This year, the World Social Marketing Conference was held for the first time in the United States – right here in Washington, D.C. The conference was designed to act as a vehicle to help build a global movement dedicated to capturing, spreading and nurturing good practice in social marketing. The Porter Novelli team was proud to participate. In case you missed it, our team compiled takeaways about the evolution and future of social marketing:

  • Much has changed since social marketing first came on the scene in the early 1970’s, but the desire to do well by doing good remains as strong as ever.
  • Technology and methods of communication look much different than they used to, and health and social issues are increasingly complex, but the power of applying marketing techniques (like identifying your audience­) to change behaviors remains.
  • Social marketing has always focused on behavior change – health matters and behaviors matter in health. Moving forward, we need to look at how to change behavior, but also focus on the behaviors that matter most.
  • Social marketing needs to go beyond government and nonprofit collaboration, to thinking more progressively about industries’ role.
  • “Wicked” problems (such as climate change) are still in need of social marketing solutions. The only way to tackle these big issues is to think bigger and bolder about systems approaches; roles of governments, nonprofits and industry; and, ultimately, what everyone can contribute to changing global behaviors.
  • Social marketing is continuing its path of leading integration across disciplines and the idea of a “total market approach” is still a challenge.
  • (And my favorite) Proper planning and research are the best preventive measures for “premature tacticfication.” Thankfully, this is an area where Porter Novelli shines with our Strategic Planning, Analytics and Research team.


We have the opportunity – and responsibility – to forge private and public partnerships, to bridge the gap between government, nonprofit and industry, to tap the power of technology innovation for social good.