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

Different Cultures Understand Medicine Differently

Relevancy Builds Trust

In this week’s guest blog “Multilingual Patient Information Guides:  Living Beyond Cancer,” MTM LinguaSoft’s Jen Horner explains “Different cultures understand illness and medicine differently, presenting information in culturally relevant terms is essential for establishing trust and comprehension.”

Connecting people to trusted breast cancer information and a community of support, ensuring no one impacted by breast cancer feels uninformed or alone is the mission of Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC,) a nonprofit organization.

LBBC  engaged MTM LinguaSoft to translate its information guide for newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer patients into Chinese, French, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

“We could not take for granted that the patients were familiar with US healthcare jargon,” Horner says.  “We drew on our network for bilingual, bi-cultural experts on women’s health in immigrant communities.  Each consultant reviewed the English source text and recommended changes to make it more relevant.”

Click to read Jen Horner’s article.

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.

Volunteers Want to Know Their Time is Valued

Don’t Overlook a Simple Thank You

April is National Volunteer Month and this year SPRYTE had the opportunity to interview amazing volunteers and spend hours writing blogs about them for our clients.

The majority of generous souls we talked to volunteered as companions to seniors.  Their dedication and compassion are humbling.  And, the amount of time they contribute and that they actually have to contribute, is substantial.

Unknowing organizations are too often shocked to know that many wonderful volunteers resign because of their interactions with professional staff and other volunteers.

Taking Advantage of a Volunteer’s Generosity

My own Mom abruptly quit her volunteer job a few months ago with no notice.

She was making an incredible weekly contribution to a respite program for spouses at her continuing care retirement community.  For two hours once a week, she led afternoon activities for a small group of elderly women suffering from dementia. Their husbands would drop them off for five hours total, which included lunch.

After lunch is when the fun began.  My Mom put a lot of creativity and planning time in to the sessions and the feedback all around was stellar.  The participants were fully engaged and the stretched-thin staff social worker was thrilled.  She got a lot of positive feedback.

But one day she accompanied the group to a musical program in a different location on the campus and a staffer ordered her to take one of the participants to the Ladies room.  That one simple, inappropriate request was a trigger.  It crossed the line.  Without belaboring it, my Mom resigned from the program.  What a loss to the participants. Instead of being engaged in well thought out group cognitive activities, their time will be more custodial until a new resource is found.

My Dad is quitting his volunteer job at the continuing care retirement community too.  A retired PhD think tank economist, he has volunteered for the IRS at tax time for nearly 20 years.  He helps seniors file their tax returns.

Apparently, the foreman at his volunteer location is a miserable bully.  He barks out people’s last names and requires the volunteer to trot up to his throne when called.  My Dad finds it demeaning and distracting when he’s trying to complete as many returns as possible for the helpless seniors.

Tax Day Was His Last Day

Anyway, the week before last my Dad was in the community bank branch as was the IRS volunteer foreman.  The gentleman ignored my Dad, he didn’t say hello, there wasn’t any gesture of recognition.  My Dad stuck it out through Tax Day but now he’s quitting because the volunteer environment is so toxic and besides a horrible volunteer boss, no one has ever thanked him.

SPRYTE’s Operations Manager Steve Ehrlich, a prolific volunteer photographer, said “Volunteers need to be thanked.  Volunteers do not work for money. They work because they believe in the cause.”

Steve shoots loads of community and charitable events.  He reminisced, “I just recently photographed a major event. I delivered the finished photos very quickly (event was Sunday night, photos delivered late Monday night.)  I did not get a thank you reply to my email.  I did get recognition in the program and my photos were posted on Facebook with a credit, I just did not get a personal thank you.”

Steve summed it up, “Most volunteers want to know that their work is appreciated after they have completed it.”

This is a good time to remember how the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines public relations in 2019:

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Non profit organizations and other industries like hospice that engage volunteers must remember that volunteers are an important public.  Their experience can contribute greatly to an organization’s reputation in the marketplace.  Many volunteers who contribute their time also contribute money to the causes they love.  Do you agree?  Volunteers’ experiences must be as positive as possible.  Anything less has potential to reflect poorly upon the organization.

-Lisa Simon.

 

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.

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

Your Blog Could Easily be an OpEd

Repurposing Strong Content Yields Additional Results

Doesn’t it seem like everyone has a Blog these days?  If not, we should because by now we know that content rules.  Content is also what drives thought leadership earned media strategies.

Many Blogs are well-written and present provocative, timely ideas.  These Blogs can be repurposed as OpEds and placed in print media including newspapers, online e publications and trade magazines.

SPRYTE client David Griffith, Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services, regularly blogs on his LinkedIn Blog Site Muddy Boots.

A blog Griffith posted in January was repurposed and placed in this week’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

It is the first OpEd in an ongoing series, “Poverty:  Finding Solutions in The Business Community.”  Griffith’s opinion article also introduces a highly-anticipated brand new Episcopal Community Services workforce development program, MindSet, “based on the most current brain science available that provides coaching and financial assistance to help individuals navigate the system and access opportunity that many of us take for granted.”

As the first cohort of MindSet reaches the mid-point of the first phase of the program, Griffith will continue to use his voice as a blogger and social services thought leader to encourage the business community to create the jobs that pull individuals out of poverty.  The readers of the Philadelphia Business Journal are an excellent audience for his platform.

Recognizing the Wonderful Work of Caregivers Each February

National Caregivers Day recognizes the wonderful work of caregivers who tirelessly give of themselves for others.

Last Friday, National Caregivers Day was observed, as it has been, on the third Friday in February, since it was created just four years ago in 2015 by the Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies.

SPRYTE was lucky to be introduced and retained by a wonderful national home care company, Griswold Home Care, by mentor and friend of the agency Lonny Strum. He’s our guest blogger this week. Lonny’s blog in appreciation of caregivers is very personal but it also sheds light on the huge numbers of individuals receiving care in our country.

Read Lonny Stum’s Blog here.

Spryte Communications