Written by Juilie Hentz
RedBull was on the snack table, an indication of the dynamite schedule and high energy level that epitomized this event.

The Agents of Change Summit welcomed its first gathering of social marketers on February 8-9th in San Diego, CA. The event brought together thought leaders in Social Marketing like Jeff French, CEO at Strategic Social Marketing in the United Kingdom and Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, professor at Griffith University/Journal of Social Marketing, with some of the leading creative thinkers in the digital world like Roy Daiany from Google, Travis Bogard from Jawbone and Danielle Strle from Tumblr to name just a few. This strategic blend of public health and tech worlds juxtaposed behavior change strategy with digital tools to shape a creative approach to improved health outcomes.

At the event opening, attendees heard about key differences between Corporate Marketing and Social Marketing from Rescue’s President, Jeff Jordan. Mr. Jordan presented a simple outline with clearly marked pathways outlining the steps within the discipline of Social Marketing from research and baseline measurements through outcome and impact evaluation.  Speaking of evaluation, a highlight at the event was CDC’s Tom Chapel who presented on evaluation and measurement. Let’s face it, we are all accountable for the change we seek, realized in both positive behaviors and in the money invested in a given program.

Jeff French followed-up with Social Marketing strategies, tactics, and successes, drawing from his vast experience directing social marketing projects for the British Government, and infusing his wonderful sense of humor that makes digesting useful information most enjoyable.

In between keynotes, attendees spent 30 minutes with their selected “Villages”. Sexual Health, Preventing and Treating Drugs/Alcohol Addiction, Preventing and Reducing Obesity, and Preventing and Reducing Tobacco Use were the designated health topics.  The focus of these interim sessions was to hear short presentations on topics related to that defined health topic. Groups further worked through challenges that are often faced in public health practice. The village concept strength was in the opportunity to exchange ideas with others working in your health area and to make new, valuable contacts.

The Summit structure allowed for the largest portion of time to be spent in keynotes. One of many keynote highlights was Kathy Crosby, Director, Office of Health Communications and Education at the Center for Tobacco Products, FDA, who provided audiences with the exciting successes being realized by the FDA in their Youth Smoking Prevention work, the result in part of sound segmentation. Attendees loved the “Left Swipe It” video!

The second day provided a platform for considering digital tools and how they can contribute to improved behavior outcomes.  Danielle Strle of Tumblr reminded us to examine what’s trending when we draft our behavior change strategy. Travis Bogard introduced us to the opportunities that wearables and physical activity apps as tools, impetus to motivate physical activity. Google, Facebook, and Quantified Self all sent representatives to offer insights into ways their tools could be integrated into a successful behavior change design.

High energy was reflected in many ways at this event. It was reflected in the delivery of the many memorable presentations which included short videos like Tony Foleno’s Ad Council spots. It was reflected in the shorter sessions and quick moves to the next agenda item. And the energy didn’t stop there. A live band and dancing after dinner rounded out the day.

So, fellow social marketers and change agents, who wouldn’t want to be on the San Diego Bay in February, walking in 81 degree sunshine and warm breezes, making new friends from an accessible attendee list of approximately 325, and leave with a replenished toolbox for improved strategies and more successful program outcomes?


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