Client Spotlight: ThedaCare

Every once in a while we like to give a shout out to one of our clients and showcase our good work together. This month, we’re featuring ThedaCare, a longtime client who’s partnered with us on everything from strategic communications to competitive intelligence to government relations to publications – and more. Here’s a peek into the scope of our work, and depth of our connections at this seven hospital, 35 clinic health system.


Strategic Communications

When change is afoot, as it often is in the world of health care, ThedaCare has relied on our strategic consultation, careful planning and expert writing skills to help develop communication plans, draft messages and roll out tactics from relationship marketing meetings, internal- and external-facing materials, events, media coordination and more. Using simple and clear language in our messages and creative visuals, we’ve crafted campaigns that share quality care data, the complexities of the Affordable Care Act, opportunities for new physicians, insights for government officials and significant organizational change.

Competitive Intelligence

In the world of health care, understanding your competition is essential. Sometimes that understanding yields a business partnership opportunity, and sometimes, it prompts a competitive business strategy. As part of the ThedaCare annual strategic planning process, we’ve compiled profiles of all kinds of organizations to help ThedaCare understand market changes and their implications in the 14 counties the organization serves – and beyond. Our research has included everything from national chain pharmacies and drug stores that are moving into care delivery to workplace wellness expansion to other healthcare systems and providers.

Government Relations

As part of the ThedaCare GR team, we support identification and strategic response around various government policies and regulations that present opportunities or risk to any and every part of the organization. We focus on state-level matters, and collaborate with our federal-level team members to develop strategies that influence policymakers on behalf of ThedaCare.


TC Magazine Portfolio Image

With years of experience in managing the ThedaCare employee newsletter and the ThedaCare community magazine, we’ve not only told the ThedaCare story in many vibrant ways, we’ve also learned the organization from the inside out. Relationships delight us and define how we work, so it’s no surprise we appreciate every person we interview, everyone who submits content and every soul who shares the heartfelt significance of participating in the ThedaCare mission of improving the health of the communities the organization serves.

Our Sweet Spot

We excel at behind-the-scenes consultation, research and marketing communications support that reaches the more than 240,000 patients ThedaCare serves annually, the organization’s many partners, public officials, stakeholders and community members.

As ThedaCare continues to lead in implementing the health care of the future, we’re excited to walk alongside their team of passionate experts. Strategically supporting this special client, and helping execute around key initiatives and projects is a centerpiece of our work in health care. That kind of support isn’t limited to ThedaCare, though. It’s simply one great example of how we do business, all day, every day.

Creative Ways to Get in Front of Journalists

As newsrooms continue to shrink, it is important in our industry to stay in touch with the reporters.  Those that remain may have taken on new or additional beats. To help us tell our client stories, we try to maintain frequent touches with reporters. The old method of sending out press releases and media alerts and holding press conferences is not always the best option.

Here are some new ideas to stay in touch in order to get in front of journalists:

  • Research the reporter. Find out what beats he or she covers. This helps ensure you get your pitch into the hands of the reporter who covers that topic. Beats change, so be sure to keep current.
  • Follow the reporter on social media. Retweet or “like” posts.
  • Tailor your message to the specific reporter. After you have followed the reporter on Twitter or other forms of social media, and learned he or she struggles to find missing socks after laundry day, tie your pitch to that news. You could say something like, “We’ve provided all the information you need for a great story in the attached news release. Much easier than finding the missing socks.” The reporter will appreciate the connection and know that you have been following him or her on social media.
  • Personalize each email rather than sending a news release via a mass email service.
  • Utilize social news aggregators. Reporters scroll through platforms such as Reddit and Gawker to find out what’s trending. Post a link to get a reporter’s attention.

If you are still operating under the “old-school” realm, a face-to-face meeting never hurts. Invite the reporter to take his or her break and meet at a local coffee shop. In 30 minutes, you will be able to learn what topics are of interest and share some of the work you are doing.  Follow up with a thank you and continue to have frequent check-ins. By the way, there is nothing wrong with old school!

A little investigative work up front goes a long way to getting your information in the right hands (or inbox). Reporters appreciate the extra effort you take to provide something useable and your efforts will pay off with media coverage. If you would like help telling your story, contact us—it is what we do!

Strategies vs. Tactics: The Map and the Backpack

Companies often come to us saying things like:

  • We need a great-looking brochure.
  • Can you create a Facebook page for us? Everyone has one, and we need one too.
  • We want to be featured in the New York Times.

The challenge with each of these requests is that the company is already thinking at a tactical level. We encourage them to zoom out to first examine their overall strategy.

What is it they hope to accomplish? Is the fancy new brochure actually part of a larger effort to reach referral sources? Is a Facebook presence something they can strategically maintain for the long-run? How do they plan to leverage an article in the New York Times?

Each of these actions should be tied to a set of strategies and goals.

It’s sometimes difficult for companies to think at the strategic level, because tactics are easier to understand. They’re tangible, the actual real deliverables that people can see, touch and feel. But they won’t have an impact if they’re not anchored in strategy.

We like to describe it this way: Imagine your company is on a journey. One toward growth, profits and success. There are two things you need for that trek:

  • A map – your strategy, which tells you where you’re going
  • A backpack of gear – the tactics and tools that will help you safely reach your destination

Without knowing the map first, it’s pretty hard to pack the right gear. What if you had ice climbing poles and cold weather clothes, only to find out you’re heading for the tropics? Or, you pack water for a week, and then realize the journey will actually last a month?

The key is to make your map and your gear work together. That’s the synergy of strategy and tactics!

Getting in the Olympic Spirit

I have a confession. I love the Olympics. I choke up during the inspirational commercials, the Cinderella stories and the heartbreaking near misses (Dan Jansen, I’m looking at you!). The Games are a powerful beacon. How many other products or brands have captivated the attention and emotion of humankind for multiple millennia?

My family has been lucky enough to attend two Olympic Games: Atlanta in ’96 and Salt Lake City in ’02. With Rio opening this Friday, I thought it’d be fun to share some memories and lessons.

Atlanta, 1996

What better way to start than with the lovable, much-maligned object of every good family vacation: the car.

We called it the Party Barge—a giant blue cargo van rented to embark on our latest cross-country adventure. The year was 1996. Our destination, the Atlanta Olympics. I was 12 and beyond thrilled.

The van seats were huge, the back practically a bed, and it had a table—a table!—inside. Even better, it had a tiny TV on the floor between the front seats. (Remember, it was 1996—the idea was new!) The picture went scratchy at times, the sound warbly, but nothing could beat watching the Opening Ceremonies unfold as we drove our way to that very spot!

The air conditioning broke on something like our second day in Atlanta, but even now, I have a certain fondness for the old Party Barge.

Salt Lake City, 2002

At the Salt Lake Games, we saw the Russia vs. Belarus hockey game. As we cheered about the latest face-smashed-on-glass move, I heard kids chanting to our right and turned to see three boys proudly bare-chested with “Bel,” “A,” “Rus” painted across their stomachs in bright red. They clapped and screamed for their team with reckless abandon like the game was the greatest triumph of their young lives.

Later, I met a Russian journalist with her country’s flag wrapped around her shoulders. We struck up a conversation as fellow writers. It was one of those uplifting experiences that makes the world seem a smaller place.

The hockey game taught me an important PR lesson too. Audiences want someone to cheer for. We crave it on a basic level, and the best story ideas and client pitches take that into account. Find a way to captivate your brand audiences’ attention—even for a moment—and get them cheering.

My Favorite Moments

There are no words to accurately capture the emotions of a live medal ceremony, no matter which country is on the top of the stand. This is the moment it starts to sink in for the athletes. The work is over, the race is won, and the full impact of what they’ve accomplished finally hits.

As the medal is placed around their neck and the first notes of their nation’s anthem begin to play, you see a change come over them. Some smile, some sing along, some fight back tears. Many simply stand in silent awe, drinking it in. But you can always see it in their eyes—years of sacrifice, sweat and tears have come down to this moment. It must be the most humbling, rewarding moment of their lives. They’ve done that rare thing we all strive to do: catch our most closely-held dreams.

It never fails to get me.

Here’s hoping for a wonderful and safe Games in Rio!