Tag Archives: agile engagement

3 Imperatives for Healthcare Communicators Managing Industry Change (& Lessons for the Rest of Us)

Keynote speaker Paul Matsen of Cleveland Clinic.

Keynote speaker Paul Matsen of Cleveland Clinic.

The sold-out Future of Healthcare Communications Summit held last week in New York and jointly hosted by PR Newswire and the Business Development Institute focused on the major challenges posed by the Affordable Care Act to American healthcare providers.  According to Ray Kerins (@RayKerins), senior vice president and head of communications & public affairs at Bayer Corporation, the healthcare industry currently suffers from a lack of open dialogue and major distrust amongst patients towards healthcare systems. Three major recurring themes throughout the summit offered inventive solutions for mending fragmented relationships between healthcare providers and their patients:

1.       Reform negative public opinion toward healthcare systems

A troubling observation presented by Kerins showed that none of the top ten companies on Forbes’ 2013 List of the World’s Most Admired Companies is a healthcare provider. Kerins believes that in order for healthcare communicators to “recapture the brilliance of the industry,” they must re-examine mistakes made in the past to avoid repetition and engage with stakeholders.

Paul Matsen (@pgmat), chief marketing and communications officer at Cleveland Clinic, discussed five marketing strategies executed at Cleveland Clinic to help transform negative public opinion. While the clinic upheld a legacy as a prominent referral center, it was widely perceived as being inaccessible. In addition to the “Same-Day Appointments” program, Cleveland Clinic differentiates itself by helping physicians patent their intellectual property to build start-up companies and form alliances. Through access, alliances, targeting, engagement, and a branded patient experience, Cleveland Clinic was re-established as a leader in world class care. 

2.       Create content for multiple channels

David Blair (@drblair1), head of industry for health at Google, reported that

David Blair of Google delivered a look into the future of healthcare technology.

David Blair of Google delivered a look into the future of healthcare technology.

90% of all consumption is screen based, with 77% of consumers relying on screen technologies for health information. In fact, an astounding 7 billion searches on Google are specific to health conditions. According to Blair, the proliferation of screens has empowered patients, creating a need for branded experiences within multiple contexts. “We live in a constantly connected world of moments,” he explains, “Think of your brand message as liquid content; you want to flow to every device at any time.” A fascinating adoption of multi-channel health content occurred this year when UCLA live-tweeted a brain surgery for the first time using Twitter’s vine app.

Monique Levy (@monlevy), vice president of research at Manhattan Research, supports the notion of multi-format engagement. A Manhattan Research study concluded that the amount of time consumers spend searching for material depends on the type of device being used. While smartphones supply “quick hit information,” tablets and desktops are used for “lean back learning.” The results emphasize a need for appropriately formatted content for each type of communications device.


3. Personalize engagement with customers 

While some consider press releases to be old-fashioned, they are still regarded as a highly dependable source of information. Gil Bashe (@Gil_Bashe), EVP and health practice director at Makovsky, refers to a Makovsky-Kelton Health Info Study which found that company press releases have higher trust amongst patients than company websites or social media.

Mike Slone (@MikeSlone17), design director at Eliza Corporation, believes that disengaging marketing tactics like charts and brochures have steered patients away from building trust with healthcare providers. Instead, Eliza Corporation developed a vulnerability index (VI) which uses survey data to quantify the impact of everyday stress factors. A high VI score indicates an increased risk of developing health issues likes diabetes, depression, and heart disease. To promote healthy living, ad campaigns address daily anxieties with humor, such as “Exercise to Avoid Punching Your Boss in the Face.” Slone says that health communication is “not just about health, but about the quality of life you live.”

There’s no question the Affordable Care Act is changing access to and the delivery of health care in the US, and represents a sea-change for the industry.  The imperative for communicators as they navigate these changes is clear – brands and organizations must both listen and speak to their audiences.  Messaging needs to address the questions and concerns of the constituents, not paper them over with brochures.   The common thread in the advice from the speakers was the focus on the audience, a good guide for any marketing or PR professional steering message strategy through uncertain waters.

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team. 

Data: The New Creative

What do you think of when you think CES? Gadgets, TVs, Cameras? Most of us do, but the panel assembled for the session on Contextual Media & Advertising was here to discuss the “now what?” of technology.

We have all of these screens, devices, and channels but how do we serve up what the audience wants? It became clear that these devices are giving communicators two things: a place to talk to us and a place to learn about us. Where we are, what we are doing, what price point is the threshold for an impulse purchase, what are we doing after we are served relevant content?

Harnessing that data to accurately communicate and serve up relevant and timely content is the holy grail. According to this panel, we are getting there, but haven’t cracked that code. We are no longer looking at the data as “good to know” historical information, but we are looking at that data to assist in more accurately guessing what comes next.

On a panel that was mostly media or media adjacent companies, there was a lone soldier of the “traditional” in Ellis Burgoyne, Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of the United States Postal Service.

It is with Burgoyne that I think the disruptive use of data in a creative way was most exemplified. He spoke of a world where the USPS could tell you what is in your mail box, a world where campaigns are hyper targeted to specific users at specific times in both digital and physical mediums. He also spoke about the ability to have print come to life.

Turns out that the USPS has partnered with Aurasma to create an augmented reality experience for direct mail, a true convergence of traditional and digital. (The video at the top of this post demonstrates some of the other augmented reality experiences Aurasma has developed.)

Burgoyne eloquently painted a picture of a person being alerted to a timely piece of mail that can be scanned to provide additional information revealing a time sensitive offer. Thus engaging with the consumer based on reliable data. The data telling when this person likes to shop, what type of device they use, what action was generated and ultimately how much that person spent. The consumer has a personalized experience and the marketer has a gold mine of information to help them accurately market to that individual.

A little creepy? Maybe, but how many of us get frustrated when we get served up irrelevant ads on our social sites? The only way to get accurate ads is to mine the data that we give when we are online and in store.

The conversation turned toward the success of data mining done by President Obama’s campaign. Joan Hogan Gillman, EVP, Time Warner Cable, Inc. and President, Time Warner Cable Media talked about the level of flexibility and creative pre-planning the campaign did so that they could adjust and adapt as the data streamed in.

Laura Caraccioli, EVP of Advertising at Electus, proposed why not share your data and insights with your creative team? Let them figure out how to design the campaign to adapt to how you want it to ebb and flow.

After sitting in that session it was apparent to me that if we aren’t contextualizing our data to the creative teams we are missing a huge opportunity.

Using Multiple Communications Channels to Increase Message Exposure

Multichannel effectsIf there’s one thing I’ve learned during my long tenure with PR Newswire, it’s this: distribution matters.  However, the ways brands distribute messages has evolved.  It’s no longer an exercise in pushing a message for audiences to consume.   Content we “push” is now fine-tuned to audience interests in terms of subject, and we take care to build in links and multimedia to more fully explain, engage and inform.  We’re also relying heavily on the “pull” good content generates over time, as audience share content with their peers and social networks, and as the traffic and interest the content has generated morphs into a signal recognized by search engines.  Distribution is no longer one-way in nature.  It’s more like a traffic circle.

It’s important to keep all of this in mind as your finger is hovering over the button on your computer that will send, post, publish or share a piece of content, because if you’re relying on a single channel, you’re selling your message short.

Derived and aggregated content – the starting points

Distributing content across multiple channels can be simple or more complex, but there’s a common element – multi-channel distribution is based upon content that is either derived from the core message, or aggregated to support it.

Here’s an example. 

content mnrLast week, PR Newswire issued a blog post highlighting some of the top performing press releases for 2012.  However, we didn’t stop there.   Instead, we created several more pieces of content to illustrate and convey the message. Here are all of the assets – and channels – we used to promote this messaging.

Distribution is the special sauce:

We could have just stuck with the original blog post.  But by adding the video illustrating the top releases, including links to the releases within the post, deriving from that post the multimedia news release – and then distributing all of these elements via our press release and syndication networks, plus social channels –resulted in the message garnering almost 15 times the average number of views one of our blog posts usually generates.

Why does this approach work?

There are a host of reasons why the multi-channel approach to content publication and distribution works.

  • More channels, more eyes.   Sharing and distributing different content elements across channels ultimately reaches larger audiences.   The opportunity increases exponentially when you derive content from your original message.  For example, the blog post, video and MNR we did for “Content We Love” provided me with separate opportunities to tweet, share and post content related to our core message.
  • The opportunity for relevance.  Different channels serve different interests.  YouTube is a great place to demonstrate key points of your message visually, especially if you’re showing examples or how-to tips.  SlideShare, on the other hand, has a lot of utility for those doing research, and can be a great way to showcase data that won’t necessarily translate well to video.  The point is, keep each channel’s utility in mind and fine tune your content accordingly.
  • Search.  Search engines are obviously crucial divers of visibility.  And by creating multiple content elements, you give search engines more things to index and serve up to interested searchers.  It’s also worth noting that YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world, and offers important search benefits in its own right.

I’ll be digging into the topic of leveraging content across channels to deliver business results on a webinar co-hosted with the Online Marketing Summit folks next week, and then again in person at the OMS in Feburary, where I’ll be hosting a workshop.  Here are the details:

Webinar (January 23): Leveraging Converged Media’s Impact on Content Marketing

Workshop: Driving Qualified Audiences Into the Funnel Using Rich Media and Distribution Networks 

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.  




A 6 Step Plan to Maximize Content Marketing with Agile Engagement

cm marketing paperThe bad news first: The sheer momentum with which the two phenomena are evolving today is swamping many marketing departments. It turns out that generating enough high value content in ways that are meaningful to multiple social audiences is a monumental challenge in today’s always-on media world.

The good news? Owned and earned media were born to leverage off one another – and their combined impact often proves to be far greater than the sum of their parts. Successful PR professionals work toward a self-renewing “virtuous cycle” in which owned media is published by a brand, audiences play it forward as earned media, and the amplification continues as these ripples spread throughout the social sphere.

And there’s even more good news: owned media is not limited solely to the videos, white papers, tweets and other content you produce; it also includes the multimedia platforms you’ve creatively designed to host that stream of brand messaging, as well as the communities you’ve built and diligently maintained around your messaging. With these multiple manifestations of owned media comes a greater resulting opportunity for earning media.

We’ve just published a new white paper titled “Content Marketing: A Six Step Plan for Agile Engagement” designed to help you get your arms around earned media opportunities and incorporating the agile engagement construct into your communications plans. We hope you enjoy the  paper, and invite your feedback in the comments below!

Link: Content Marketing: A Six Step Plan for Agile Engagement

6 Keys to Building an Agile Engagement Program

Yesterday PR Newswire hosted a webinar titled “Agile Engagement: 6 Steps to Building Communications Dexterity,” that featured some great case studies and a robust Q&A session that focused on what organizations need to do to make the change to the proactive agile engagement communications framework.

The panelists were:

  • Kelly LeVoyer, the Director of Marketing Editorial at SAS Software (@sassoftware)
  • Valerie Jennings, CEO of Jennings Social Media Marketing (@valeriejennings)
  • Sarah Skerik, VP social media, PR Newswire (moderator) (@sarahskerik)

The discussion was framed in the agile engagement construct developed by PR Newswire, which has key tenets and is discussed in detail in the free whitepaper titled “The Dawn of Agile Engagement.”  The six tenets are:

  • Listening & analysis
  • Content creation & curation
  • Audience targeting
  • Message distribution
  • Engage & interact
  • Measurement

Kelly started the discussion by speaking about how any company can improve by applying the agile strategy, noting that she believes many companies, including SAS, focus much too heavily on the “create” stage of this model.  She strongly encouraged that organizations begin focusing more upon the “listen”, “engage”, and “measure” stages. In speaking about the “listen” stage, Kelly stated that listening is a process that must be formalized and internalized, noting that the organization needs to be able to absorb and react to the information and data gleaned real-time from the social sphere.   The “engage” stage also received a lot of attention.  Kelly emphasized the growing importance of engagement as the term becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives.

When targeting and interacting with influencers, Kelly made it clear that engagement should not be reserved only for those with a high degree of influence (e.g. a big Klout score or rafts of Twitter followers) noting there are influencers everywhere.  Brands shouldn’t the people who are using their products on a daily basis.  It is smart to have a broad definition of what constitutes an influencer, for it can be detrimental to an organization to only engage the social media rock stars. By engaging everyone, she believes you can turn average customers into extremely credible evangelists.

Measurement was also a focus of Kelly’s presentation. She strongly believes that by monitoring all the processes involved with engagement, you are allowing the audience to create content for you.  In summary, Kelly noted that she does not have sympathy for organizations that complain about struggling to create content. She believes that if any organization can listen, engage, and measure, that content creation will come easily. However, she cautioned the audience to remember that despite how important the “listen” and “engage” stages are, they are meaningless if the “measure” stage does not take place.

Valerie Jennings, the CEO of Jennings Social Media Marketing, was our second presenter. She focused heavily on the importance of meeting business goals and achieving monetization for social media marketing programs, and noted that achieving these outcomes requires a lot of agile thinking.

Several points Valerie believes are of paramount importance when striving to reach these outcomes include:

  • Goal setting.  Mapping specific business outcomes sets a foundation for the program.  These goals should be quantifiable and attainable. Even if an organization is in the early stages of development, Valerie encourages them to set these goals. She cited social media as an example. In her opinion it is not enough to just say that your goal is “to have X amount of followers on Twitter”. She suggests that an organization extends this to something that is quantifiable in relation to the business as a whole, such as “getting X % of twitter followers to sign up for the organization’s newsletter”.
  • Take full advantage of SEO opportunities, which includes using up-to-the-minute keyword data.  When dealing with B2B and B2C social media marketing, she believes the most important aspects to take interest in when developing editorial content are keywords, search trends, and SEO goals. In focusing on keywords, she made it clear that she believes that they are not static; they are strong indicators of audience behavior. If an organization does a good job of analyzing the keyword choices of its audience, they should be able to tell exactly what type of content they need to create.
  • Understand timeframes and sales cycles, and plan accordingly.  In speaking about what sort of time frame to expect in order to achieve monetization, Valerie expressed her belief that the time frame depends on what type of organization you are working with. She used Wyndham Hotels as an example. Since Wyndham’s sales cycle tends to be a bit longer, she found the 6 to 7 months it took to achieve monetization to be relatively fast.  However, when dealing with an organization with a shorter sales cycle, it may be reasonable to expect monetization in a much shorter span of time. Valerie finished by emphasizing the importance of integrating monetization into your organization, stating that monetization can affect the overall marketing strategy, so organizations should make sure to build it in to their sales system or marketing department.

The session was incredibly robust, and this summary barely scrapes the surface.   To listen to the archive of the event – which includes good discussion by the presenter of specific case studies, follow this link:  Agile Engagement Webinar .

We believe this will be time well spent!

Webinar Today: Keeping Brand Visibility Flowing – Brand Streaming in Action

Today PR Newswire is hosting a webinar on brand streaming, continuing the conversation about communicating effectively in this real-time, connected world.

Today’s discussion will really dig into the nuts and bolts of recalibrating the communications function in your organization to capitalize upon the opportunities the digital (and social) information markets provide today’s brands and organizations.  We’ll discuss how to organize your team, leverage “found” content and learn how one brand’s focus on Facebook turned “likes” into leads.

Here are the details, and the link to the webinar registration page:

Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Social Media, PR Newswire

Matt Gentile, Global Director PR and Social Media, Century 21 Real Estate

Rebekah King, Senior Manager, Consumer Communications, Kelley Blue Book

Webinar Time: 10:00 AM Pacific, 11:00 AM Mountain, 12:00 PM Central, 1:00 PM Eastern

Keeping Brand Visibility Flowing Webinar Registration

Delving Into Agile Engagement: Free White Paper

Agile engagement starts with listening.

We’ve been talking a lot about the concept of “agile engagement” over the last few months, and we decided it deserved a closer look.  Today we’re publishing the results of that closer look, making a white paper titled “The Dawn of Agile Engagement ”  available for free download.

Free Download: The Dawn of Agile Engagement

The Dawn of Agile Engagement white paper explores the emerging theme of agile engagement and and goes a step further,  describing  a framework for effectively planning, preparing and leveraging communications to help communications professionals make the transition from a pattern of campaigns to an ongoing engagement media practice.

The paper covers all aspects of agile engagement,  which can probably be best describe as an interactive, ongoing cycle of:

  • Active listening
  • Content creation
  • Influencer identification, targeting & engagement
  • Message distribution
  • Measurement

…. (rinse and repeat)

Agile engagement is a real-time communications construct, spurred by social media that can drive increased brand awareness and audience growth and make real business impact.  The white paper delves into each stage of the process and provides actionable insights, expert tips and case study examples to help you strengthen your brand with agility.