Interview: Professor Jeff French

jeff-french-fixedThis month we conducted a fascinating interview with renowned social marketer and public health specialist, Professor Jeff French, CEO of Strategic Social Marketing, International Social Marketing Association and European Social Marketing Association Board Member.

“As a seasoned SM academic and practitioner, what major challenges (or barriers) do you think face SM in Europe at present?”

The  big challenges I think is to translate social marketing into something that all those working on social challenges can understand and see how it can add value to what they are trying to achieve. In some ways this is a big challenge as there is a lot of misunderstanding about what social marketing is and some antagonism and mistrust of the M word especially in the not for profit sector. However it is my experience that when we explain the key concepts of social marketing and illustrate them with real life examples people easily understand how SM can help with their work. Policy makers and practitioners  are also looking to find way of being more responsive to citizens needs and so when they understand SM this fits very well with this desire.

“As chair of the ESMC 2016 organising committee, what are you personally looking forward to at the conference?”

I am looking forward to three things. First I am looking forward to meeting up with and exchanging learning with the broad range of people that will be attending the event. I am also looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones at the event. Finally I am looking forward to having my mind stretched and challenged, as I always come away from the event energised with new thoughts, examples and ways of tackling the big social challenges all societies face.

“Do you think that ESMC presents a real opportunity to get SM / BC on the agenda in the Nordic region?”

Yes I do. I think the event will help a core of people in the region to come together and start to develop a learning networks that will have a big impact in the years to come. The reason that ESMA and the conference organisers FUSE are committed to staging the event in different parts of Europe every two years is to promote understanding of social marketing and encourage the spread of good practice around Europe.  We should also remember however there will be many other countries represented outside the Nordic region so the event will also act as a catalyst for more and better social marketing across Europe.  It’s going to be a great event!