Honoring Lew Klein’s Life and Legacy

Looking Back on Lessons Taught by Philadelphia’s Broadcast Legend

Yesterday, Temple University held a community memorial celebration for Lew Klein – a Philadelphia broadcasting pioneer and local icon who passed away last month at age 91.

After the news of his passing broke in June, several Philadelphia media outlets published articles to honor his life and the impact he made on the broadcast media realm.

In a front page story about Klein’s legacy, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “Over his career, he influenced thousands of students and hundreds of broadcast professionals, including Eagles broadcaster Merrill Reese, the actor Bob Saget, the comedian David Brenner, WPVI president Bernie Prazenica, Phillies broadcasters Richie Ashburn and Tim McCarver, and (American) Bandstand host Dick Clark.”

Additionally, the Philly Ad Club’s obituary for Klein noted, “Lew Klein had a masterful career in television broadcasting that has spanned more than five decades. And even after he retired, he had continued to champion a stronger, more vibrant industry through this involvement in teaching, lecturing and mentoring the broadcast stars of every generation.”

Important Lessons I Learned from Lew Klein

It was one of my champions, the late Sally Berlin, who introduced me to Klein. Sal and I were close friends through the Philadelphia Public Relations Association.

In the fall of 2001, Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater decided to rename its annual alumni event as The Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Awards to recognize Klein’s achievements and his 50-year teaching career at Temple’s communication school. When Sal heard this, she grew curious about what type of publicity was being planned to support the renaming.

Sal learned quickly that, other than a news release, the University’s communications team wouldn’t have bandwidth for a big announcement. In her indignation, she lined up my agency to publicize Klein’s honor.

I had the pleasure of meeting Klein for the first time a month or so before the December 2001 Luncheon when I interviewed him poolside on a boiling October day at his beautiful home in Rydal.

With Temple’s news release and my agency’s typical unbridled drive for earned media, we placed a number of wonderful stories, including a cover story in the now defunct Montgomery Record and a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer society column. Of course, all the TV stations were there too. Everyone knew Klein. I never met or crossed paths with him again, but I was reminded of my encounter with him when I heard news of his passing in June.

I decided to blog about my experience from 18 years ago to celebrate Klein’s legacy and share three things I learned from that earned media campaign:

  • Professional Associations Offer Unlimited Opportunities – If I hadn’t joined PPRA and become friends with Sal, I would never have met the legendary Lew Klein. My previous blogs have advocated for joining professional associations, and this is another good example of why.
  • You Can Demonstrate Your Talent with Enriching Experiences – Not all enriching experiences make you rich. Selected strategically and amplified to the right audiences, a pro bono project and a delighted “client” can also be a way to get your talent noticed by new and different high- potential influencers.
  • Paper Files Can Be Rewarding – SPRYTE’s portfolio of work is located in giant, old school metal file cabinets. In a world where there’s less and less paper, I was so happy to be able to grab my Lew Klein file. In it was the Luncheon program, the original newspaper clips, the Temple news release and my hand written interview notes.

Of course, Sal was thrilled for Klein with the results. This was just one of the thousands of magical things she made happen for people. Also in my file was a thank you note. Of course, I saved it. And I’m glad I did, because it was rewarding to see it again and to think about that special time so many years ago.

-Lisa Simon

Devine Grades Healthcare Sector with a “B”

Expansion Must be Balanced with Reimbursement

The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey stages a very successful, well-attended quarterly South Jersey Business Outlook where panelists from different industries grade the economy today and also provide their six-month forecasts.

Representing the consumer healthcare industry on the panel in June was Joseph W. Devine, FACHE, who is President and Chief Experience Officer of Jefferson Health New Jersey and Chairman of the Boards of the New Jersey Hospital Association and the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, where I’m a fellow Board member.

In spite of never before seen revenue growth and expansion, Devine gave the healthcare industry a B grade for both now and his six-month forecast.  That’s because of “uncertainty,” Devine said.  “We have to balance investment and (government) reimbursement.”  Government reimbursement rates are forever changing and unpredictable.  Still, healthcare expansion in New Jersey is robust and gaining strength.

Five hundred million dollars in taxes contributed to the State of New Jersey.  More than $565 million in free care to state citizens.  More than 120,000 full time hospital employees.  These are some of the statewide economic impact statistics Devine provided.

Investment in South Jersey Healthcare is Staggering

Closer to home and specific to Southern New Jersey, Devine said Inspira Health Network is spending $356 million building its new hospital near Rowan University in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County and that Jefferson Health is spending more than $450 million on expanding its campuses in Cherry Hill and Washington Township, Camden County.

Devine called the amount of new investment “staggering.”  And all the major players are also buying new electronic health record (EHR) platforms, if they don’t already have them, including Jefferson Health New Jersey, which spent $115 million on a “Cadillac” EHR, which goes live in September.  “This is what consumers expect,” Devine said.  “You have to have it (an EHR.)”

Globally, venture capitalists have invested more than $9 billion in digital healthcare and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has acquired more than 60 healthcare companies in recent years, Devine continued.  And speaking of healthcare tech, Jefferson is driving innovation by partnering with five different startup companies in Silicon Valley.

So, what does this all mean for a local, independent healthcare communications consultancy?  After years of supporting both for and nonprofit healthcare companies, two years ago, the expanding, diversifying healthcare sector Devine described is why my agency Simon PR reinvented itself as SPRYTE Communications, a specialist in the healthcare provider space.

While Devine’s optimism was guarded due to government’s unpredictable reimbursement posture, my excitement grew as his remarks continued.  There are so many outstanding healthcare prospects for SPRYTE to pursue in New Jersey.  I’m not ready to give SPRYTE a grade but in a cautiously optimistic way, I believe, we are very well positioned for the healthcare marketplace today and in the future.  -Lisa Simon

Pointing Out Oppression on July 4th

Letters to the Editor Amplify the Topic

With the 4th of July holiday rapidly approaching later this week, we’ve been reflecting back on the awesome Letter to the Editor campaign SPRYTE conducted in conjunction with observance of the patriotic holiday last year.

Our work was for Relievus, a specialty pain management medical practice with 17 locations in Southern and Central New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The analogy of patients struggling to overcome opioid addiction as a modern-day fight against oppression and the need to band together for a common good was a popular 4th of July inspired message, as proved by our nine Letter to the Editor placements in prominent daily and weekly newspapers.

People Who Abuse Opioids are not Inferior

Authored by Managing Physician, Dr. Young J. Lee, in the Relievus Letter to Editor, Lee wrote, “It’s important to understand that people who abuse opioids are not weak or inferior.  They simply are people trying to deal with their pain.  Eventually this pain becomes difficult to manage until it begins affecting their quality of life.”

Dr. Lee continues, “managing pain takes an intense, multifaceted approach. It takes a united and coordinated front.”  His message resonates with the community at large.

That’s why placing a Letter to the Editor by a single author in multiple locations is one of SPRYTE’s favorite high impact, hyper-local earned media tactics.  And a Letter to the Editor campaign delivers beautifully when a healthcare provider has multiple locations covering a wide geographic footprint served by a variety of local media outlets.