than longer-format programming). Even teens are watching more TV, though less than adults.

    After the session, I asked Mr. Wakshlag what I thought was the elephant in the room, which he hadn’t addressed. Increased TV viewing is great for people working in entertainment education, working to get their issues depicted on TV programming. But clearly the key reason why he is promoting the continued domination of television is to make the case for advertising when many advertisers are defecting to other media – but are people still paying attention to the commercials? With the advent of Tivo and DVRs, many have the ability to bypass the ads. He conceded that only about 50% of viewers watch the commercials, though I suppose the numbers are still big enough to make it worth it.

  • J. Walker Smith, President, Yankelovich, Inc. – Our relationships with brands are changing in a couple of different key ways. First, the culture of “dis-ownership” means that we no longer have to own something to have it (e.g., leasing, swapping, fractional ownership, piracy, etc.). Second, the culture of “responsibility” has come about from an increased emphasis on values that companies should be green, socially responsible, community-focused and purpose-driven. People see their purchases as a way of sending a message and influencing companies’ business practices. This can only happen with increased information availability, but in a pinpointed way. Enabling “narrow engagement,” with just the key pieces of information that people need to make decisions without overwhelming them, is going to be the key to making this happen.

Building Our Understanding of Health Messages Targeting Women
(I was moderating this session and didn’t take as many notes as I should have!)

  • Samantha Nazione, Michigan State University – In a study looking at breast cancer-focused websites, she found that there is not much targeting done in terms of ethnicity or language. In general, the website reading levels were too high. Websites tailored for minorities were more likely to use first-person stories about breast cancer.
  • Patrice Chamberlain, San Francisco State University – Mothers are a huge target of advertising, with 80.5 million mothers controlling 80% of household spending ($1.6 trillion purchasing power). After the internet, magazines are the second most important source of information for moms for purchasing decisions. This study looked at food and beverage ads in the top parenting publications in the US, and analyzed them in terms of the appeals they used. The most common appeals were about the healthfulness and taste of the products. Many also promised things like more family time, improved relationships with the kids, ways for moms to “do it all.” She contrasted the images with some of the nutrition-related social marketing ads that are out there, which often focus more on deficiencies or fear and guilt; we need to learn better from those with the most experience how to appeal to moms.
  • Christy Ledford, George Mason University – In looking at the websites that pharmaceutical companies have used to promote their contraceptive products, they had several common factors. Rather than promoting effectiveness as the key benefit, most touted things like convenience, other physiological benefits (e.g., reduced acne, no periods), and relative risk compared to other brands. The risks were always in tiny text at the bottom of the page, and only one site out of the ten presented the “black box” warning that was required in other media. The sites did not make clear that they were advertising, often appearing to be educational, with the pharmaceutical company or division’s name in an obscure location. And the URLs usually consisted of a message, rather than the product’s name (e.g., onceamonth.com). While there is currently no regulations regarding online direct-to-consumer advertising, most of these sites violate current DTC regulations for other media.

Health Marketing Strategies: Segmentation, Tailoring and Targeting
(Unfortunately, I missed the first speaker in this panel.)

  • Leslie Snyder, University of Connecticut – A meta-analysis of interventions that tailored their communications to audience members found (not surprisingly) that tailored interventions were more effective in bringing about health behavior change than non-tailored interventions. She gave an example of tailored calendars to promote childhood immunizations, which included a picture of the child and his/her name, along with key dates like his/her birthday, required shots based on the birthdate, and the phone number of the nearest clinic to their house. Tailored interventions have a similar effect size to media campaigns, and because the effect declines over time should have a “booster activity” done at about three months post-intervention. Did you know that the University of Connecticut has a Center for Health Communication and Marketing? I didn’t.
  • Adam Barry, Texas A&M University – This was a very exploratory study (only 13 participants) regarding how college students interpret the message to “drink responsibly,” since there is no universally accepted definition of responsible drinking. With responses like no drinking and driving, knowing your limits, pacing your drinking, and planning ahead, there is a lot of room for negative consequences. For example, the students said you can’t know your personal limits until you go past them, and as long as you don’t black out or throw up, you are within the limits. In monitoring your drinking, by the time you notice the effects, your judgment is already gone. If you pace your drinking (e.g., one drink/hour) you can still get drunk because your body does not metabolize one drink an hour. Even the designated driver concept often gets ignored because it’s like a “punishment” for the one who is not allowed to drink. We have to be careful in the messages we put out there, because some can be dangerous if misinterpreted or misapplied.

Peer-to-Peer Communications

  • Scott Shamp, University of Georgia (and others) – For National HIV Testing Day, UGA’s New Media Institute, along with partners Verizon, CDC, Danya International and Nokia, recruited 23 students from universities in the Southeast to come together to create what they called “Personal Public Service Announcements” (PPSAs). These were short videos created on cell phones all in the course of one day. Guided by experts, the students learned about HIV/AIDS, about filmmaking and how to use the technology. After coming up with their plans and having them approved by a CDC panel for accuracy, they were divided into remote teams, who shot the footage and then immediately sent it back to the producers who edited it into short videos. They shot 22 videos, and eight of them were used in the final set. They were distributed online in places like YouTube, MySpace, and blogs (e.g., Osocio), as well as on cell phone networks. They all included the KNOWIT SMS code, to which viewers could text their zip code to receive the testing location nearest them.
  • Sarah Diamond, The Institute for Community Research – The Xperience project trained vocal artists ages 14-25 about drug and alcohol prevention, while also helping them create and record a song, rap or spoken piece about the issue. These pieces were then compiled into a CD and performed at a concert. In research to determine the effect of these peer-created messages on the listeners, she found that when the lyrics were “loss-framed” (e.g., negative effects of drugs), males and females related better to the same-sex artists, and the males responded more in general. The “gain-framed” lyrics (e.g., “you can do it,” “things will be better”) appealed to both genders.

Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the third day of the conference, but perhaps others have posted their notes for other sessions on the Ning group created for the conference. As with many conferences, though, the personal connections made with old and new friends were even more of a highlight than the sessions themselves.

In other CDC-related news, make sure you sign up for the upcoming Web Dialogue on Web 2.0 and Health Marketing co-sponsored by CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing and WestEd. It will be a one-day asynchronous discussion on September 16th about how to use social media technologies in social marketing and public health. I will be a panelist, along with Fard Johnmar and Craig Lefebvre (so far). I can see by those who have already registered to participate that many of my very smart online friends will be there, so it should be a rollicking good time where we’ll all learn from each other. Make sure you sign up too!

And another piece of exciting news comes from Jay Bernhardt, the director of the NCHM:

The CDC National Center for Health Marketing is developing a national network of leaders dedicated to applying the power of marketing, communication, and partnerships to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities in the US and throughout the world. This network of individual leaders and organizations, called the Health Marketing Leadership Roundtable will strive to advance the field of health marketing science and practice, educate and inform partners and stakeholders on the value of health marketing for improving people’s health, and receive key updates on health marketing activities from CDC and others throughout the field of public health.

Whatever gets us closer to formalizing ways to advance the social marketing field and brings practitioners together is a good thing. I look forward to seeing where this goes!