Monday, 24 January 2011

Has your Social Marketing campaign already happened elsewhere?

What Social Marketing campaigns are currently being conducted around the Country? It's very difficult to find a definitive answer, but it's a safe bet that every local NHS organisation will be running programmes of one sort or another. These will no doubt be aimed at national problems, such as obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse, as well as some that may be more specific to their local area.

As part of writing this blog, I try to keep an eye on interesting Social Marketing schemes taking place at a local level, as well as the national campaigns. I do this through having Google Alerts set up on various keywords, which emails me when those keywords appear online. This certainly turns up some great examples, such as the moodometer initiative being run by the NHS Foundation Trust for Gloucestershire, but is equally certain to miss a lot, whether because the keywords aren't included or they're not documented well online.

A central online hub, displaying details of the various campaigns would obviously be very useful to people like me, who write on the subject, but it could also have more far reaching benefits.

As I've said, Local campaigns are already quite difficult, if not impossible, to track down online. This could become even more so as localisation grows, with the Government's intended reforms for the NHS involving giving more responsibility to local authorities, with Public Health and hence, the majority of Social Marketing going to Councils.

The problem with this, is that many may end up reinventing the wheel. The population of Bristol and Hull may be socially different, but if an anti smoking initiative works in one, what's to say it wouldn't work in the other?  Yet, the two bodies remain ignorant of each others efforts, so spend time and resources researching and developing individual campaigns to the same end, inefficiently doubling up their work.

Whether it's Council's, GP Consortia or the Third Sector running campaigns, being able to see what others are doing and to share experiences could be very useful to those involved. If an idea has been tried somewhere, but been proved to be ineffective, others can avoid making the same mistakes, and possibly look to how it can be made to work. Successes can be repeated in other locations and improved on.  With communications incorporated into the hub, collaborative work between separate authorities, sharing research and developments, could lead to all the more effective strategies.

The Midwife Hull project which we've developed and managed on behalf of NHS Hull, has been extremely successful and could certainly be replicated in other areas of the UK, with the very reasonable assumption of similar success. However, for this to currently occur, it would most likely involve us touting for trade with other PCT's or them happening across the campaign online. In the first instance, those on the receiving end may be sceptical of cold calls and the company's intentions. The second instance, again, depends on that campaign actually being visible online.

It would be a different story with the proposed hub, whereby those concerned would find an honest account of the project given by their peers, rather than a provider looking for work. Key metrics would be included and those responsible could be contacted to answer questions. Projects would also be categorised, so a user could refine their search to campaigns relevant to what they're planing.

The Government is moving towards a decentralised NHS, with authorities looking after their own. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, but those authorities shouldn't take it as a lead into becoming more isolated from others and blinkered as to what goes on outside their borders. They'll all be working to similar goals and should take advantage of that fact to collaborate on achieving them.

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