Hospital Eagles Pep Rally Scores

SPRYTE Earned Media Attention with “Littlest Fans”

“If it bleeds, it leads.”

That’s an old adage in journalism, but add this corrollary: “If it bleeds Eagles green, it leads.”

Such was the media environment in our hometown of Philadelphia in the two-week runup to Super Bowl LII, featuring our underdog Birds. Trying to grab the media’s attention for anything other than Eagles-related stories was as futile as trying to dribble a football. Now – and we write this with a broad smile on our faces – all the talk has turned to The Return, and The Parade. In the City of Brotherly Love, there are no other stories of interest.

So when our client, Holy Redeemer Health System, told us soon after Philadelphia punched its ticket to the Big Game about two volunteers including a housekeeper who were furiously knitting Eagles caps for newborns in the maternity ward, we immediately launched a PR blitz. Just think of the earned media potential…a bunch of babies in the nursery sporting handmade green and gray caps. We’ve written here before about the appeal of old people, kids, and animals. The combination of wrinkled babies and underdogs in the city of Rocky was tailor made for cameras.

Not only that, the plan to deck out maternity staff and new parents in Eagles colors turned this into a wonderful morale boost for hospital employees, something different and a great way to let them show off their fandom while reaping attention for their compassionate work year-round.


Running the PR Playbook

One camp in the hospital eyed Super Bowl Sunday for the rally, but we called an audible on that, knowing the media would be far too focused on day-of coverage in Minneapolis to notice our rally, not to mention the lack of afternoon news shows on the weekend. We chose the Thursday before the Super Bowl, late morning, to maximize coverage.

Holy Redeemer set about lining up parents to participate, with signed release forms. SPRYTE, meanwhile, developed a media advisory, which we shotgunned to area press two days before the event. The event was dubbed the “Littlest Fans Pep Rally,” and we noted that “Eagles fans don’t come any smaller than this!” We offered interviews with new parents, maternity staff and one of the two cap makers, an 80-year-old woman whose son and daughter both work in the system.

The other cap maker had a personal contact with the local Fox station, and they were immediately on board, planning a live segment for the Good Day Philadelphia program. Despite the fact the “official” rally was planned for 10:30 a.m., maternity staff scrambled to corral resources for the 9:30 segment (and the 9:15 live teaser). This also gave a wider berth to other media attending later…and a chance for the babies to rest in between.


Carrying the Campaign into the End Zone

The Good Day piece came off without a hitch, and the reporter did a second stand-up for another story during the afternoon news. There were around 17 babies on hand, including a few from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. One turned out to be the progeny of a Patriots fan, so on-the-ball staff scrambled to craft a New England cap and onesie.

“I suppose we have to love him, because he was born this way.” — Jenny Joyce, Fox Philadelphia.

That poor outlier became a highly prized part of every story. And there were many. We re-set at least three more times that morning, for a daily newspaper whose coverage area accounts for a large portion of births at Holy Redeemer; for two more TV stories (one station arrived conveniently late, so nobody butted heads); and for in-house video to be shot and fed later to yet another network affiliate that couldn’t attend. Our parents, no doubt bleary-eyed and still recovering in the hours after their blessed arrivals, were great sports, happily showing up each time with their game faces on.

The story aired on all four Philadelphia network affiliates between 4:30 and 6 p.m.; most included an interview with the octogenarian cap maker, and every story mentioned Holy Redeemer Hospital by name.


Local Babies, National Attention

But the images were just too cute to not “snowball” from there. Fox News national ran a story with photos online. ABC World News included video in its segment on Eagles fandom the night before the game, in the context of team loyalty being passed “from generation to generation.” CNN ran a story, which was picked up by at least one NBC affiliate in Eastern Iowa as part of their Super Bowl coverage.

While the pep rally was a manufactured media event, it wouldn’t have been possible if volunteers weren’t already knitting caps. But once we knew about it, our special teams took the field, ran the playbook, and scored terrific coverage. The smiles are still plastered on our faces, and those of parents and nurses.

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!

Weekend Tennis Wipe Out

Urgent Care Brand Battle

I started playing tennis well over age 40 and for the last six years I’ve been on a United States Tennis Association (USTA) ladies doubles tennis team that travels to outdoor public courts for a 10-week season in late spring.

With a variety of different partners, I’ve only won a couple of matches overall but last year in my very first set of the season, at a local high school court, running backwards to win a point, I slipped and broke my fall with my left wrist.

One of my opponents was a physician.  While accepting our forfeit, she shared her ice packs, asked me a few questions and determined that my wrist was likely broken.  She then strongly suggested that I go to an urgent care center rather than a hospital emergency room because it would be “cheaper” and “faster.”

Through the nausea and pain, that made sense.  But has this ever happened to you?  On a normal day when you’re driving around it seems like there’s an urgent care center on every corner but then, when you really need one, you can’t remember where they are and you can’t decide which one to go to.

Netting Profit in Urgent Care

I’m a healthcare communicator who’s keenly aware of the multitude of competing players so I was actually having an urgent care brand battle in my pain-dulled brain.

As I drove my Jeep out of the high school parking lot with one arm, I seemed to be predisposed against several out-of-town-owned urgent care center brands with generic names and highly evolved signage.  Clearly they weren’t the only choices in our highly populated, competitive region.  There are many urgent care options to choose from.

Should I go to the urgent care center run by the major regional academic medical center with the highest level of trauma care?  Or the Catholic health system’s beautiful new centrally located one?  What about the highly regarded local community health system’s urgent care centers, they have a few? Before they opened four more with closer locations, it was further away but attached to an imaging center.  I was probably going to need X-rays.  At the time, I didn’t even know that the dominant 250-doctor regional multi-location orthopedic practice had a specialty orthopedic urgent care center just 10 minutes away.

Acing Patients’ Needs

At healthcare provider marketing conferences, I always attend the sessions on ambulatory care strategies. There is so much pressure for health systems to turn their focus away from filling hospital beds to providing care where and how consumers want it.

As we all know, that has spurred massive growth in the urgent care category.  Here are some points to consider if your organization is expanding into new communities:

  • The Magic of Location: We promoted shopping centers for more than 20 years and learned that there’s nothing more magical than the perfect location for maximum traffic, visibility, choice and convenience for consumers.  There’s a lot of land grabbing in affluent suburban zip codes.  Do key corners get the business?  Time will tell who the survivors are.


  • Brand Signage:   It matters.  I was driving yesterday in a different state and noticed several major health system urgent care centers in brand new strip malls or free-standing buildings.  They had little signs with small logos devoid of enthusiasm.  It looked like a bean counter cut the sign budget, which I understand considering how many TV ads and billboards they’re paying for.  But this underwhelming brand presentation, the main driver of where people will go with their healthcare dollars, is inconsistent with the healthcare provider’s brand advertising.  And it looks weak compared with competitors who understand location branding.


  • Consumerism: When the doctor came in with my X-ray results at the urgent care center, he confirmed that my wrist was broken and gave me the card of an orthopedic practice also owned by the same health system and told me to call for an appointment after the weekend.  I thought that was a really smart “feeder” strategy until I looked at the card and saw the practice was in another county 30 minutes away.  So I tapped my social media networks over the weekend asking for orthopedist referrals and ended up with a much more convenient and more highly credentialed choice.  How about if the urgent care center makes your follow-up appointment the next week at a location convenient to your home or work before you leave?  Then, you just have to show up and they’ve already heard about you.

My wrist healed beautifully and this year’s season just ended.  The Volley Girls are already looking ahead to next year.  I finally won a set but not a match.

– Lisa Simon, SPRYTE CEO