Building a Blog

As my blog pushes forward into its third month, I’m continuously looking for advice on improving the content and reach of the blog as well as how to tailor it to the needs/wants of those interested in the intersection of the digital and healthcare spheres.

PR Daily published some tips for business bloggers which, to me, speak to bloggers in general, whether the author is building a personal blog or a blog for a client:


Make your own rules: Work you blog on what feels right for you and your readers

Stick to what you know and enjoy: Write about topics you’re well-versed in

Identify your audience

Write to express, not to impress

Understand the art and science of writing headlines

Forget writer’s block

Use video

Weave your personality into your posts

Encourage people to comment, and respond to them

Find good images

Understand the next steps: include a call to action or encourage readers to subscribe to your RSS feed

Write and upload your own posts

These bullet points of advice can be applied to a variety of blogs and online posts, not just those related to business. Building a personal blog/online presence is a great way to gain experience, navigate the plethora of online options, and work out some major kinks before blogging for an employer. . . The steps above are a great start.

Where have you turned to look for ways to improve your blog?


Forcing Pharma’s Hand: Facebook’s Policy Change and the Future of Regulated Healthcare Marketing

Porter Novelli‘s recently released white paper reveals some important information about the changing relationship between “big pharma” and Facebook. The most important change coming out of the report is the fact that new Facebook pages will no longer allow administrators to “disable” the comments section. This move is essentially forcing companies, that wanted to silence consumers on their page, to accept the fact that people will talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly on the company’s page.

While companies may not be thrilled about this change, transparency is crucial to building a strong relationship with consumers. Relationship management, while only one piece of the bigger PR picture, should not be brushed aside. I am not suggesting that companies chase down every “troll” and engage in conversation, however, this move by Facebook will bring the positive and negative comments to the doorstep of some very big companies.

To read the full report, click here.

There is also a free webinar, with the authors of the white paper (Porter Novelli employees) today at 4 pm CST. Here is the link to register.

Pew Internet Study: The Social Life of Health Information (2011)

This intriguing survey study by Pew Internet focuses on the intersection of healthcare and social media. The study primarily focuses on how social media comes into play as part of the healthcare of adults. The dynamic interplay between social media/digital and the healthcare industry is complicated yet necessary. The internet has become a primary source of information and, as a result, become a source of healthcare information.

As someone who grew-up with the Internet, it is one of the first places I turn to for information on a plethora of topics.

The following statistics are relevant to the 74% of adults who use the Internet (according to Pew Internet):

  • 80% of internet users have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics such as a specific disease or treatment. This translates to 59% of all adults.
  • 34% of internet users, or 25% of adults, have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
  • 25% of internet users, or 19% of adults, have watched an online video about health or medical issues.
  • 24% of internet users, or 18% of adults, have consulted online reviews of particular drugs or medical treatments.
  • 18% of internet users, or 13% of adults, have gone online to find others who might have health concerns similar to theirs.
  • 16% of internet users, or 12% of adults, have consulted online rankings or reviews of doctors or other providers.
  • 15% of internet users, or 11% of adults, have consulted online rankings or reviews of hospitals or other medical facilities

A comprehensive summary of the findings can be found here.

LinkedIn Advice for New Graduates

Here is a great article by Lindsay Pollak – Getting Started on LinkedIn: Advice for Recent Grads. While this blog is dedicated to the digital sphere, healthcare developments, and social media, I will also be adding the occasional post about professional development. No matter what field or what age, we all need to regularly check our professional skillset to make sure we’re working to our fullest potential.

Lindsay’s website is also a great inspiration for all of us who are looking to brand ourselves and build an online presence.

U30Pro Submission, the website extension of the popular #u30pro Twitter chat, prides itself as “… a community where young professionals can feel comfortable asking questions that they’ve been struggling with in their career, and to discuss trends in an honest and comfortable environment.”

During the launch of the website, co-founders David Spinks and Lauren Fernandez asked readers to respond to the following blog post: What I’m afraid of in my career, and how I plan to overcome it.

With graduation rapidly approaching and my June 8th start date getting closer by the second, I’ve been seeking advice from young professionals, peers, and faculty. I’ve spent the last five years in a comfortable academic bubble working on a BS in Communications and a MS in Public Relations. Transitioning out of academia and into the real world is a tumultuous time for many young professionals. Many of us will be uprooting and moving to pursue a career, sometimes far from home. As I prepare to start work in 5 weeks, two major fears have crossed my mind –

Fear: How will I keep on top of the ever changing healthcare industry?

Tactic: Divide and conquer…and never stop reading.

Next month, I’ll be starting my career at a New York City public relations agency and life will be moving at a feverish pace. New assignments, new co-workers, and new clients. While I can’t wait to dive into my digital healthcare projects, going in blind is not an approach I want to take. Healthcare requires a high level of expertise and technical knowledge. It also requires a wealth of knowledge – from pending government regulations to strict social media protocols to drug recalls.

This is where Google Reader comes into play. In anticipation of starting work, I set-up a Google Reader with five tabs: Digital, Healthcare, News, Public Relations, and PRSA. These breakdowns enable me to pick and choose what outlets I’m looking at and not bite off more than I can chew. Websites like the WSJ publish a little more frequently than some specialty healthcare blogs. Tabbing my selected sources ensures no one publication gets overlooked simply because it publishes less frequently.

Recommended reads:

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences by Deirdre Breakenridge

Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. by Scott Stratten

Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together by Bob Pearson

The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaaker and Andy Smith

Fear: Juggling multiple clients and not letting any one slip to the wayside.

Tactic: Make priorities.

I’ve spent my last 3 internships at a corporation and not-for-profits, essentially working for one client/organization. However, I’ve learned valuable lessons by managing multiple campaigns simultaneously. The March is Red Cross campaign – “Manni About Town” was in full-blown force as I was ramping up coverage for the “Shots for Shots” basketball tournament at Syracuse University. Meticulous to-do lists, time management skills and my trusty planner helped me balance both campaigns. Simultaneously reporting to three different Red Cross staff members over the last nine months, I also learned to work under a variety of management techniques. Crises, including Southern Tier flooding and the Japan earthquake/tsunami, threw a wrench in some of my plans, but that’s when you re-adjust and learn to roll with the punches.

Corporation. Not-for-profit. Agency. Crises and other developments keep public relations fast-paced and exciting. However, know what needs to be accomplished before you leave the office at the end of the day, no matter what events might spring up that day.

I also can’t stress enough how important internships are to young professionals, especially in today’s market. The lessons you learn at one organization/company/agency will help you be a better employee in the future.


Fears can creep up on anyone, regardless of age or career title. Remain confident in your abilities and chip away at your fears little by little.

Please add your two cents and share with friends! This post was for a #u30pro contest!

Social Media Policy: What Does Your Company Think?

As I was working on a social media strategy plan for a client, I scoured the web to see what was made available and discussed actions with employees at the organization. I’ve been continuing to do research on what is deemed appropriate SM behavior for agencies and corporate employees.

Social Fresh published information from the SM plans of 4 diverse organizations: Coca-Cola, Razorfish, The Washington Post, and Cisco. Here’s the link for in-depth information.

Scrolling through the different plans, there were several statements that I was happy to see explicitly stated:

– authorization before speaking on behalf of the company. (don’t forget as an employee you reflect the organization!)

– specific examples of what is okay

-“have fun, but be smart”

In my opinion, “humanizing” a company is a strong point of social media. Individual customers can interact with an actual human being, not just blast messages at a logo. At the same time, employees have to be cautious about what they say when speaking for the company. Brands can be damaged by misuse of social media and the ripple effect will carry poorly crafted messages to the edge of the twitterverse.

Blogging for Public Relations Professionals

I took the last few days to delve deeper into what WordPress offers new bloggers. I chose WP for its open source platform and ability to be easily modified. While there are a ton of tabs and modifications – that is the beauty of using this platform. Blogs can be produced to appear in a variety of styles and looks with a wide variety of widgets and pulgins. The customization seems pretty unparalleled compared to other blogging platforms that I’ve had experience using.

Mashable recently published  a helpful article regarding blogging for PR professionals and suggested WordPress for the following reasons:

“With a bit of help, WordPress’ initial set up process is simple and fast, and yet it offers a huge range of customization and configuration options. And with thousands of plugins, there is one that will satisfy any need that you can think of, often for free. For those who are coordinating blogs for multiple clients, WordPress also offers admin features for easy management across the board.”
I’ve had a very easy time modifying my blog, switching between templates and making minor customizations. What are your blogging platform preferences?

Suggestion for those starting a blog: Set up the title, tagline, blog post and a header image and then play around with the different templates. The “previews” will then show your information the way it would appear than the sample filler information which is not representative of what you’ll be putting on the page.

NYTimes Pay Wall: The Cost of Keeping Up in PR?

Many of us in the public relations field follow industry publications, for our respective clients, and the general news trends. Natural disasters, global economic changes, etc. can impact clients regardless of industry. One of the main news channels I use to keep up with global news is the New York Times. An avid reader for years, Newhouse reinforced this news outlet by incorporating its headlines into our pop quizzes. The quizzes reinforced the need for us to stay on top of news to succeed in our industry.

AdAge reviewed the short term results of the New York Times paywall and found “more than 100,000 people have forked over credit-card numbers to get through the digital pay wall erected by the New York Times on March 28.” Although there is a limited number of articles you can see before the paywall hits, have you forked over your hard earned cash to keep reading NYT produced news? or are you looking elsewhere for your daily consumption?

Do QR Codes Have a Place in Digital Healthcare Campaigns?

The Edelman Digital site has a specific subcategory blog dedicated to the intersection of healthcare and the digital sphere. On April 5th, the blog stated, “Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield recently began incorporating QR codes into various materials distributed to current customers. Starting with a postcard mailing that contained a QR code driving users to the Blue Cross Blue Shield medical care provider directory, these codes have now been added to customer benefit statements sending them to a website to learn more or access their information. Additionally, QR codes have been placed in various print advertisements which direct individuals to a YouTube commercial.”

At the American Red Cross, we also incorporated QR codes into our scavenger hunt promoting March is Red Cross Month campaign with relative success. The QR codes directed users to American Red Cross content online, since the campaign focused on spreading the word about services available to the CNY region. The campaign (“Manni About Town”) was heavily driven by social media platforms (Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter). The social media-centric campaign may or may not have drawn people who are already social media savvy.

Have you incorporated QR codes into a campaign for your organization? Did you find increased engagement? Or were people who didn’t know what a QR code was and/or didn’t own a smartphone alienated?

I look forward to reading your imput!

Denver Health – A Model of Reform for Hospitals

Denver magazine 5280 recently published an in-depth feature on Dr. Patti Gabow – CEO of Denver Health Medical Center. Her powerful leadership skills have guided the hospital in the right direction, “and the city’s oldest public hospital is repelling the trends that have destroyed others like it around the country: crippling debt, rising numbers of uninsured patients, and dismaying percentages of medical errors, to name a few.”

Hospitals, including Denver Health, have a enormous pressures, however, the overview of her efforts presented in the feature article demonstrate that they don’t need to suffer in the red. They can move towards black and still serve the patients that desperately need them, even uninsured patients.

Although the hospital was back in the black in 1994, Gabow hasn’t stopped pushing for reforms. She’s brought in engineers to review floor plans and advisers from top companies to improve the hospital’s efficiency. This constant drive is not only impressive, but necessary to keep the hospital move in the right direction.

I was inspired by her relentless grind to push myself – while you can’t always see the benefits of hard work immediately, you can definitely expect dividends to pay out in the long run.

Her hard work attitude reminded me of Joe Sweeney (Former agent for Brett Favre, Co-Founder of SMG, succesful investment banker, etc.) and the metaphor from his book Networking is a Contact Sport. In his book, they author compared applying patience and persistence to networking with fertilizing and watering a bamboo plant. Bamboo plants must be water and fertilized for over 4 years, and then, in record time, the plant grows 90 feet in 6 weeks. Highly recommend this book.

For the article, click here. For Sweeney’s book, click here.