Karen Goldstein

Photo of Karen Goldstein

Vice President
Washington DC
Posts: 5

Karen brings a broad range of skills in public health communication and program management to Ogilvy Public Relations (Ogilvy PR). As a Vice President in the Social Marketing practice, Karen has experience across a range of public health issue—including chronic disease, reproductive health, children’s health, and cancer—and with diverse audiences, such as ethnic/racial minorities, low-literacy audiences, non-English speakers, health professionals, and partners. She is dedicated to ensuring that people have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their health. Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from Duke University and a master’s degree in Public Health from the Health Behavior and Health Education Department at the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health.

Four Things You Need to Know About the Future of Social Marketing

Jun 29

Social marketing experts convened at the World Social Marketing Conference in Washington, D.C. on May 16-17. Credit: World Social Marketing Conference/Carole Douglis

If you’ve ever had the chance to visit the Ogilvy office in Washington, DC, you know David Ogilvy is ever present through the bits of his persona scattered across the office. As soon as you walk through the doors, you’re greeted by a giant mural of the father of advertising himself alongside one of his famous quotes that still motivates us today: “Aim for the remarkable.”  

In that spirit, after attending last month’s World Social Marketing Conference—a biannual gathering of inspired (and inspiring) social marketing academics and practitioners from around the globe who are doing remarkable work, the Ogilvy contingent wanted to share key takeaways (in the form of quotations, of course):

“Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work.”— John Sterman, @MITSloan

As Professor Sterman so eloquently put it: lecture is boring. We know from behavioral science that simply sharing information does not engage and motivate people. He spoke about a role play exercise related to climate change negotiations that—rather than just telling youth about climate change—showed that giving youth tools and letting them learn for themselves resulted in greater emotional engagement with the topic, intention to learn more, and intention to take action. Ogilvy is using this philosophy within its new Center for Innovation and Creative Technology for projects, including virtual reality technology solutions, that aim to change the way users think about risk and health, and ultimately inspire them to take steps toward prosocial actions. We also are educating and engaging audiences by bringing authentic, emotionally compelling stories to life for projects like CDC’s Bring Your Brave cancer awareness campaign focused on younger women and The Heart Truth’s All Our Stories are Red series on heart disease awareness.

“Real world planning is not so linear or circular. It’s more iterative, and it should be.” – Jeff French, @JeffFrenchSSM

There is no shortage of helpful social marketing planning models, like CDCynergy, COMBI, and STELa, to name a few that were presented. The key for using any of them is that you need to use data and insights to inform your programs, set clear objectives, and evaluate. CDC’s Lynn Soklor added that sometimes it is the process of creating the plan that’s helpful since it brings everyone together. At Ogilvy, we believe strongly in doing—and applying—research, and conducting purposeful planning for implementation and evaluation. And we use an iterative model, consulting the data as we go to continually refine and improve our efforts. In the words of David Ogilvy: Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.  

“A major issue with partners is getting everyone to play nice together – we have to build a market before we have concerns over market share.” – Julie Ipe, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

From clean cookstoves to childhood obesity, the idea of public-private partnerships for social change was another clear theme of the week. Ogilvy’s work on the NHLBI The Heart Truth campaign was presented by Ogilvy alum Jennifer Wayman as an example of a successful partnership that engaged hundreds of partners, from corporate brands to community organizations. The fashion show piece of the campaign provided the partners with great assets and something to DO locally, which allowed them to come together around a cause without competition. Working together with corporate partners also reaped benefits beyond amplified reach of campaign messages: it fostered enhanced creative thinking and helped us mine new audience insights.

Social marketing is about participatory social transformation, not just behavior change.”—Jeff French, @JeffFrenchSSM

A clear theme for the conference was that social marketing needs to extend its gaze to social policy and systems change in order to make a true, lasting impact. USAID’s Elizabeth Fox noted that we have not really used social marketing with service delivery, calling it the frontier in integrated social marketing. In some cases we already do this, but the argument was made that we need to get funders on board to do more of this. As we look to the future, behavior change continues to be an important goal of our efforts as social marketers; creating supporting, sustainable environments for these efforts and inspiring individuals and communities to get involved in propagating change is also critical.  

What do you think about the future of social marketing?  Stay tuned for Part II of our key takeaways, coming to this blog next month…

Can marketing campaigns impact our hidden biases?

May 18

Embarrassing story: I was chatting with an acquaintance at a holiday party a few years ago. I had heard him talk before about having a family and raising his son, so I asked if his wife was at the party too. His response: (a large chuckle, and…) My husband couldn’t make it tonight.  While I was mortified, he was good natured about the whole thing.  I had totally made an assumption about him based on my unconscious biases.  This is something we all do.  All the time.  Without realizing it (hence, the unconscious part).  (If you think you are immune, take a few of the Implicit Bias quizzes at implicit.harvard.edu or this quiz at Love Has No Labels.)

Unconscious bias, also called hidden bias or implicit bias, is a prejudice we have or an assumption that we make about another person based on common cultural stereotypes, rather than on a thoughtful judgment (diversityresources.com).  And we apply this unconscious bias across many categories and contexts, such as gender and race, in the workplace and socially. NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof says it well, “Of course, there are die-hard racists and misogynists out there, but the bigger problem seems to be well-meaning people who believe in equal rights yet make decisions that inadvertently transmit both racism and sexism.”

The impact of unconscious bias in hiring and management decisions in the workplace has become a popular topic in the last few years. For example, an analysis by Fortune.com showed that performance reviews differed significantly for men and women, with women receiving more negative personality criticism than men. As many as 20% of large U.S. companies, including companies like Google (and full disclosure, Ogilvy Public Relations), are providing unconscious bias training to their employees, and this percentage could reach 50% in the next five years (The Wall Street Journal, 2014).

One way to overcome unconscious bias is to increase personal awareness of it so we can consciously commit to correcting for it and changing it.  Communications campaigns have the potential to make a huge impact here – opening our eyes to the thoughts we don’t even realize we have.  One example that has really stuck with me since seeing it many months ago is the Always #LikeAGirl campaign.  When this video debuted online (and then aired during the Superbowl), it got people talking about the way we use “like a girl” as an insult without even realizing it.  I personally love this concept, and applaud Always for doing it.  As a mom of a 5-year-old boy, I am already starting to hear what boys do and what girls do, and can see how much this type of bias matters in shaping my son’s view of the world.

Similarly, Similac took on the Mommy Wars with this video a few months back.  Satirically pitting working moms against yoga moms against stay-at-home dads (etc.), this campaign asks parents to stop making assumptions and judging each other based on our life choices and realize that we are all “on the same side”.   Though I kind of wish the dads hadn’t been the first to get to the runaway stroller at the end, the sentiment here about the biases we bring to the table rings true.

From the federally-sponsored What Can You Do? campaign highlighting the talent of people with disabilities in the workforce (check out its Who I Am video) to Tiffany’s inclusion of a gay couple in its Will You? commercial (full disclosure again: this ad was developed by Ogilvy and Mather), communications that flag and challenge our unconscious biases are becoming more common.  Yet the potential to do more in this space seems limitless.

Where else have you seen memorable campaigns that attempt to target unconscious bias?  And where are there opportunities for companies or others to use communications to bring other biases (e.g., age-ism, obesity, veterans in the workforce) to the forefront?

Revisiting Point of Care Marketing for Today’s Connected Consumer

Nov 12

A good friend of mine recently found out through an annual physical exam that she weighed ten pounds more than she had expected – pushing her into the overweight category. She knew she had been gaining weight but didn’t realize how much. This news catapulted her into action. What’s the first thing she did? Go online, of course: she searched for information on how to adjust her calorie intake to effectively lose weight and she looked for apps to help her do it. While I recognize that she is just one person who happens to be pretty “plugged in”, her experience reflects growing trends in healthcare. Many of us regularly turn to the Internet and our constantly accessible mobile devices to get the information that informs our health decisions and to manage our health on a day-to-day basis.

I recently attended the 2nd annual Point of Care National Conference, co-hosted by DTC Perspectives and PoC3, which focused on how to leverage point of care communications to drive patient and healthcare provider engagement—and ultimately improve patient outcomes. The PoC3 defines “point of care” as the healthcare setting or channel (doctor’s offices, hospitals, and pharmacies) in which communications are delivered through various forms (digital, video, and print). Think of the TV screens in the clinic waiting room or coupons in the pharmacy aisle. Yet the question swirling around the conference was this: is point of care really limited to the traditional health care setting or does it happen any time a person is making decisions about their health? With today’s connected consumers and the increasingly advanced and accessible technology used by providers and patients, thinking about where and how people get “care” is critical.

There are several key ways that technology is having an impact. Thinking about point of care in the traditional way, more and more people are using their phones (and other devices) to have virtual office visits with their health care providers. And telemedicine is not just for rural communities anymore. For example, as this recent article in The Washington Post describes, the UCLA Health System is offering virtual access to doctors via cellphone, computer, or tablet, bringing point of care into patients’ living rooms. In addition, down the line with meaningful use, more patients should have easy access to their electronic records and relevant health education materials through patient portals, and presumably easier, more frequent electronic correspondence with their providers.

Outside of the traditional point of care setting, our DIY culture for health certainly leverages technology. We have technology at our fingertips (or in our pockets/pocketbooks, as the case may be) that allows us to search for health information at the moment we need it, or get tools and tips to keep us on track when we are in the moment of temptation. For example, an app called Fooducate provides on-the-spot nutritional information—and alternative recommendations—for restaurant/fast food meals (e.g., is the Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich any better for you than the crispy chicken? The answer is no, actually…) as well as grocery store items (with a simple scan of the barcode). And people are turning to the hundreds of tracking tools related to what we eat, how much we sleep, how much we eA hand holding a mobile phone with a red cross symbolizing health on itxercise, etc.

Other technology includes wearables, which could bring health tracking and patient engagement to a whole new level. There is an interesting argument that wearables are currently being developed for the young and healthy to track fitness, rather than to people with chronic diseases who really need it to track health. Yet, from the Apple HealthKit to the new Stanford Center for Mobile Medical Technology, there seems to be a desire tap into wearables’ potential to provide real data down the line that can have a clinical impact. In addition, there are also really interesting case studies from companies like HealthPrize of use of gamification to help with medication adherence, where people get rewards (e.g., points, badges) for taking their medication as scheduled. The popularity and effectiveness of some of these tools—completely outside of the health care setting—is intriguing.

If these tracking and information seeking behaviors have an immediate and direct impact on our health behaviors, should we consider those interactions to be point of care?  And, if so, how does that impact marketing and communications efforts?  Has point a care become a “moment of need” rather than a moment in a health care setting?

A New Focus for Baby Sleep Safety

Mar 27

I have a baby, which means I spent much of the past few months in a sleep-deprived daze trying to get him to fall asleep—and stay asleep.  I’ve realized through the semi-obsessive talk with my “mommy friends” about how many hours and how many naps, as well as much internet research into what’s “normal,” that the question of how and where a baby sleeps remains controversial.  To prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), the focus of public health messaging for the past two decades has been on putting babies on their backs to sleep.  Thanks in part to the Back to Sleep campaign (created by NICHD in the early 90s and supported by Ogilvy in the early 2000s), this recommendation is well known and SIDS deaths have declined dramatically.  Yet the number of babies sleeping on their backs has plateaued and SIDS continues to be the leading cause of death among infants aged one month to 12 months.  At the same time, rates are on the rise of other sleep-related causes of infant death, such as entrapment or suffocation from accidents like babies getting caught between sofa cushions or adults rolling over babies in bed.

What’s happening here?  Have parents gotten complacent?  The rates of SIDS have decreased so dramatically over the years that perhaps new parents today don’t know anyone who has been impacted by SIDS and may not feel the urgency associated with back sleeping. Could the increase in co-sleeping be an unintended consequence of the success of Back to Sleep messaging?  As any parent knows, babies don’t sleep as well on their backs as on their tummies, but they sure do sleep well snuggled next to mom and dad.

In response to the increase in sleep-related deaths, the American Academy of Pediatrics expanded its sleep recommendations in 2011 to outline a comprehensive safe sleep environment, adding recommendations like breastfeeding, immunizations, and avoiding crib bumpers.  The recommendations also weigh in against bed-sharing, opting for room-sharing instead. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the data that clearly shows the dangers. Yet the recommendations also acknowledge that there isn’t evidence yet showing it can be done safely, not necessarily that it can’t be done safely.

Ad showing a baby sleeping on a bed next to a large knifeWith dangerous sleep practices on the rise, it makes sense there would be a renewed focus on public education.  The Back to Sleep campaign renamed itself Safe to Sleep. And you see campaigns like this one from the Milwaukee Health Department that aim to get the message out about the dangers of bringing baby to bed with you.  Knife-wielding babies?  Yep, that certainly gets my attention.  But did I learn enough from it?  The parent in me has a hard time reconciling this directive with my personal experiences of having my baby sleep longer next to me in those early months.  And the public health educator in me is wondering if we are missing a huge teachable moment here by telling parents not to practice this behavior instead of sharing information on how to do it safely. (By the way, the Milwaukee Health Department released new ads less than a year later with babies in cribs on their backs.)

Will the guilt and blame associated with bed-sharing lead parents to hide this behavior from their pediatricians or support networks?  Are we missing an opportunity here to educate parents about how to bed-share more safely, such as by removing fluffy blankets and tying back long hair?  Perhaps similar to the argument for sex education for teens…if people are going to do it anyway, isn’t it our responsibility to teach them how to do it safely?

What is the right balance between condoning a behavior and teaching safety? Are there messages about other behaviors with this type of dilemma that have it figured out?

Want to be smarter? Try dressing like a doctor.

May 10

As a preteen in the 80s, my demands for Guess jeans and Z Cavaricci shorts were met repeatedly with the same wise—but at the time, annoying—words from my mom: “It’s not what you wear. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

Even though she was doing it more in the “we’re not buying you those ridiculously expensive designer clothes” kind of way, the point was not lost on me.  We’d all like to think that what we wear doesn’t really impact how people perceive us – that people will be able to tell how smart or talented or kind we are by what we say and how we act.  But what about how we perceive ourselves?

We know that there are times when we want to “dress to impress,” whether for a job interview or to meet your boyfriend’s parents.  We know that people do pay attention to what we are wearing, whether consciously or not.  Studies have shown that women wearing masculine clothing in a job interview are more likely to be hired, and teaching assistants wearing more formal clothes are thought to be smarter.  Plus, maybe more importantly, what we wear can impact how we feel about ourselves.  I think many of us feel differently when we dress up for a special event or wear a suit to an important meeting.

But could what we wear actually influence our cognitive abilities?  Turns out the answer might be yes, and that wearing clothing that you associate with being smart can make you act smarter.  The New York Times recently reported on a study led by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (read study abstract) that showed that wearing a white coat that you believe to be a doctor’s coat—as opposed to a painter’s coat—will increase your ability to pay attention.  This is a phenomenon the authors call “enclothed cognition,” which posits that the clothing you wear systematically affects your psychological processes.  If you know the symbolic meaning of a piece of clothing (i.e., a doctor’s white coat), you may take on the traits you associate with it (i.e., being careful, rigorous) when you wear it.  It’s a play on “embodied cognition,” a growing scientific field focused on the interplay of how our physical experiences (e.g., position, posture) impact our psychological processes (e.g., make us feel more powerful).

Image from Mercy Hospital

The goal of the study was to determine if your clothes could affect how you approach and interact with the world.  Research participants who wore a white “doctor’s coat” performed better on a test of sustained attention than those wearing a white “painter’s coat,” a generic white coat, or street clothes.

The idea that what you wear could have a real impact on how you think or perform in the world is fascinating, bringing new meaning to the expression “dressing for success.”  What else could make us act smarter?  Wearing glasses?  Carrying a briefcase?

As a public health professional, the study results make me think: how can we use enclothed cognition to improve people’s health?  Is there something we can wear to help us make better/healthier choices?  Will putting on our exercise clothes really motivate us to go for that run or get to that exercise class?  And how can we facilitate access to these types of clothes for everyone, not just those who can afford them?  Beyond exercise, how can this effect be used to help us stick to our health resolutions or follow through on those behaviors that we know are better for us?