PR Bracket Challenge – The Results!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in our 2017 PR Bracket Challenge. We got great feedback from our clients and fellow marketing professionals.

Click on the images to watch the unveiling of the winners!

Bracket Challenge 2017 PR Focus

Bracket Challenge 2017 PR PartnerTrue to our brand—strategy seems to be king.

When asked, “What’s your biggest PR focus this year?” most responded strategic communications and digital, web & social, with strategic communications coming out on top.

As for our other “Final Four” bracket—“What’s the most important trait in a PR partner?”—the results were pretty even, but relationships with the team and strategic counsel pulled off the win and moved forward to the semi-finals. It was a close one, but like the first bracket, strategy ended up winning it all, with strategic counsel being crowned the champion.

Hope everyone enjoys cheering on the teams in that OTHER match-up today! And, if you’re looking for a partner in strategic planning or strategic communications, give us a call. 

PR Bracket Challenge—What are Your Picks?

In honor of March Madness, we decided to put together a little bracket challenge of our own. Instead of the typical office pool to see which of us has superior college basketball knowledge (aka luck), we designed a public relations bracket competition.

We’re asking our clients, fellow PR pros, friends and YOU to decide what PR services move forward in each of the two “Final Fours” below:

Bracket Challenge 2017 PR FocusBracket Challenge 2017 PR Partner

Join in on the fun and let us know your “picks” by: 

  • Emailing our Public Relations Specialist & Social Media Manager Katie Koeppel at kkoeppel@blmpr.com
  • Or, sending us a tweet @BLMPRmke
  • Or, messaging us your predictions on LinkedIn
  • Or, simply commenting below!

We’ll be sharing the results on our blog and social media pages next week—stay tuned!

Readying for “Repeal & Replace” in Healthcare Communications

Recent moves from the Trump Administration underscore the importance and volatility of the ACA debate for healthcare leaders and consumers alike. What’s less clear are the potential scenarios for “repeal and replace,” and how and when they might become reality. To help your team stay prepared, we put together the below infographic that visually captures a few possible paths the president and Congress might take—and a few they likely won’t.

Whatever the outcome, good communications strategy will help ease the transition for patients, providers and insurers. At Bottom Line, healthcare’s our business. We helped systems navigate the widespread communications needs when the ACA first passed, including advice on:

  • Making information visual and easy to understand for healthcare consumers
  • Personalizing the impact by using avatar stories to share examples for various consumer ages and audiences
  • Proactively gathering common questions and resources to share with consumers

Now, we stand ready to help communicate whatever the next wave of changes brings.

ACA Repeal & Replace

Practicing What We Preach in a Crisis

Last month, we experienced something we often help our clients navigate – a crisis. A water heater pipe burst in the office above us and water poured into the Bottom Line space, soaking our carpets and damaging our ceilings, walls and equipment.

office after flood

office cieling after flood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, our expertise in communications and crisis management helped Bottom Line get back on its feet in no time. In just two days after discovering our flooded office, we’d successfully moved into a temporary office, showing no change in our client interactions and project execution.

temporary office

Here are the five key rules we followed to make it happen—the same five rules we use when helping clients deal with a crisis situation:

  1. Acknowledge what has happened. After our President and CEO Jeffrey Remsik discovered the flood, he avoided the freeze, flight or fight reaction that often occurs in times of crisis, and instead took immediate, well-planned next step. He contacted the building owners, got the facts of the situation and outlined an action plan.
  2. Communicate immediate next steps. Actions speak louder than words—that is why we made sure we had potential temporary office locations when we told employees and clients about the problem.
  3. Communicate consistently and demonstrate action. All along the way, we kept employees informed of next steps and the timeline for returning back to our office. It was clear our top priority was to protect the health, safety and welfare of our employees.
  4. Provide multiple opportunities and channels to capture feedback. For two weeks after the flood, we facilitated daily check-ins with employees for them to ask questions, and to ensure the temporary office was working well and that they had everything they needed to meet client expectations. 
  5. Ask for help. The key to survival in a crisis is knowing where to go for the right kind of help – the earlier, the better. We were sure to reach out to our attorney, the building’s maintenance staff and the building owners to ensure a smoother, faster return to normalcy.

Click here to learn about another crisis we’ve managed. 

Happy Holidays!

In the spirit of the holidays, we appreciate you! We also appreciate good food and figure you do too, so we’ve compiled our favorite holiday recipes into a “12 Days of PR Holiday Recipe Book.” We hope you enjoy it, and that it inspires you to try your own. Tweet us your favorites at @blmprmke! 

Download a PDF of the recipe book here.

 

Happy Holidays

Marketing Guru Meet Public Policy Geek

Here at Bottom Line, we recently had the opportunity to be a part of the 2016 Annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) in Chicago and the Wisconsin Public Relations and Marketing Society’s (WHPRMS) 2016 annual meeting in Madison, WI.

Nicole Singer, our director of client services, facilitated a luncheon round table discussion of strategic planning at SHSMD, and I presented a session on the intersection of healthcare public policy and marketing at WHPRMS. The similarities in the responses at both were striking.

As Nicole guided the round table discussion, she asked how many of the participants were aware of MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) and recent changes in HOPD (hospital outpatient department) reimbursements. Half had never heard of these policy issues, and the other half said they had heard about it, but did know much. I did the same in Madison, and only one person said he was aware. How about you? Do you know what MACRA is and how it affects your hospital?

The responses underscored the points we made in our WHPRMS presentation: WHPRMS Policy Geek Meets Marketing Maven. Think about it. Marketing tends to focus on consumers and purchasers. The public affairs people tend to focus on politicians and policymakers. Yet they talk to and influence one another. Public concerns and unrest create pressure for Congress to act, while politicians often use strident language that defines “reform” as “death panels” or an “end to Medicare as we know it.”

In our Madison presentation, we covered how to protect and enhance your brand by creating stronger links between your marketing communications and public affairs strategies, and how to strategically connect with public officials around key emerging issues. We also talked with participants about how to translate complex concepts about healthcare reform, reimbursement, quality and transparency into useful and meaningful messages that resonate with clinicians, employees, public officials, and most importantly, patients.

Looking forward, federal healthcare policies include shifting to new payment models, including bundling payments for related services. Federal savings would occur only if providers were paid less in total than under current law, either because they would be delivering fewer and less complex services or because they would be receiving less money per service. Making larger structural changes to health care programs could help the federal budget, but would have a range of effects on providers and beneficiaries. Will this  potential conflict creates a downstream conflict between providers and patients?

As the “repeal and replace” debate plays out over the next several months, healthcare customers are likely to become more aware of the challenges the system is facing, and feel some of the ultimate burdens of the policy changes. How you communicate could be the difference between these two divergent perceptions:

  • The health system is driving us broke – and my doctor and hospital are part of the problem.
  • My doctor and hospital are part of the solution to a broken system.

Which perception are you likely to create with your hospital’s marketing and public policy efforts?

- Jeffrey Remsik, Bottom Line president and CEO

Making Employees Feel Appreciated

What do employees want from their employer? Sure, a decent paycheck, health insurance and vacation days are important. But the ABC Company provides these benefits, and so does the 123 Company. So what makes one company more appealing to employees than the other? It’s the little things that show employees they’re appreciated. When comparing one company to another, the company with a culture of appreciation usually wins.

There are many ways to show appreciation that don’t require much time, money or effort. Take for example a simple verbal acknowledgement for a job well done. As the CEO or manager, taking a moment to speak directly with your employee to acknowledge his or her work can make a huge impression on that employee. It shows him or her that you’ve taken notice of the employee’s work. Employees, especially millennials, want verbal acknowledgement and feedback, and this is one of the best ways to show appreciation.

A handwritten note or an email is also effective if you make it personal to the employee. “I really appreciate the work you did to clean up the database. It’s not a fun job, but our next mailing will be more efficient thanks to your efforts.”

Other ways to show your employees you appreciate them include:

  • Unexpected time off. Consider giving an employee or the whole office a few hours off once in a while. For example, the first nice warm weather day or an afternoon in December to do some holiday shopping.
  • Bringing in treats, coffee or lunch. Food is always a hit, especially in our own office.
  • Inviting employees to sit in on planning sessions.
  • Holding frequent state-of-the-company meetings to keep all employees appraised of what’s going on in the workplace.

For some employers, it’s a big deal if their employees simply show up each day, dressed appropriately and use the tools they have to connect with customers. Appreciating your employees for being part of the team is also worthy of an acknowledgement.

We recently helped a banking client develop and execute a brand recognition campaign. As the new brand was rolled out over a six-month period, so too were small, but impactful, ways to acknowledge and recognize employees. One month employees received pins to wear at work. The pin had the new slogan on it, and if a customer asked the employee what it meant, it gave the employee the opportunity to explain the new brand and interact with the customer. Another month, each employee received a branded pen. The next month each employee received recruiting cards he or she could personalize with their name and hand to prospective employees. Employees loved the cards and felt empowered to help find the next great job candidate. These cards were tied to a refreshed employee referral bonus. Employees were rewarded with candy bars in November with a message that said the company was “thankful” for them.

The immediate impact of this overall campaign resulted in a lower employee turnover rate. Employees felt like they had ownership in the company and knew they were appreciated. It was a win-win.

If you’re not already acknowledging your employees, consider putting together a small internal focus group to solicit input on ways to start recognizing employees. A little effort goes a long way to differentiate your company from the competitor, helping you recruit and retain the best employees. 

If you were CEO for the day, what would you do to show appreciation?

A Formula for Strategic Relationships

Trust is the foundation of successful business (and personal) relationships. When trust is present, information flows more readily, people are more receptive to new ideas and everyone receives more honest feedback.

While trust is an emotional response, there are formulae to create and maintain trust. I like the one offered by Charles H. Green, co-author of “The Trusted Adviser.”

(Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy)/Self-orientation

Credibility: We build credibility with our credentials, professional experience, presence, business judgement and financial acumen. We also demonstrate credibility by answering questions directly and succinctly offering our opinions and insights.

Reliability: We build reliability when people know they can count on us to make and keep commitments, respond promptly and show consistency in our actions and attitudes.

Intimacy: The authors use this term to mean connectedness, empathy and discretion. Intimacy engenders relationships where people share what is most important to them. Candor with respect grows intimacy.

Self-orientation: Being in the denominator, self-orientation works in reverse. To build trust, people need to believe that you are motivated by the best interests of the organization and people. That means being unselfish. It also means being calm, not preoccupied or self-secure. These qualities help you be perceived as objective, without a personal agenda.

Trust is, however, a binary dynamic. The first is trustworthiness, the one being trusted. The other dynamic is the person doing the trusting and taking the risks. It may be obvious that others take risk in trusting us. It may be less obvious that we have to show that we trust them as well.

What are the dynamics of your strategic relationships?

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!