All Aboard the Media Tour

A Favorite Tactic to Consider

Have you ever been on a Media Tour? The Media Tour is one of SPRYTE’s favorite earned media tools. Why? Because Media Tours can be incredibly results-oriented, especially for healthcare and social service providers.

So, what exactly is a Media Tour? A Media Tour is one or more informal meetings with relevant media. Media Tours can be targeted to hyperlocal grassroots outlets, regional broadcast news stations, trade publications and/or national consumer and business media targets. SPRYTE has conducted Media Tours to all types of media.

We suggest and implement Media Tours on behalf of our clients because SPRYTE is engaged to deliver meaningful earned media results. It’s our job!

Here are examples of three Media Tours SPRYTE recommended and conducted recently on behalf of healthcare and social service providers:

CEO Consumer Media Tour to 11 Site Markets

In a series of two-day Media Tours with up to seven meetings per Tour, SPRYTE introduced the Founder and CEO of an entrepreneurial healthcare provider to consumer and business reporters and television news producers in 11 major cities. Many of the meetings immediately led to consumer stories. Best of all, open lines of communications were established for future story pitches and event coverage.

Social Service Agency Executive Director Visits the Business Journal

After introducing the “Head Coach” and Executive Director of a large social service agency to the Executive Editor of the Philadelphia Business Journal, a productive partnership was born. Both were extremely interested in how businesses can help individuals step up and out of poverty. The Journal became a media sponsor of the charity’s annual social justice thought leadership day and a commitment by the Journal to run four op-eds per year by the charity’s Executive Director was made.

Building Interest in an International Conference Coming to Town

To build interest in a global association’s international conference taking place in Philadelphia, its CEO, who had once been a local Congressman, came to town six weeks in advance of the Conference for a Media Tour. All major business and consumer media outlets in the Region agreed to meet with the CEO as part of the Media Tour. Detailed feature stories about his industry in advance of the Conference resulted and that was the goal. Mission accomplished!

Here are some reasons you may want to consider a Media Tour for your organization:

  • Face-to-Face Meetings are always better than pitch letters and phone calls when you’re establishing relationships and open lines of communication with the media.
  • Media Tours provide an opportunity for a spokesperson to relay key messages to the media to see which ones resonate and are considered newsworthy.
  • Reporters and producers have a chance to share with you what angles they’re interested in immediately and in the future.

It’s always a challenge scheduling large blocks of time outside of the office. And meeting with reporters and producers can be intimidating, especially for the inexperienced. But, in our realm as earned media experts, there’s no more productive tried and true tactic than the Media Tour. SPRYTE welcomes the opportunity to help you with your Media Tour, whether your “news” is evergreen or breaking. It could be well worth your while.

– Lisa Simon

Addressing Racial Microaggressions in Business

Effective Communication is Needed for Inclusion in the Workplace

“Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

Does this sound familiar? The concepts of otherness and not belonging were prominent politically this month in America, which has led me to think about microaggression in business, as well.

The quote above came from The Philadelphia Tribune correspondent Avery Young’s coverage of Dr. Derald Wing Sue’s keynote presentation, “Disarming Racial Microaggressions: Microintervention Strategies for People of Color, White Allies and Bystanders” at our client Episcopal Community Services’ (ECS) Forum on Opportunity and Justice (FOJO) last October.

Dr. Sue, a professor of psychology and education in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, dissected microaggression at the annual gathering that addresses perspectives on poverty, power and oppression. He is a pioneer in the field of multicultural psychology, microaggression theory, psychology of racial dialogues, multicultural counseling and therapy and the psychology of racism and anti-racism.

Additionally, Dr. Sue is the author of Overcoming our Racism: The Journey to Liberation (2003) – a book that confronts white Americans in regard to privilege, inherent biases and unintentional oppression of persons of color.

So, what reminded me of Dr. Sue’s keynote and microaggression recently? A meeting I attended at the new Comcast Technology Center as a member of a three-state regional host committee for a global life sciences conference coming to Philadelphia in June.

Our Comcast host was a dynamic, young Asian gentleman. It was when the meeting chair recognized him that I thought about microaggression. His introduction was the classic scenario where one attempts to pronounce another person’s name correctly but ends up butchering it, and subsequently laughs it off.

Like the majority of these situations, there was no malicious intent. Learning how to say someone’s name correctly can be tricky! However, having one’s last name mispronounced and shrugged off repeatedly can cause the person to feel different than and separated from the people surrounding them.

As with all matters of conduct in business, I’m very sensitive. Hello! I’ve been a public relations counselor for a very long time. What struck me is that despite my experience and insight on microaggression I’ve gained from ECS, I didn’t discuss the situation with the host after the meeting. Because I know the host very well, and that the mispronunciation was truly an innocent mistake, I let it go instead of addressing it.

“Our studies indicate that when a racist comment or action occurs, most of the people around remain silent,” Dr. Sue said in his keynote presentation. After doing some thinking, I realized that (other than this blog) I guess I was one of them. Since then, I’ve vowed to change that – starting by talking about microaggressions with my husband before he led a program where he was going to be charged with reading a long list of multicultural names.

Additionally, I’m looking forward to working with ECS as they gear up for FOJO 2019, scheduled for October 24. Open to the public, the Forum provides attendees with important tools to engage with the intermingling issues inherent in poverty and initiate practical efforts to improve policy and practice.

Cultural competency is a hallmark of ECS’ incredible work. That’s what I love about our business – we get to be inspired by the organizations we support and learn things that are truly worth knowing, like how microaggression can hinder our efforts to be one country for all. – Lisa Simon

Retaining Medical Practice Talent

Healthcare Providers:  Show Employees Your Appreciation

Last month SPRYTE Business Development Director Margye Solomon attended the Pennsylvania MGMA’s Healthcare Leaders Summit, “Leading Beyond Limits” in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania MGMA is a local chapter of the MGMA (Medical Group Management Association.MGMA’s mission is “to empower practices, providers, and patients to create meaningful change in healthcare.”

More and more SPRYTE is supporting large, multi-location independent physician practices.  Margye got to learn all about their pain points at the Pennsylvania MGMA Healthcare Leader’s Summit.  Can you imagine what was at the top of the list of pain points?  Recruiting and retaining talent.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent is a Top Pain Point

With a tight labor market and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, retention may be even more challenging than recruiting.  Now, every employee has options never before imagined.

Retaining employees was a topic covered in the Conference Keynote Session, delivered by Leadership Expert Dr. Mary Kelly, a retired US Navy intelligence and logistics officer who spoke on “Leadership Prescriptions to Soar in 2019.”

Dr. Kelly asked the conferees three questions:

  1. Have you ever wished that everyone would come to work focused and ready to perform?
  2. Would you like your team to work more efficiently so you can leave the office earlier?
  3. Do you want to know how to motivate your top talent, including physicians, so they are more productive?

In her Blog, “Do Your Leaders take People for Granted,”  Dr. Kelly recaps the story of a longtime top employee at a medical practice whose exit shocks her manager.

The employee said, “I love my job and I love what I got to do. But I felt that the people around me didn’t even see me anymore. I felt like I was part of the furniture. I felt that they just assumed I would always be there to do everything I always handled. I stopped feeling appreciated years ago, but now I feel ignored. So, I am going to find another job.”  Just being there year after year without evolving wasn’t enough for this individual and there are many people like this employed at independent medical practices everywhere.

The 5-Minute Appreciation Plan

As part of her Keynote Session, Dr. Kelly took attendees through “The 5-Minute Goal Setting Plan,” designed to help practice managers grow in all aspects of business leadership and management.

One segment of the talk focused on “The 5-Minute Appreciation Plan.”

Dr. Kelly says, “When thanking people, please remember to show appreciation for a specific action, in a way that resonates with the recipient, and in a manner that doesn’t come at the expense of others.”  She shared 20 ways you can show appreciation to teammates, and employees.  Here are SPRYTE’s three favorites:

  • Thank the person who alerts you to a problem.  You cannot fix it if you don’t know about it.
  • Create a thank you white board or cork board, where people can publicly thank others for a specific action.
  • Encourage mental-health afternoons, where people are encouraged to get away from the office and do something fun and different.

According to Dr. Kelly, “If you are a manager or leader who wants to create a place where employees love to come to work, then you know that your employees want you to hear their ideas, understand their perspective and help them overcome organizational obstacles,”

Any commercial branding expert will tell you that employees are your number one brand ambassadors and that they have exponential potential to help you build a positive reputation for your practice in the community. These days you have to be more creative to keep employees.  It might start with showing more appreciation but, there are many ways employees can be developed and engaged.

SPRYTE Communications has a depth of experience in employee communications and engagement programs. Our SPRYTE team appreciated how Dr. Kelly broke down the topic for medical practice managers.  Now Margye is getting ready to represent SPRYTE at the New Jersey MGMA Practice Management Conference 2019, “Practice Management Roundup” in Atlantic City, New Jersey the first week of June.

We welcome the opportunity to chat with practice managers in need of communications support before then.

Just reach out to Margye:  msolomon@sprytecom.com 215.545.4715 x28

Building Strong Internal Support Strategies

Engaged Employees are Happier

The New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCO)’s April healthcare communications webinar focused on keeping employees engaged with targeted, streamlined internal communications.

Employees that are connected to their leadership provide better patient care, and healthcare communicators should strive to set tones that resonate with every doctor, nurse, administrator, and staff member.

Establish Trust with Your Audience

Actionable internal communications start by articulating a mission and generating a vision, i.e., being your patients’ choice for the most coordinated and personalized care.

The first step is to establish trust with your audience. Rather than using a corporate voice, it should be more relatable. Healthcare organizations have diverse workforces that may be working in many different locations, so messages should also be localized, yet integrated.

What Do Employees Want to Know?

The webinar presenter used surveys to learn more about what resonates with employees, with some surprising answers. Number one was employee benefits, followed by job-related information, including how to fill out specific forms. Employees also wanted to know about short and long-term company strategies and leadership announcements.

Most employees get their information from emails and speaking with managers in small groups (huddles); old school methods like leaving flyers in cafeterias or mailboxes are no longer relevant. Emails work especially well when tailored for different employees.

One of the examples was a “Manager’s Minute” piece that contained:

  1. news
  2. action items
  3. links that provided guidance to help managers feel comfortable with complex topics.

These emails were especially useful for managers to prepare for employee huddles. They are now seen as trusted communicators who share valuable knowledge that benefits employees.

Really, Who Has Time to Read?

Today’s employee newsletters drive their points home when they have:

  1. Less text
  2. More pictures
  3. Useful links
  4. Relevant content

Employees may not always have time to read, so the messages should be bright and accessible, focusing on things they care about. Details about employee discounts, hyper-local information, financial wellness, even healthy recipes and desk exercises may align with their interests.

Digital signs are another useful tool that can integrate messages, videos, and other internal communications. The webinar presenter discussed the company’s TV show, which is shown on their digital signage. A “Patient Experience Week” segment highlighted emotional patient success stories, volunteer work, and employee awards. Employees are encouraged to share these experiences responsibly, following company social media policy. It is also important to keep this media in employee-facing areas, since it may not be geared for patient viewing.

The Value of Metrics

Metrics provide tactical guidance for healthcare communicators, and are integral to internal communications. These platforms can measure what percentages of employees open emails, and which are clicked through and read. This information can be broken down by the type of employee as well.  Results can then be compared to initial surveys, to see if they are in alignment. Interpreting metrics to tailor internal communications can streamline messages so that your employees will want to read them. Why?  Because it is content that they care about.

Getting Lost in Media Coverage

Reminder:  The Visual is Key

Years ago when I worked in house at a health system as a public affairs staff associate in one of my first jobs, I remember spending the whole day at the hospital with a television news camera crew.

They wanted all kinds of “medical” visuals.  Doctor and patient interactions.  Laboratories including vials of blood.  Nurses checking their charts.

When I saw the story later that evening on the news, the health system wasn’t even mentioned.  We weren’t part of the voice over and none of the footage was attributed to the health system.

I was too junior to be fuming but I knew something wasn’t right.  The producer just needed fresh b-roll for a story on health trends and she didn’t care how or where she acquired it.

While we may have perpetuated a reputation for being friendly and accommodating with that network, all that time spent with the crew and away from my desk did nothing for the health system’s brand.  We weren’t part of the story and we really didn’t even know how to make sure we were part of it.

 TV Stories are Short

It’s very easy to be cut or not included in broadcast media coverage, especially television news stories, which are short and less in depth than print stories.  You have to fight this deliberately because, in our experience at SPRYTE, it happens fairly often.

That was the case recently with a very special event SPRYTE was called on to publicize for a local health system client on very short notice.

Max Gordon, age 94 of Northeast Philadelphia, was to be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the Office of Strategic Services during WWII.

The ceremony was attended by State Representative Jared Solomon, an aide to Congressman Brendan Boyle and an aide to Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.

It took place at the long-term care facility where Gordon had recuperated after suffering a heart attack.  Once discharged and back home, Gordon received in home care from a physical therapist from our health system client.  So, you can see there were a lot of personalities and a minimum of three institutions involved.

SPRYTE rushed to interview Gordon’s wife Hilda to learn more about his military service and his long life and to prepare the Media Advisory.

The next day the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony took place.  The good news is that three television networks covered the ceremony and multiple broadcast stories ran.  There was also a feature story with photos in the Northeast Times, a local newsweekly. The media coverage shone a humble spotlight on a wonderful man’s service to our country decades ago.

The bad news is that, on their behalf, we did all the work to earn media coverage but our client wasn’t mentioned in any of the coverage.  The  value of the earned media placements was significant but not for our brand.

So how do you make sure your client or organization is part of the coverage?

The Visual is All Important

One word:  The visual.  Sometimes the only way in to the story is with the visual.  It can feel bold, but earned media pros must fall on our swords about visuals or, what transpired after Gordon’s ceremony is very likely.

So in retrospect, how could we have made sure our client was part of the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony story?  How about with a big banner congratulating Gordon, produced with our client’s logo and brand colors?  This simple prop would have made all that coverage ours.

You may have to fight two things to get that broadcast win with visuals when your client or organization is one of many at the party:

  1. You Have to Think Visually (In public relations, we’re traditionally more interested in words not pictures.)
  2. You May Have to Spend a Few Dollars on a Visual Prop (Even health systems with multimillion-dollar paid advertising budgets will balk when their PR team asks to spend $200 on a banner.)

Nonprofits tend to be very generous and it may not have even been noticed by our client that they weren’t part of all of Gordon’s media coverage.

But as experts who garner earned media on a daily basis for our clients, we do everything possible to make sure media coverage delivers brand visibility for our clients and that means they must be part of the story, especially if they’re funding the outreach.

Lisa Simon

Healthcare Letters to the Editor

A Consumer Earned Media Tactic to Consider

The Letter to the Editor is a consumer earned media tactic SPRYTE often recommends to our healthcare communications clients to great success.  We like them because they’re reader-contributed and the topics can be current or “evergreen.”  Newspapers typically publish several Letters to the Editor every day so there’s ample opportunity for placement.

Letters to the Editor are effective for healthcare providers for the following reasons:

Letters to the Editor Can:

  • Educate the public (or correct the record) about a specific health concern or issue.
  • Create and enhance brand recognition within a healthcare provider’s targeted geographic area.
  • Establish the healthcare provider as an authority on a specific health topic or issue.
  • Reinforce the healthcare provider’s reputation as a caring and concerned member of its local community.

Placing a Letter to the Editor hinges on several factors. While there’s always a drive to display your healthcare organization’s name prominently and positively, editors will reject letters that are too self-promotional.

Healthcare providers must be sure about what the newspapers’ readers will gain by reading the letter.

Two Questions the Letter to the Editor Writer Should Answer:

  1. How does my message contribute to the public good?
  2. What useful or compelling healthcare expertise can we share?

As with all earned media tactics, establish your goals first.  Your goals will shape the content of your Letter.  Here are some guidelines:

  • If your goal is to inform readers, make sure to include attributable facts and/or statistics.
  • If you want to thank or bring attention to a group, highlight the problem the group or individuals have helped to solve, and what they’ve accomplished.

Best Practices for Your Letter to the Editor Campaign

Here are some more tips from SPRYTE’s playbook for leveraging letter to the editor campaigns:

Avoid high-traffic times of year. Saluting mothers on Mothers Day or veterans on Veterans Day or Memorial Day will put your Letter in strong competition for space.  Instead, select less prominent recognition days, like an obscure anniversary, a lesser-known holiday or a milestone only your healthcare organization can claim.

Move fast. If you want to respond to an article the newspaper ran, or give your opinion on a newsworthy healthcare topic, waiting even a few days can make your Letter to the Editor stale. Don’t forget to reference the specific article in your Letter response.

Follow the rules. Most newspapers have specific guidelines for Letters to the Editor, read them and follow them. Words might be limited to 200 or even 150, so make every word count. Some publications require you to e-mail your Letter to a specific department or editor, and others have online submission forms. Submit in the prescribed format to give your Letter to the Editor the best chance of being placed.

Be available to Verify. Most newspapers have a Letter verification process to ensure validity.  Included might be a phone call or an e-mail to or from the Letter writer confirming contact information, city of residence and organization. Make sure the Letter to the Editor author is aware that he/she might be contacted or, might proactively have to call a number to verify the Letter.

Manage expectations. Even if you get a canned e-mail that says your Letter to the Editor is being considered, it still many not be placed for a variety of reasons including lack of space, competing, more timely topics, or a more insightful (or entertaining) Letter on the same subject. If your letter is more of an “evergreen” topic, it could run days or even weeks later, so keep monitoring for its placement.

Union-Snyder Agency on Aging Provided 31,552 Meals to Seniors

SPRYTE recently placed a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Item of Selinsgrove, Pa. on behalf of one of client Griswold Home Care’s Franchise Directors in North Central Pa.

The topic?  Recognition of a local charity that provides food to low income seniors.  The community agency was recently the recipient of Griswold Home Care’s Jean Griswold Foundation’s grantmaking program.

The Letter, signed by Franchise Director Andrew Hefflinger allowed Hefflinger to recognize an outstanding local partner while shining a spotlight on his leading local home care business as mutually interested in improving the lives and independence of the local senior citizenry.

Letters to the editor are a powerful tool in a healthcare communicator’s arsenal.  If used deliberately, they can build your reputation, influence public opinion and spur changes in behavior or opinion.

SPRYTE Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

Milestone Inspires a Special Punch made with Sprite

In celebration of SPRYTE Communications’ 2nd Anniversary last Thursday, January 31st, I posted an article on LinkedIn, my first.

In the spirit of repurposing, my article is this week’s SPRYTE Insights Blog.  You might have also seen the recipe for our 2nd Anniversary Punch on SPRYTE’s social media channels.  In case you were wondering, it was as delicious as our 1st Anniversary Punch.

A professional colleague asked me if I was having a two-year-old tantrum?  Of course, I am!  I own a healthcare public relations agency in 2019.  There’s nothing calm about it.

But the best part of being so young is how optimistic we feel.  And, as you can imagine, specializing in healthcare providers in one of America’s healthcare headquarters is stacking up to be a very good place to be.  – Lisa Simon

Do you work for an organization that has struggled with the best way to celebrate a milestone anniversary? It’s not uncommon to not know how much to budget, whether it’s more important to celebrate internally or externally or both or, my favorite, whether to look backward or forward. I say this from experience. Anniversaries have been key times for organizations to engage a PR firm or for agencies to perform the anniversary heavy lifting within an existing client relationship. We’ve supported and delighted in many client anniversaries over the years including:

Bristol Riverside Theater 5th
Cherry Hill Mall 50th
Children’s Seashore House 125th
City of Philadelphia Fairmount Water Works       200th
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care 20th
Drexel University School of Public Health 10th
Griswold Home Care 35th
Har Zion Temple 75th
HomeCare Associates 10th & 20th
Hotel Atop The Bellevue 90th
Kenneseth Israel 150th
Mt. Airy USA 30th
Office Basics 25th
Pearl Pressman Printers 100th
Robins’ Nest 45th
Rohm and Haas Bristol Plant 75th
VNA-Community Services 75th
VNA of Greater Philadelphia 125th
Willow Grove Park Mall 10th & 100th
Wistar Institute 100th
YMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity 150th

 

Our depth in anniversary celebrations was gained before our reinvention as SPRYTE Communications on January 31st 2017. I’m humbled by how many of these anniversary celebrations were for healthcare providers. It must have been an omen!

Part of being the new us is appropriateness. So, like organizations every where, even with all this anniversary experience, I struggled with how to celebrate SPRYTE’s second anniversary today. It means so much to me personally, as you can imagine, but you might be thinking, who cares? That’s not uncommon for the non celebrants. I won’t divulge all of our anniversary celebration details but I am sharing our 2nd Anniversary Punch Recipe, which we’ll be enjoying at lunch in a few hours.

Please join me today in toasting SPRYTE Communications’ second anniversary.

When Your Patients are Asian-American

Cultural Competency is Critical

Asian Americans come from more than 50 countries, speak more than 100 different languages, and belong to diverse ethnic groups, each with their own cultural values and healthcare needs.

The term Asian American encompasses a wide diversity of cultures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 5.6% of the U.S. population identifies as Asian or Asian American.

In their Blog Tips for Healthcare Communication with Asian-American Audiences MTM LinguaSoft, a language services company that specializes in helping healthcare providers communicate effectively with multilingual audiences wrote, “Many Asian Americans place a strong emphasis on family ties and interpersonal relationships. The family becomes a source of identity and guidance during times of crisis, and individuals are often expected to demonstrate self-control during difficult situations. Individualistic, disruptive behavior is discouraged.”

We appreciate MTM LinguaSoft’s Kristin Lynch guest blogging for SPRYTE Communications this week. Her Blog explains why healthcare providers should understand that Asian American families value group consensus when making important medical decisions and that respect is demonstrated differently in their cultures.

Cultural competency isn’t a new concept but it’s ever important as patients have more and more options and healthcare providers, who are judged by the “experiences” of their patients, compete in an increasingly diverse marketplace.

Read Kristin Lynch’s guest blog here.

Healthcare Providers: Is 2019 the Year
You Hire a Public Relations Agency?

Watch Your Positive Reputation Blossom

Perhaps you are a healthcare provider who’s been thinking about hiring a public relations (PR) agency in the new year.

For first timers, it can be a big step filled with mystery and the perpetual fear of wasting precious budget dollars.

Even experienced leaders who have bottom line responsibility for hiring professional services firms know that without a deliberate strategy and articulated desired outcomes, measuring success can be tricky or worse, murky.

The PESO Media Model

By now most professional communicators have had some exposure to the PESO media model – Paid. Earned. Shared. Owned.
You may be wondering which part of PESO is public relations?

The answer is all four, the P, the E, the S and the O, however, traditionally PR firms have focused on delivering earned media (what used to be referred to as publicity) and SPRYTE Communications is no exception. But as time goes on and we evolve with our industry, we welcome the blurring of the lines.

Here are Tactics SPRYTE would like to continue delivering to clients in 2019:

Healthcare Tactical Wish List

  • Email Marketing Campaigns
  • Blogs
  • Web Sites
  • Social Media Content and Management
  • Blogs

This is in addition to our legacy business of designing and implementing:

Legacy Business

      • Earned Media Strategies

If you engage a PR agency in 2019, you might be adding the following to your team:

Add Talent to Your Team

  • Experienced Practitioners Who Can Extend and Mentor Your Internal Team
  • Specialists at Winning Earned Media
  • Excellent Writers
  • Seasoned Project Managers
  • Connectors to a Wide Network

Does it sound too good to be true?  We don’t think so!

SPRYTE has added value to its engagements with healthcare providers because of these very attributes.

We look for partnership with our clients and working collaboratively toward organizational goals. We take full responsibility for the ideas we recommend and their implementation through to results.

As 2019 begins this week SPRYTE is ready for new challenges. We appreciate the opportunities that have come our way and we look forward to continued growth.

Spryte Communications