Philanthropy Friday: My Day with PSI

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Washington DC as I write this post, and my brain is fried. Fried in a good way because I got to geek out on development all day long with people who are passionate about global health.

I had a very full, wonderful day with PSI at their headquarters. As I explained last week, I won a trip to the nation’s capital in order to learn more about PSI’s work in global health.


This photo was taken at the end of my day spent with PSI. I’m not sure how I was still standing!

PSI’s mission is to make it “easier for people in the developing world to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire by marketing affordable products and services.” They strive for pragmatism and have a strong focus on research and measurement.

Though PSI is well known in the development world, they are not an NGO that has a lot of name recognition with the general population. With a heavy focus on family planning, they have programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health and non-communicable disease. They are probably most known for their work in contraception. Condoms, in particular. One of the presentations I experienced, called “Making Condoms Cool”, included a presentation of some of the condoms and marketing materials used to get high risk youth and adults to use contraception.

condoms psi

Condoms, coasters and literature about using contraception from PSI.

But PSI is much more than condoms and contraception. I also heard of how they are empowering youth to host radio shows that allow them to talk about sex while getting a public health message out in the discussion. They are working with health care workers to be more youth-friendly in order to help address their needs and not be judgmental of their actions. Social marketing campaigns are encouraging mothers in Pakistan to breast feed in the first hour to get the health benefits of colostrum.

Throughout the day, I received a pretty good overview of the state of global health and development in general. There was a lot of talk about the need for partnerships moving forward. To tackle the world’s problems and to get the funding to do so is going to require those in the private and public sector to work together.

I also had the opportunity to visit the USAID office for a presentation on PSI’s family planning programs in Madagascar (funded by USAID). There was talk about social franchising which works by “creating a network of health care providers that are contractually obligated to deliver specified services in accordance with franchise standards under a common brand.” This innovative approach helps address health problems more holistically and less vertically.

I had to go through two security checks and be escorted up to the USAID office.

I had to go through two security checks and be escorted up to the USAID office.

I had also had the opportunity to have a coffee with PSI’s President & CEO, Karl Hofmann. It was great to be able to just sit and have a discussion about development, PSI and life in general. My day ended with some potty talk around how PSI was addressing sanitation in Bihar, India.

Overall, I was impressed by PSI’s approach to global health using a marketing perspective. They are big on research, finding the right markets and measuring results. There was a lot of talk about keeping Sara healthy. Sara being the person they serve.

I learned a lot in my full day with PSI, and I hope this won’t be my last time visiting with them. As they told me from the beginning, their story is fascinating, but it’s a long and complicated one to tell.

What did you know about PSI before reading about them here? What do you want to know more about?

Dorm Life, a Presentation and a Haiku

20140609-211117-76277453.jpgI am sitting in a dorm room at Worcester State University as I write this. It’s weird to be in a dorm room. Let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve slept in a room with nothing more than a small bed, a desk and cinderblock walls. I suspect I wouldn’t do well in prison. And then there’s the whole showering in the shared bathroom down the hall. (Don’t worry, I brought flip flops.)

But it’s better than driving another three hours back up to Maine after teaching for three hours about marketing substance abuse treatment, prevention and recovery programs. And right before dinner too.

I’m at the New England Institute for Addiction Studies (NEIAS) Summer School. I’ve taught at two other NEIAS “schools” and have always enjoyed the diverse group of addiction professionals that they attract from all around New England.

If you are interested, you can take a look at my presentation slides. While my focus was on the substance abuse treatment, prevention and recovery, the basic marketing principles apply for anyone with a business.

As I was making the drive down to Massachusetts, I was thinking about how I’ve completely overcommitted myself over the past couple of weeks, both personally and professionally. Lately, I feel like I’m never even close to getting caught up. While I know I will get everything done that needs to get done to the best of my ability, I also know that I should probably slow things down a bit too.
So I wrote a haiku.
I’ve been writing haiku lately when I need to get some random thoughts and emotions out of my brain. I find it’s a quick way for me to dump any negativity or to just entertain myself with a laugh. It’s a neat brain exercise too because you have to come up with three lines with specific syllables (5-7-5). While I can’t publish what I’m writing most about right now, I can share with you the one I wrote in the car.
Not enough time in the day
Got to slow down now

Can you relate? Bonus points if you comment with a haiku!

Oh, and I’ve got another trip planned for next week too that I’m super excited about. I’ll give you more details in this week’s Philanthropy Friday!

Upcoming Classes in Freeport, Worcester and Online!

I’m excited to share three upcoming classes I will be teaching in May and June. While two are in-person classes in the New England area, the third is a free online webinar I will be offering through Sverve. I hope you will join me for at least one of them!

If you like the sound of these classes feel free to drop me a line. I offer private workshops and am available to speak at local and national conferences and events. I’m always open to offering online classes as well. You can view my classes and workshops page for a list of topics I typically cover.



Using Your Social Media Influence for Social Good: Online

I am excited to partner with Sverve once again for a webinar dedicated to those interested in using social media for social good! 

We work hard at building our blogs and growing our social media networks. Most of us strive to provide good content and engage with our readers. We might even earn some cash from time to time from our blogs and social media channels. Why? Because readers, brands and public relations companies understand that our words mean something. That people are listening to what we have to say.

Imagine what kind of change we can make in the world if we used our social media influence for social good. Not only do we empower our readers to become advocates for the causes they care for, we also feel good about giving back.

Read the full description

Register for Using Your Social Media Influence for Social Good for FREE! (registration is required to access the webinar)


Business Blogging 101: Freeport, Maine

This local blogging class is being offered through RSU5 Recreation and Community Education, which covers Freeport, Pownal and Durham, Maine.

Writing and maintaining a blog for your business is a great way to keep in front of customers or clients on a regular basis while positioning yourself as an expert in your field. A blog is also a great way to drive traffic to your website and rank you higher in search engines. In short, a blog is an extremely inexpensive way to market yourself, your products and/or services.

Read the full description

When: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST

Where: Freeport High School, Room: 102, Holbrook Street, Freeport, ME 04032

Price: $30.00 (residents),  $35.00 (non-residents)

Registration: Online or print the Course Registration Form and mail or drop off the form locally


Marketing Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Recovery Programs: Worcester, MA

This class will be offered at the 45th annual New England School of Addiction Studies and the 14th annual School of Prevention Studies. The program will take place at Worcester State University in Worcester, MA from June 9 – 12, 2014. My class will be offered as part of the Operational Management: Addiction Field Concentration track. Check out the full course list and course descriptions and register.

Most substance abuse treatment, prevention and recovery programs do not have the luxury of big marketing budgets or even a designated staff marketing person. Coupled with the stigma that comes along with substance use disorders, marketing and branding an organization becomes challenging, to say the least. Managers are tasked with promoting programs on shoestring budgets and little education on the intricacies of marketing. This course will examine various concepts and strategies for developing an integrated marketing communications plan – that includes traditional and social media strategies – within your organization.

Read the full description

What classes might you be interested in taking?

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