World of Opportunity for Healthcare PR

Podcasts: Find Them and Pitch Away

Public relations pros of a certain ilk celebrate any and all new opportunities for earned media.  Of course, conventional mass media is often the most highly-valued target for our efforts.  But, have you ever thought about pitching a podcast?

That’s what SPRYTE did recently on behalf of Relievus, a 17-location specialty pain medicine medical practice in Southern and Central New Jersey and suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. SPRYTE’s engagement was focused on the practice’s reputation in the marketplace among consumers and future business partners and investors. 

So, Select Greater Philadelphia’s “Growing Greater” podcast was naturally a good fit. An organization housed within the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Select is the region’s business attraction organization. Select’s mission is to “highlight greater Philadelphia’s unique business assets to national and global audiences with the ultimate goal of growing the economic vibrancy of our collective community through attracting new businesses and new jobs to an 11-county region.”

The “Growing Greater” podcast “uncovers personal and professional successes and challenges with academic, business, and civic leaders from organizations large and small across diverse industries.”  Deep in to its second season, “Growing Greater” already claims “thousands of listeners around the corner – and around the world.”

While the bulk of SPRYTE’s work on behalf of Relievus focused on innovative patient therapies and approaches to pain, storylines of interest to prospective patients, the “Growing Greater” podcast also offered an opportunity for Relievus Managing Partner Dr. Uplekh Purewal and Chief Operating Officer Ron Saltiel to share the practice’s business success story.

The 30-minute interview provided an opportunity to shine a spotlight on:

  • Relievus’ rapid geographic expansion to 17 locations.
  • The practice’s steady stream of top clinical talent, graduating from the region’s many medical and allied health schools.
  • The most innovative and contemporary approaches to managing patients’ pain.

Podcast Listenership is Climbing

Over the past several years, the public’s interest in podcasts has grown rapidly. Gene Ely, a contributor to Forbes who covers digital media, wrote in his article about podcasts last year: “There are now some 525,000 active shows and over 18.5 million episodes. Listenership is climbing; almost half of Americans 12 or older have listened to a podcast. So is advertising. Ad spending is forecast to grow from $326 million in 2018 to $534 million in 2020.”

Podcasts’ growing influence on consumers is undeniable – something that our team has kept an eye on regularly. In fact, SPRYTE has blogged about podcasts in healthcare twice before. In both cases, we focused on podcast production, because let’s face it – in today’s world, who doesn’t know an individual or organization who has a podcast?

Just like any other news platform, podcast producers are often hungry for solid material, especially within the confines of their niche topics. Yours just might be a great match, and an even better way to expand your earned media results!

Reflecting on Tennis Injuries, Urgent Care and Thought Leadership

How Brand Spokespeople can Inspire Confidence in Urgent Care Centers

My ladies’ doubles tennis team had its final match of the summer last week, and it turns out that my opponent was one of the same opponents I had three summers ago when I broke my wrist during my first match of the season.

Fortunately, we were able to play two sets this time. After the second set, she asked me if I once was injured at the beginning of a match a few years ago. I confirmed that was me who had an epic wipeout running for a ball that June in 2016.

I remembered I had blogged about the brand battle I had that day, driving around with one arm trying to figure out which urgent care center to go to.

Well, it’s been two years since that blog was posted. As I was re-reading it, I kept thinking about how much SPRYTE could contribute to a multi-location urgent care brand.

That’s because we’re hyperlocal healthcare PR experts. We’ve had a blast and done a great job building the reputation of Holy Redeemer Health System’s single Pediatric UrgiCare Center. And, we deploy a favorite consumer public relations strategy that other urgent care brands should consider: the Brand Spokesperson.

One example of this is our work to leverage Dr. Avi Gurwitz – a pediatrician at Holy Redeemer and medical director of its Pediatric UrgiCare Center – as an expert resource for local print and broadcast journalists. His extensive pediatric experience has made him a great go-to expert for a variety of health-related stories, including a Q&A segment on KYW-AM about spring sports and concussion prevention.

Additionally, Dr. Gurwitz has provided tips for families traveling during vacation season in an article by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and discussed cases he has seen in the UrgiCare Center to warn against trending risks like Lyme disease and the dangers of heavy backpacks.

So, what type of impression is made on Holy Redeemer’s potential pediatric patients when they see and hear knowledgeable, articulate and warm Dr. Gurwitz interviewed by broadcast and print healthcare journalists? We think it’s a very positive one that can make kids and their parents feel confident about the pediatric care they’ll receive from Dr. Gurwitz and his team.

While many people aren’t naturally-gifted spokespeople like Dr. Gurwitz, urgent care organizations should utilize this consumer marketing tactic as part of their integrated marketing strategies whenever possible. Large, brightly-lit signs and billboards don’t always build this type of confidence in your patient care team.

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

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.

Juneteenth – America’s Other Independence Day

Patient Experience Relies on Understanding Diverse Perspectives

Americans love their Fourth of July holiday. After all, it’s America’s birthday – the day we traditionally set aside to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of a free nation where “all men are created equal.”

But for many, those hallowed words proved hollow. Hundreds of thousands of slaves throughout the young United States – especially in the South – would need to wait almost another century before their rights to equality were officially recognized.

Another View of History

On July 5, 1852, famed African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave, delivered an impassioned speech spelling out the irony inherent in the July 4th celebration:

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn,” Douglass said. “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim…”

It would take another 13 years, hundreds of thousands of lives, and a Civil War that tore apart the fabric of the American nation before four million African-American slaves would get their own taste of freedom.

Juneteenth – Freedom Reborn

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, military commander of the defeated Confederate state of Texas, read aloud General Order No. 3, telling the populace of Galveston that: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Spontaneous celebrations among the newly freed African American population quickly erupted across the South as Juneteenth was born. African-American communities across the U.S. soon adopted Juneteenth as their own holiday, using it as an occasion for celebrating freedom with public events, picnics and church gatherings.

Understanding Leads to Compassion

Once we understand the history of Juneteenth and how it came into being, it’s easier to appreciate why many African Americans consider Juneteenth to be a day to celebrate not only the vision of freedom President Lincoln described in his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation but also the original promise of the Declaration of Independence.

Since our childhood, we’ve been told that America is a melting pot, comprised of people from all over the world, representing a multitude of religious backgrounds, races, cultures, customs, languages and lifestyles.

Healthcare providers face the everyday challenge of understanding how these differentiating factors may affect individuals’ or families’ attitudes toward illness, pain, coping and death. It is important to appreciate why these attitudes are held, because they can significantly influence their willingness to explore various treatment options. Hospice, in particular, can be an especially touchy discussion topic.

For example, according to statistics, African-Americans comprise approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but they make up only 7.6% of hospice patients. Ironically, African-Americans have a disproportionately higher rate of cancer and heart disease, which are among the top hospice diagnoses.

Researchers point out several reasons for this incongruity. As a rule, African-American families tend to be less trustful of the American healthcare system. In addition, because medical decisions tend to be made within the family, there may be a reluctance to consult with a new, unknown healthcare professional or someone outside the home. Finally, statistically speaking, African Americans tend to be especially reluctant to cease life-prolonging procedures such as tube feeding, organ donation, and palliative care in the hospice setting – because extending life is generally seen as something to be preferred.

Honoring Differences

Healthcare communicators need to recognize that their messages may be perceived very differently by diverse audiences and adjust accordingly to ensure positive patient experience.

As the U.S. healthcare system continues to evolve to one that is more population health-oriented and patient-centered, there is a growing need for healthcare providers to educate patients, families and the general public about what they can do to stay healthier, as well as the nature of specific healthcare challenges and treatment options.

Understanding their emotions, how they think, and the reasons behind these different perspectives is vital to helping patients and families make treatment decisions that are most appropriate for their individual situations.

It’s not unlike coming to appreciate the Juneteenth holiday. The better we understand the history and background of our patients, the better we can understand and honor the views and emotions that influence their decisions and actions.

-Thomas Derr

Don’t Overlook Professional Association Membership

Learn. Grow.  Test yourself

I’m a joiner.  I like belonging to things.  Clubs.  Museums.  Gardens. And, especially professional associations.

Back in the day when I worked in other people’s agencies, we were encouraged to join associations and, whether we were active or not, our annual dues were typically paid by the firm.

I was so enamored with the Philadelphia PR scene back then and I felt so lucky to have landed in it. Even as a junior pro, I made time to attend programs or work on committees and also get my work done.  I would just come in early or work late to stay on top of assignments.  Well, any one who knows me knows I’ve always liked to work in the quiet and calm of a weekend too.

Climbing a Leadership Ladder

When I was climbing the leadership ladder towards President of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA,) I chaired the membership committee several times and was Vice President of Membership at least once.

I would call people who hadn’t renewed their membership and often hear, “my employer isn’t paying my dues next year” so I’m opting out.

What?!  I couldn’t imagine, in the spirit of advancing their own careers and networks, why these individuals wouldn’t just pick up the tab themselves.  If you don’t spend your money on that, what do you spend it on?

But then I remembered as head of my own Agency, how many employees’ dues I paid in professional associations, often disappointed that the year would come and go and that they:

  • Didn’t attend programs
  • Didn’t join committees
  • Didn’t represent our Agency in the wider community
  • Didn’t take advantage of professional growth
  • Didn’t practice or develop their leadership skills

SPRYTE was recently engaged to support a substantial international happening in Philadelphia that took place last week.  We worked with many partners and competitors, ensuring its significant success.  I knew so many of the players personally, which made delivering against the project expectations much easier.  It was so rewarding and I was thinking about how I knew these individuals all these years later. Guess how? Through PPRA.  That’s what’s called a return on investment.

No TV at the Shoreham Inn

None of SPRYTE’s full time employees have televisions. They are of a breed that streams what they want on demand, including news.

I hope they stream local news because if they don’t and never see it, that puts them at a disadvantage for pitching broadcast news stories, but that’s another blog topic.

This blog is about TVs and watching local news.  My house has many TVs, large ones. And I have one in my office too that I watch all day.

I like to watch news all the time on TV, particularly local news. That’s because, in real time, I like to know what’s going on. Does anyone else out there have an insatiable appetite for headlines and breaking news?

Now, I know I can get breaking news on social media and I do, all the time, especially on Twitter. But, for me, it doesn’t compare to seeing and hearing live television.

At the Shoreham Inn in Vermont last weekend, I thought about this a lot. We weren’t camping so I was caught off guard by not having a TV in our room. Not only was there not a TV in our room, the “bird” room adorably decorated with bird houses and comfy quilts, there wasn’t even one in the first-floor common area/lobby.

Gadgets Don’t Make Up for It

It’s not like I wasn’t reading an amazing historical novel about India in the late 1920s, (Julia Gregson’s East of the Sun.) Or, that I didn’t have at least some of my gadgets with me for keeping in touch and reading daily newspaper digital replicas, my Samsung Galaxy S9 and my Mini iPad or my business reading folder, stuffed with printed out emails and public relations documents.

Still, it just felt like something was missing. Maybe I’m addicted to the white noise constant news talk provides.

In any case, when we got home to our casa of many TVs, I turned on the one channel I know has local news on Sunday nights at 6 pm, NBC 10.

It didn’t disappoint. Yes. I did want the weather forecast for the week and to be caught up on my hometown sports teams.

I also saw the mayoral candidates in the neighborhoods campaigning for the upcoming primary. Two past clients were also in the news, one in a negative way, one in a positive way.

That got me thinking about how we might reconnect and I made a note to reach out to them soon.

I could go on with a long, banal list of the thoughts I have as the owner of a public relations agency when I watch local TV news. I think you get the picture, or should I say are you getting the live digital video feed? -Lisa Simon

 

 

 

 

 

Building Your Broadcast Brand Takes Time

Know the Factors

Sometimes clients, both commercial and nonprofit, think if they hire an established PR firm with lots of earned media depth and achievement that they’re guaranteed broadcast TV coverage exactly when and how they want it.

But in our experience at SPRYTE Communications, that’s not always the case.  It can take time to build up your broadcast brand with the powerful, gatekeeping TV news assignment desks in a major market.

There can even be a few strike outs before you win a placement, even if the story meets the following critical criteria:

  • Scheduled in mid to late morning on a week day
  • Abundant visuals for good TV
  • Close proximity to news stations
  • A nonprofit or charitable partnership is prominent
  • Easy accessibility to the action

This first struck me back in our corporate social responsibility (CSR) days with the Rohm and Haas Company, a global specialty chemical company once headquartered on Independence Mall in Philadelphia.

This was before SPRYTE decided to focus exclusively on supporting healthcare providers and social service agencies.

In any case, the client took an eight to 10-year hiatus from asking our agency to support its annual Fine Arts Awards program for students graduating from elite local college fine arts programs such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Moore College of Art.

For the 10 years before the hiatus, our efforts always drew TV cameras and the program was featured on most newscasts in the market.  But, back then, our earned media outreach was part of a consistent, ongoing and deliberate external CSR program.

And during our consulting hiatus, in the spirit of shareholder value and readying the firm for the block, most CSR activities were de-emphasized and the appetite for external earned media exposure for any that remained was, minimal.

So, even though we were activating to support a global company with deep community roots delivering an incredible boost to budding graduates of elite art schools, the media had no familiarity with Rohm and Haas at the time and wasn’t even confused, in a positive way, about why a chemical company would be supporting artists.  There was no TV broadcast coverage of the program that year we came back.

It Takes Time to Be Prolific in Earned Media

This is why it’s hard to accept high-pressure, short-term earned media assignments.  With experience you learn that it can take time to be prolific in earned media on behalf of a client.

Prolific might be an overstatement, but SPRYTE is very proud of the broadcast brand it is building for our client Episcopal Community Services (ECS) and its RISE initiative.

In a recent SPRYTE Insights blog, we talked about the demands of writing a broadcast media advisory using our success with coverage of the December 11th RISE recognition ceremony as the example.

Now, SPRYTE is using coverage of the April 26th RISE initiative recognition ceremony as an example of how we are building the ECS RISE brand with TV assignment editors.

Not only did 6ABC come back to cover the next RISE recognition ceremony with two segments, including one on the 6 pm broadcast with voiceover by anchor Jim Gardner, but FOX 29 TV and NBC 10 also covered it.

This is the fourth ECS RISE graduation SPRYTE has supported.  When you help deliver good TV for their broadcast viewers the assignment desk remembers you.  That’s why SPRYTE likes to be engaged to build a client consistently and deliberately over time.

So, will the TV cameras show up for the next RISE graduation?  We can’t guarantee it but, based on recent experience, we will feel confident that it’s very likely, unless there’s breaking news, of course.

-Lisa Simon

Why the Media Loves Crossroads’ Gift of a Day

Positive Coverage Resonates

Leading the daily duck parade at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis in celebration of her 100th birthday.  A final fishing trip with a best friend to a favorite nearby lake.  A ride in a vintage WWII bomber like the one he flew in the war.  A roaring throaty road trip on a Harley.  These are all examples of Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care’s Gift of a Day patient program.

Inspired by the 2007 Jim Stovall book, The Ultimate Gift, the initiative is based on the idea of creating a very special, personalized day for patients receiving end of life care from Crossroads.  The gifts are created and implemented by caring teams of professionals that include social workers, chaplains, event planners and volunteers.

SPRYTE has been supporting the Gift of a Day program at Crossroads’ 11 locations in seven states for more than 10 years.  We may have 100 under our belt but two recent Crossroads Gifts of a Day reminded us how special and how fruitful, from a public relations perspective, the program is.

A Carriage Ride Around Liberty Park Lake

The first one was for Merry Schlobohm of Sedalia, Missouri.  Pulled by horses Red and Ted, Schlobohm was treated to a carriage ride around the lake in Sedalia’s Liberty Park in a donated antique English carriage with her husband, daughter, son and brother.  A life long horse lover, it was a chance for Merry to get up close and personal with the horses and spend a special day with her family.  The heartwarming gathering, with permission from the Schlobohms, was covered by the local daily newspaper, the Sedalia Democrat.  Actually, it was the cover story.

World War II Veteran Charles Leist of Springfield, Ohio, was the second recent memorable Gift of a Day.  On his 90th birthday, Ohio State Representative Rick Perales joined Leist’s friends and family to celebrate his milestone birthday and thank Leist for his military service long ago.  The small intimate gathering led to big earned media coverage, with two Dayton TV stations (WBDT and WRGT) running multiple segments throughout the weekend.

Many organizations would value this type of positive exposure if they could secure it.  Keep in mind, it doesn’t just happen because enterprising reporters are looking for good stories.  It starts with the initiative. Crossroads’ Gift of a Day is the there there.

Public Relations Reinforces a Competitive Advantage

And PR is just one of the disciplines in Crossroads’ multilayered, integrated marketing program.  Do you agree that earned media coverage of a Crossroads’ Gift of a Day shows rather than tells Crossroads’ point of differentiation as a hospice provider in an endearing and credible way?

So what is the value of this type of earned media?  Here are some top-level benefits Gift of a Day newspaper articles and TV segments deliver Crossroads:

  • A Positive Third-Party Endorsement of the Crossroads Brand
  • Prospective Patient Families Learn About Crossroads Through Gift of a Day Media Coverage
  • Earned Media Placements Delight Crossroads Patients and Their Families
  • Crossroads Professional Staff are Validated by External Exposure

We are always so impressed by the creativity displayed by the professionals who bring Gifts of a Day alive for Crossroads families.  It’s a pleasure to support the program each time SPRYTE is activated.  And when our efforts to entice the media don’t deliver earned media to Crossroads for a multitude of reasons?  We repurpose our pitch materials into Blogs for the Crossroads web site.

How Are You Celebrating Volunteer Week?

At SPRYTE, We’re Blogging

It would be hard to find anyone in the nonprofit arena who doesn’t know this week is National Volunteer Week. Our country’s tradition of service to others is truly something to be proud of and it dates back to Colonial Times, according to VolunteerMatch’s article “Volunteering: History of An American Value”.

Back in the day, on behalf of corporate social responsibility and nonprofit clients, we used to publicize outstanding volunteers and their good deeds and contributions to charities and society in local weekly newspapers during National Volunteer Week.

Does anyone remember the Ambler Gazette’s “Citizen of the Week?” column? Even daily newspapers used to have more real estate for feel good stories about people doing extraordinary selfless deeds for others.

We know those happy days are over. As SPRYTE survives a commoditized marketplace with less real estate for earned media placements, we’re increasingly suggesting that we put our outstanding interviewing and writing skills to work by contributing high-level, high-energy digital content to our clients.

Starting with last year’s National Volunteer Week, we suggested that our client Episcopal Community Services (ECS) showcase a different volunteer (Rosalie RudegeairMary Kate FahyAmy Coburn, Avyanne Osbourne, Josh Bartek) for each business day of the week, five in total on their Blog.

The assignment was delightful on a number of levels:

It was an honor to represent ECS and its fine programs.

  • It was engaging to hear firsthand, on behalf of our client, why their volunteers do what they do and what they gain from it.
  • We had the opportunity to learn about our client and their professional team from a different voice.
  • We implemented a successful, valued tactic that wasn’t earned media.

As SPRYTE progresses with digital communications, we welcome the opportunity to flex our writing muscle on behalf of clients. And if we ever uncover a kernel of an idea that has high earned media potential in our quest to create content, you can rest assured we will escalate it and ask permission to reach out to the media to win coverage every time.