Posts tagged with ‘PR’

  • Fast Five with Mike Morrison: A Media Deluge, New Ways of Working, and “Amazing Gestures of Support”

    Mike Morrison of Massachusetts General Hospital

    Mike Morrison, Director of Media Relations for Massachusetts General Hospital, looks back on 2020 and managing through a pandemic.

    When did you know that MGH was facing a public health crisis?

    As of late December 2019, leaders from our Center for Disaster Medicine had been closely monitoring news from abroad, as well as updates from domestic and international agencies.  The hospital officially launched its Incident Command System at the end of January and ramped up the frequency of its meetings as the pandemic progressed.

    How has this crisis changed the way you work?

    Within the management structure, the Office of News and Public Affairs plays a key role in communicating crucial information. The big challenge for our department has been moving from working very much “in person” to working remotely. We have a team of 13 – 14 people who are very much used to working closely and collaboratively, so working remotely created some challenges at first.

    Also, with the volume of media requests, we’ve had to make sure that the same experts are not being approached by different staff from the same media outlet through different folks on our team. To that end, our department designated a kind of “air traffic controller” who is copied on relevant media requests, so she can provide a bird’s-eye-view of the situation.

    Our day-to-day staffing plan includes two members of our team in the office on a rotating basis to cover the phones and escort media, as needed, on campus. And as another change, since most media don’t want to come on campus, we had to quickly shift to Zoom interviews, which have to be coordinated.

    Have you had any special challenges?

    Especially during the height of the surge, we’ve been deluged with incoming media requests. We’ve needed to balance these with proactive communications around critical public health messages. We had nearly 1100 media placements between early March until the end of May.

    Our entire team has been just incredible. During the height of the initial spring surge, our colleagues went above and beyond to keep up with the hospital’s incredible communications needs. Every media request represented a huge opportunity to get important information to the public.

    We’ve also wanted to share stories about the amazing gestures of support from the Boston community. We’ve had offers of free parking for our staff and some very smart people with 3-D printers offering to create PPE. Also, people would just come by the hospital with donations of food, hand lotion, PPE, and other items.  We’ve responded on social media and on our website, and we continue to work hard to acknowledge and help coordinate all that support and goodwill.

    Were there any resources that particularly helped?

    While we always have worked closely with other departments, the hospital community has really pulled together. Our colleagues in Marketing have played a key role in helping to generate social media content, as well as a consistent look and feel for Covid-19 communications. Communicators in other departments, such as the Mass General Research Institute, have also volunteered to take on various writing and other projects to help in the effort. It’s really been “all-hands-on-deck,” and we’re fortunate to work in a place with that kind of culture.

    Has your focus changed over the year?

    At this point, as we gear up for what may be a second surge, we’re really keeping with the practices we began in the spring—but are getting better at it. Now, though, people want to talk about the vaccine, and we’re getting experts and materials ready to provide information.

    Also, we are working hard to get images and video to show staff in action and help with communication—and we’ve already captured thousands of images. And for this phase, we’re focusing even more on those photos and videos, both for public communication and also as a chronicle for MGH history.

  • Fast Five with Leah Lesser: Driving Public Information, Communicating the Human Experience, and Staying Focused in a Critical Role

    In Events, Fast Five, Thought Leaders on

    Leah Lesser of Emerson Hospital

    Leah Lesser, Marketing Communications Manager at Emerson Hospital in Concord, describes the focus of community hospital public relations and communications during COVID-19. “It’s been an intense year.”

    When did COVID-19 come “front and center” at Emerson Hospital?

    In early January, we began hearing the terms Coronavirus and COVID-19. On January 27, we issued our first public message about the virus, which was an infographic about symptoms and prevention. We didn’t know then that the virus would become a harrowing public health emergency.

    Looking back, it amazes me how much we have learned and has reinforced how essential communication is in a pandemic. It has also underscored for me as a communicator the impact of sharing the human experience – not just metrics and data and symptoms and protocols – but what people are actually experiencing in real life.

    What else did you start doing?

    When we shared the infographic, we also put signage up throughout the hospital, asking people to self-identify if they were sick and had traveled from China or Europe. The first week of March, our Emergency Department treated the third patient in the state who was positive. Other patients followed quickly from there. Communication has been non-stop since.

    Who do you focus on and how have you been communicating?

    Our primary audiences for COVID-19 communications have been:

    • Community/Public
    • Staff
    • Media, including Boston and local media (25+ weekly newspapers)
    • Donors and friends of Emerson

    We use various digital, social, e-mail, podcasts, videos, and other communications channels to reach these core audiences. We work hard to create content that is compelling and valuable for our community. One example is an article written with an allergist: Covid or Allergies? How to Tell. This article went viral on social with nearly two million page views. Another article we produced this summer after some colleagues became dog owners is: Pandemic Puppies: Health Tips for Their Humans.

    In the spring, we worked to garner messages of support from celebrities, including Chris Evans and Steve Carell. These messages boosted staff morale and helped the public know how hard our staff worked to care for patients.

    Proactive media relations resulted in more than 100 feature stories in the first six months of the pandemic. In a typical six-month period, Emerson receives approximately 20 feature stories.

    Looking ahead, where are you focused?

    Right now, we are focused on communications about the vaccines. We are working on TV features about our Surgical Weight Loss program and other proactive media opportunities. Looking further ahead, we are preparing to launch new marketing campaigns to promote priority service lines while staying focused on communications about the pandemic.

    How has the year impacted you as a communicator?

    I have always been amazed by our front-line staff, including our nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, social workers, and others who care for patients. This year I was awed by their heroism.

    Also, going through a pandemic as a health care communicator has made me appreciate the benefits of working with a nimble marketing team to understand the human experience and get information out quickly.  And due in large part to the pandemic, people all over the hospital and the community have recognized the value of communications. Our team is busier now than ever.

    It has been an intensely non-stop year, yet a year that makes me very proud of our hospital and grateful to be part of it. We are ready for 2021!

     

  • Fast Five with Ellen Berlin: Supporting Key Audiences, Staying Focused, and Communicating Beyond Covid-19

    Ellen Berlin of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

    Ellen Berlin, Director of Media Relations for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discussed the challenges of communicating for a specialty hospital during 2020.

    How was Dana-Farber impacted by the pandemic?

    Most of our work at Dana-Farber involves providing treatment for cancer on an outpatient basis. Patients desperately want treatment, but particularly early in the pandemic, some were afraid to come in since they were already dealing with a compromised immune system. And early in 2020, there was a lot we didn’t know.

    Also, as of last March, many employees needed to work off site, which was a new way of working, and they needed information and support. And Dana-Farber also had to keep research work going despite the restrictions.

    How has this crisis changed the way you work in media relations?

    We have a small media relations department—eight people—and early on it was hard because we were managing with many unknowns, and we were scared. But we adapted and have stayed focused on two important areas: providing patient information and managing the reputation of the institute.

    Initially, it felt like crisis communication, and it went on for weeks. We responded to inquiries, such as: how were we continuing to treat patients and how were we keeping the hospital safe? And we communicated about changes in fundraising events from in-person to virtual.

    Have you had any special challenges?

    From a media-relations perspective, our biggest challenge has been getting attention on cancer treatment and research in the midst of the pandemic. We continue to push out a lot of information, but we know it needs to be particularly relevant to get media coverage. Fortunately, we have been very adept at pitching stories that reporters are interested in. We use a wide variety of media—social, mainstream, and trade publications—and we communicate through our website and blogs and videos.

    Also, a big challenge has been internal communication, and while we have a separate team working on that, the media staff contributes to it. For most employees, this has been their first experience working remotely.

    In addition, the timeframe to return to work has kept changing; first we were coming back in June, then September, and now in June of 2021. The media team has been fortunate because we were already working remotely one day a week, so it was not totally new for us.

    What kind of programs were put in place internally?

    Internally we support colleagues who produce bi-weekly Zoom forums for thousands of staff members. They use them to answer employee questions and share information about patient care, administrative issues, and well-being tools. Also, we’ve contributed content for the intranet. Now, focus has turned to the vaccines and the process for how they will be rolled out for staff and then patients.  It’s very complex.

    We also now have a manager’s forum and an “all-staff” email three times a week. The email covers developments related to Covid-19, summary information from the bi-weekly forum, and other items.

    What are your thoughts as you look back on the year?

    When I look back, I think OMG; it’s a miracle that despite what we have lived through, we’ve all been able to continue to do our jobs and contribute to this important work of cancer care. It’s such a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the people here.

    Our colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s where patients receive inpatient care also were there with support, and we are so grateful to them. We have all stayed focused and have pulled together—but It’s been quite a year!

  • Fast Five: Tweeting from the Train

    In Crisis, Events, Fast Five, News, Social Media on

    Lauren Armstrong has been a Public Information Officer at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority since June 2014. A passion for helping others motivates her to provide the best customer service to those who ride the T. Communicating via social media, managing mbta.com, and tracking operational performance data, is a glimpse into her day.   @MBTA

    We caught up with Lauren in advance of the Social Media Summit to talk about how the T uses social media and what she looks forward to most about the summit.

    Q. What role can social media play in a crisis?

    I think social media is one of the most powerful, and sometimes underestimated, communication tools available. It can be used to interact directly with stakeholders during a crisis, answer their questions/concerns and provide accurate and timely information.

    Q.How does the MBTA use social media to communicate with its audiences?

    Our use of social media is two-fold. Firstly, we use it to announce service delays/disruptions, news/updates, media stories and important reminders. Secondly, we use it as a tool to engage one-on-one with riders. We can answer their questions, resolve their complaints and pass along the much-appreciated operator shout-outs that we receive.

    Q.Can you give an example of how you may have effectively managed social media during a crisis in the past?

    Winter 2014/2015 was an opportunity to announce service schedules and updates to answer questions like, “What kind of service will be running tomorrow?” “Is my bus on snow route?” or “Will my commuter rail train be cancelled?” But it also gave us a few opportunities to highlight the work being done by MBTA employees to keep platforms and bus stops clear of snow and ice.

    Q. How can organizations use the vast amount of data available from social media and website traffic to spot and address potential crisis situations?

    Organizations can use data available to get ahead of a potential crisis. For example, when our web team spots a high increase in traffic to our winter service updates page, we make the decision to redirect our homepage right to our winter page. That way, customers get the exact information they’re looking for and don’t have to spend time looking around for it.

    Q. What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?

    I’m excited to connect with other leaders in the social media industry, and am looking forward to sharing what we do at the MBTA.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics (https://prsaboston.org/hot-topics/) blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, authors’ books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com (mailto:josh@joshuamilnepr.com) and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

     

  • Meet the Board: PRSA Boston Past President Dan Dent, APR

    In APR, Career, PRSA Member Feed on

    Blog-author_dent

    Who is Dan Dent?

    My story began in Chicago, where I grew up, enjoyed life as a Cubs-Bears-Bulls fan, married my lovely wife, Sarah, and then started my career in PR. Now I’m in Boston, with a family of five, loads of experience in B2B technology PR, including two stints on my own, and a great year ahead of me as president of PRSA Boston. When I’m not running the occasional half marathon, I ply my trade at Draper, surely one of the grandees of the technology and engineering industry in Cambridge, or anywhere.

    You’ve been a PRSA member since 1996 and a board member since 2010. What is your focus for 2017?

    PRSA is unlike any other professional organization in that we are all about the member experience at every stage, and that goes for college students through career professionals to retirees. Even well intentioned professional societies find themselves serving the large middle of their membership, and undeserving so many others. PRSA is different in that we see value in connecting people at every stage. My focus for 2017 will be along those lines: celebrating and enhancing the member experience.

    Why are you involved in PRSA and what has it meant for your career?

    In my career, I’ve had the privilege of working in PR agencies, corporations, non-profits and on my own. At every turn, PRSA was there when I needed a resource or smart colleague to help me set my course. At the end of the day, we are all in a client service business, and that means you need great ideas, great execution and great relationship building skills. I’ve learned all those things at PRSA.

    What is your recommendations for those considering PRSA membership?

    Start with meeting our members. There’s quite a variety, and a million reasons people join PRSA. Some come for the networking, others for professional development, and still others want to explore career options with a trusted community. Over the years, I’ve received job leads, new business leads, advice about client management and creative programs. You can attend a PRSA meeting even if you aren’t a member – that’s a great way to start.

    When you’re not involved with PRSA Boston or doing your full-time PR gig, what do you do?

    I’m a coach for girls lacrosse, a board member for our town lacrosse team, an active member and communications contributor at our church, and the go-to guy for all things related to our golden retriever, Maisy.

    Tell us something not many people know about you (Don’t worry, we’ll keep it a secret?)

    I once spent a season backpacking alone in Europe, where I discovered you can live on very little money, very few clothes and scant local knowledge as long as you can build rapport with strangers and make them your friends.

     

  • Cheryl Gale Client Messaging

    Fast 5: Q&A with March Communications’ Managing Director Cheryl Gale

    In Campaign, Marketing on
    1. What makes for an effective client message? How do you, or the client, know when it’s time to update it?

    It needs to stand out, it needs to be different and, most importantly, it needs to be simple. Too many companies try to cram in everything that they do, or they load it with too much jargon. That doesn’t work.

    As for when to update your message, I would say there are a few catalysts. I think the most important one is if people’s eyes gloss over when you give them your elevator pitch, and then they say, “oh that’s great,” and change the subject. Or, they ask you to explain it again and again. You want to make sure the message resonates with your target audience. Are you hitting their triggers or pain points? Do they want to hear more?

    There are many other catalysts though. Often a new CMO joins the company and they want to change up the message. Or maybe they’re refreshing their website. An acquisition is another big one.

    1. What are a couple examples of a message done right?

    One that we did for Relayware, a partner relationship management SaaS provider: “Companies that rely on their partner networks for revenue growth use Relayware. Our software and services provide valuable insights, bring you closer to your partners, provide visibility into their effectiveness, improve their training and empowers them to reach their potential.”

    This clearly outlines who the target audience is, identifies the needs of those audiences and positions Relayware as the one who can fulfill those needs – all without any kind of jargon (for instance, not one mention of partner relationship management solutions or PRM), and in just two sentences.

    1. Do you find that most clients are eager to revamp their messaging? Or do you think more need to be talked into doing it, and why?
      Most are very eager, but they also know the process isn’t easy. Our job is to help our clients reach a consensus and cut through to a clear message, and make it as painless as possible.

     

    1. What do you think other PR pros need to know about client messaging in order to ensure they’re getting the most out of these sessions? What are some best practices that you think others might not be aware of?
      Get the right people in the room, but keep it small. Too many cooks in the kitchen means there’s less of a focus. The right people tend to represent the sales efforts/team (VP of Sales), the customer’s challenges and pain points (VP of Customer Success), the go-to-market strategy (CMO/VP of Marketing and/or Corporate Comms VP) and the product itself (CTO or other product-focused manager).The next step is to break it down into two half-day sessions. The first one is spent on brainstorming ideas, phrases and words in the context of specific questions around benefits and target markets. The second session should focus on testing the message(s).

    Make sure you test the message externally, too. Go to a few customer friendlies as well as industry analysts.

    And, finally, make sure that those involved have fun, are open minded and feel like they’re getting something of value out of the sessions.

     

    1. Do you have any unique tactics to help pick your clients’ brains in these message sessions? Something that helps get the ball rolling and the creative juices flowing?
      Start with a brain teaser, to get everyone relaxed and feeling open minded. Write down ideas onto sticky notes and post them on the walls – it’s a fun and interactive way of keeping everyone engaged. Ask the difficult questions and participate so they can know where your thoughts are going in terms of their message.

     

    About Cheryl Gale

    Cheryl started a 20-year, international career in PR and communications over on the other side of the pond, where she helped shepherd two agency transformations in the United Kingdom: the opening of The Weber Group’s (now Weber Shandwick) London offices and the creation of Band & Brown’s technology division. She cultivated an extensive background in international PR experience, but perhaps the ultimate takeaway from her time in the U.K. was the value of defining her own PR mission statement – and taking the reins herself in driving that forward.

    That’s why, when Cheryl relocated back to the U.S. 12 years ago, she co-founded March Communications on a simple but essential principle: helping innovative technology brands, both in the U.S. and abroad, to stay a step ahead of the curve by creating lasting momentum and aligned marketing communications programs. To do that, Cheryl has assembled an eclectic group of energetic, creative and intelligent people at March with a shared passion for pushing the envelope in how to effectively market U.S. and international tech brands, and leverage cutting-edge solutions for maximum exposure.

    In addition to her role as Managing Director at March, Cheryl also seeks out and embraces every mentor and advisory opportunity outside of the office. She currently serves as the President-Elect of the Publicity Club of New England, and sits on various PR panels at Boston University and Emerson College, where she shares her ideals of what makes for exciting PR to inspire a new generation of rising young professionals with their eye on the tech PR world.

    About FAST 5

    This is an interview feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization.