Earlier this month, I learned that a dear friend and colleague of mine, Sue Peattie,
Sue Peattie via Cardiff Business Schoolhad died. I first met Sue on the Georgetown social marketing listserv. It quickly became clear that she was a delightful, helpful person – always ready to respond to queries and to share information she had, and her responses radiated warmth. I finally got to meet her in person at the Innovations in Social Marketing conference in 2003. A person I thought was she was turning a corner and I called out “are you Sue Peattie”? She turned around with a wonderful smile and replied, “Why yes, I am!” We were soon in a chat up that lasted many years.

It has been in thinking about Sue these last few weeks that the thought began forming: “We must never, ever forget the ‘social’ in social marketing.” Everything that we do in social marketing is to improve the lives and well-being of individuals and communities. We often never meet the people whom we affect by our programs and interventions. But they are someone’s daughter, or father, or cousin, or friend. No matter how applicable our theory, no matter how brilliant our program, no matter how well developed our ego, what we do affects the lives of real human beings. A fellow social marketer recently asked what would happen if we used the term “our people” instead of “the target audience”? In a very real sense, we are always working on behalf of “our people.”

I am going to mourn Sue by celebrating how “social” she was. How she worked for the social good. How she was so socially warm and fun. How she kept cognizant that whatever she was working on affected real people. I invite you, too, to always, always keep the social in your social marketing.