Category Archives: Public Relations

Sponsorships. To do or not to do?

Every marketer I know struggles with the issue of spending marketing dollars to sponsor not-for-profit community agencies and events such as charity balls or actions, little league games and others.  This post by my colleague, Brian Whitman, describes how some evaluate and approach sponsorships.

3 tips to maximize community sponsorship dollars
by Brian Whitman

Brian CMOWhen I was a VP of Marketing for a hospital system in the midwest it seemed everyone wanted our sponsorship support.  Every employee and every physician had their own pet project, activity or child’s sport team they wished to have the hospital system sponsor. While everyone claims their sponsorship offers “good PR” – the reality is that many of these efforts have little PR value, and likely no marketing value. Yet often, politically it seemed we were in a tight spot to say yes.   Read more . . .

Read the full post and others by Brian at

In times of change, healthcare leaders turn to internal communications experts

CommunicationHealthcare leaders recognize the importance of internal communication experts when it comes to creating awareness, understanding and support for organizational change. And it goes without saying that “change” is the new watchword of the healthcare industry.

From development of accountable care organizations, to cost reduction initiatives, to implementation of health IT systems and EMRs, to the creation of new ventures and partnerships, the magnitude and rate of change for healthcare workers are significant.

But not all of the messaging is getting through.

“We’re putting out more and more information, but seem to be getting less and less support for what we need to do,” declared a hospital administrator. And therein lies the problem. One of the most common traps we fall into is confusing information sharing with communication. The act of telling someone something does not necessarily equate to information received or understood.

So how do health system executives rally the troops to gain support for large scale change initiatives?

The answer is strategic internal communications, a purposeful approach to translating corporate strategy, activities and issues for the workforce, and developing messaging, methods and channels to reach, engage and rally support from internal audiences.

To get the most out of internal communications functions, healthcare executives as well corporate communications leaders, must first define the role of internal communications beyond that of simply disseminating information. Best practices demonstrate focused alignment of internal communication initiatives to corporate goals, engagement of managers at all levels as linchpins in the communications process, and expert communications professionals that serve as strategists and counselors across the health system.

5 Areas of Strategic Focus for Internal Communicators

Focused, strategic internal communication initiatives can build a strong sense of identity, purpose, values and culture among employees; facilitate strategic transformation and change; and engage leaders and staff in meaningful and productive ways.

The operative word is focus. Communicators must discern the difference between nice-to-do activities and mission-critical communications strategies and tactics. For most healthcare organizations, strategic internal communications will yield the most impact when focused on five core areas:

  1. Corporate Strategy – informing, engaging and building commitment to the health system’s vision, strategy, goals and major initiatives.
  2. Brand Alignment – creating a unified internal identity, sense of purpose, values-driven culture and brand experience.
  3. Change Management – informing and educating staff about major changes and the impact on jobs, work flow and processes; facilitating adoption of new practices.
  4. Issues Management – informing, rallying support for, and managing critical issues and unplanned events that impact staff, affect employee relations and damage reputation.
  5. Workplace Culture – engaging employees in major events, recognizing and celebrating staff achievements, and creating a sense of pride in the work and the workplace.

When Trust is Established, People Become Active Participants

Leadership is tested most during times of organizational transition. And nothing can derail progress like a workforce that is at best disengaged, but all too often just plain mistrustful of management’s intent. A well-developed, focused internal communications strategy and capability can change that – and facilitate organizational transformation by engaging employees in change management, inspiring staff to live and deliver the brand, and building commitment to mission, vision and goals.

The bottom line – and the impact on the bottom line – comes from realizing that better communications, not just more information, will drive success.

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Marketing and PR: Partners or Frenemies?

Do your marketing and PR teams play well together? “Not always,” say many CMOs. And, unfortunately, sometimes I hear “not ever.”

So why can’t we all just get along?  It’s a complex issue with root causes ranging from the genesis and evolution of public relations and marketing functions in healthcare organizations, to conflicting and sometimes competing priorities and accountabilities, to misperceptions about the value and return on investment of both disciplines – all dished up with a pinch of territorialism.   And while separate leadership structures can also create roadblocks to productive working relationships, conflicts are just as likely to exist where marketing and PR report up to the same executive.

More recently, the explosive use of Web, social media and mobile technologies by everyone from patients to physicians to business partners and the media, has heightened tensions between the disciplines as to ownership of communications channels, messaging, audience engagement and other aspects of marketing and corporate communications management.

If you’re hearing the team make these kind of comments (pulled from real life – you can’t make this stuff up), then it may be time for an intervention:

  • “Marketers only care about the numbers.”
  • “PR is soft, and the metrics are softer.”
  • “When will marketing understand we do more than write press releases?”
  • “Show me a PR person that read a spread sheet.”
  • “The marketers get all the money.”
  • “The PR people have all the fun.”
  • “Marketing thinks Facebook is a free advertising channel.”
  • “PR wants relationships – I need volume.”

Sound familiar? To change the conversation, we need to follow the examples of organizations where public relations and marketing are united and work together seamlessly to further their health systems’ mission, vision and business agendas. What these high performing teams have in common are shared goals, synergistic capabilities, collaborative work processes, mutual respect and accountability for success.  Sometimes, they work in the same division; sometimes not. But they do work together.

Across all industries, the disciplines of marketing and public relations are increasing viewed as core business competencies critical to driving growth, innovation, customer loyalty and better business performance.  In healthcare, the opportunity for marketing and PR professionals is unprecedented.  Together, they can create collaborative, mutually-accountable disciplines that proactively address the changing basis for competition.  First and foremost, there must be clear alignment to the organization’s strategic vision and goals. 

The bottom line is that the traditional roles of marketing and PR are blurring somewhat, in large part due to the game-changing capabilities of web, social networking and mobile technologies.  And when borders get fuzzy, skirmishes sometimes erupt.  But opportunities also open up – new, blended competencies will better leverage those platforms for communications and marketing success.

It’s a challenge that will require a purposeful, comprehensive and collaborative approach.  And the timing couldn’t be better.

Download PDF.  “Can’t We All Just Get Along”  by Karen Corrigan, Terri Goren and Phyllis Marino. SHSMD Spectrum.  Jan/Feb 2012.