Crisis   Inspiration   Research

A force for change: Agents of Change Summit 2020 recap

February 21, 2020
Nico and I were so excited to go to the National Agents of Change Summet (AOCS) 2020 in San Diego this year – not only as a speaker and sponsor, but to see what other nationwide leaders in all sectors are doing in the social change marketing space.

As a speaker, it was so important to be able to contribute to national conversations about social change marketing in our country. For us, an important part of that conversation is changing behavior through positive messaging and community mobilization – and getting real about what lasting change takes. We were able to share our work with the Washington State Health Care Authority’s opioid prevention campaign and talk through how empowering people with prevention strategies fits in with a holistic effort in our state to meet this crisis head on. You can learn more about the campaign at

Nationally, we saw powerful ways that organizations are creating innovative solutions to problems that people face every day.

Here were some of the top takeaways from the conversations being had at AOCS 2020 that are great reminders when building campaigns to empower your audiences to be a force for change.

Top takeaways from AoC 2020

  1. Bring empathy to all stages of communications. From the language we use, to the websites we design – we need to put our audience first. Not just first but anticipating their needs and moving from a place of deep understanding of their experiences. How can we build empathy into our processes, our systems and our communication at every stage?
  2. We were fascinated with the innovative use of chat bots in health care spaces. Often, we tend to think of chat bots as limited to providing customer service or spitting out information ala Alexa or Siri. It may not be the first stop for empathy!
  3. But this technology is also great at validation, confirming our thoughts and experiences, playing our inner most concerns back to us. Our favorite was this program is designed for young people going through cancer treatment, who wanted to talk about their experiences without putting pressure on their friends and family. It is a safe space to vivibot, but also connects users to real stories from other teens going through a similar experience. The approach was thoughtful, inspired and effective.
  4. Remove burden.
    Is there a step we can remove to make things easier? Is there support we can offer? Removing the burden of action from our audiences can make changing behavior more targeted, realistic and effective.

For government programs, we loved California’s Clear My Record project. Individuals with criminal records struggle to secure employment and housing. Thousands of these same individuals are also eligible to have their records cleared and either don’t know it or run into serious barriers trying to do so.

Where the original concern was around streamlining a convoluted application process, the development team realized that much of the process should be automated, removing the whole burden of applying altogether. Now, records are reviewed and cleared automatically, giving thousands of people better job and housing security. Genius.

Don’t lose sight of what matters.

Behavior change programs can be overwhelming.What is the outcome we really want to see? Does every little thing we do, every tactic, get us closer to that goal?

We need to keep an eye on the big picture and remember why we are here and doing the work that we do. Keeping sight on what matters helps make sure our efforts are on strategy, but it also keeps us open to new, innovative ways to solve big problems. Going back to that larger goal, helps keep ideas (and teams!) inspired.

We are proud to work with change agents across our state who show leadership and intentionality in their work, from thoughtful, mission driven companies to innovative government agencies. Thank you to the Agents of Change team and all of the amazing speakers we saw for continuing to bring innovation and passion to the social marketing space.

Mallory speaking at the 2019 Agents of Chance conference in San Diego

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