The PRSA Health Academy Section presented its annual Conference on May 1 to 3 in Indianapolis. The event was themed “Accelerate Your Success: Winning Strategies in Health Care PR” and focused on aiding health care communicators through the challenges of developing effective and efficient programs in this continually evolving field.

Panelists presented sessions on:

  • Embracing the rapid globalization of health care communications.

According to Jeff Winton, vice president and head of global communications at Eli Lilly and Company, health care communicators should aim for consistent global messaging with flexibility for localization. They should ensure that their communications are integrated with corporate affairs disciplines. Lastly he advises that partnership and teamwork across the organization, affiliates and business units are critical to success — employees are your best ambassadors.

  • Choosing wisely with communications campaigned and the fighting against a “more is better” mindset for unneeded medical tests.

John J. Held, director of communications for ABIM Foundation, and Nicholas Ferreyros, account supervisor for GYMR Public Relations, presented on how PR pros should have a clear plan and set expectations. Before communicators publish and distribute unnecessary medical procedures they need to ensure that the procedures are evidence-based and approved by physicians.

  • Concussion awareness and the football injury prevention text message campaign.

Dr. Vishal Mehta, co-founder and chief medical adviser for Healthy-TXT, and Sharon Schreiber managing partner and co-founder for the organization, demonstrated how text messaging is a win-win situation: Patients get the information they need and want, and it improves compliance for the doctor and saves staff time. At the end of the day communicators need to deliver information in a way that patients want to receive it.

  • The emerging information landscape for patients and health care communicators.

According to Lee Rainie director of Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, from a health care standpoint, the online environment is great because it provides users with an abundance of information and a place to find communities of people who are passionate about various health and wellness issues. When people engage with social media, they are often passionate, personal and rooting for a cause, which is why their approach to information and their agenda are almost always different.

  • Shaping thought leadership for your health care organization.

Laila Waggoner, partner and chief strategy officer for R/P Marketing Public Relations and Robin Walters, business development manager for Halley Consulting Group, presented on how to fit the right opportunity with the right talent. Media training for spokespeople is a vital aspect of aligning key messages with media needs and business objectives.

  • How to simplify your communications strategy yet still do it all.

Susan Matthews Apgood, president and co-founder of News Generation, Inc. moderated the panel at the Conference in Indianapolis. News Generation presented with the American Diabetes Association at the, “Dramatically Simplifying Your Communication Strategy Yet Still Do It All” session, which focused on how the American Diabetes Association  has successfully managed to do it all with less, and has delivered results using radio. Susan spoke to the success of radio saying that “Radio actually has a higher penetration than television, magazines, newspapers or the Internet. Radio has stood the test of time and routinely gets called in for duty when there’s some sort of crisis.”

Videos of the sessions can be found at PRSA 2013 Conference Sessions, including the re-cap of the radio panel.


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