An Interview with Advocate Health Care: Case Study #StoriesOfTheGirls

11/06/2014

Breast cancer logoBreast cancer still impacts too many lives. Advocate Health Care launched a unique program to bring attention to breast cancer prevention, treatment and support.

Understanding that women gain strength and the comfort from the stories they share and are shared they used digital and social networks to tell the  #StoriesoftheGirls . Through the following interview Christine Piester, VP Marketing and Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing and Communication graciously provided us with a case study of the program.

This post is dedicated to my sister Susan who I know is dancing in the stars.  Susan atl

About Advocate Health Care. Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest health care providers in the Midwest.

Advocate operates more than 250 sites of care, including 12 hospitals that encompass 11 acute care hospitals, the state’s largest integrated children’s network, five Level I trauma centers (the state’s highest designation in trauma care), three Level II trauma centers, one of the area’s largest home health care companies and one of the region’s largest medical groups. As a not-for-profit, mission-based health system affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ, Advocate contributed $661 million in charitable care and services to communities across Chicagoland and Central Illinois in 2013.

 Our Story Tellers

Advocate Healthcare_ Christine Priester, VP, MarketingChristine Priester, VP, Marketing

 

 

 

 

Advocate Healthcare _Christine Bon

Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing & Communication

 

 

 

 Diva Marketing/Toby: How did the idea of #StoriesoftheGirls evolve? Was it a difficult sell to management including the hospital administrator?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Obviously, the idea of #StoriesOfTheGirls remains a very edgy concept. Anytime you introduce a double entendre (“the girls”) as part of your campaign you take a risk. However, the Chicago health care market is noisy and we had to figure out a way to break through the clutter. Not only did we have to sell this concept to the health system leadership, we had to convince the 12 hospital presidents that this was the right idea, at the right time and with the right audience.

In order to gain the necessary buy-in, our CMO hosted numerous sessions where she outlined the campaign and addressed any questions and concerns. The vast majority of our internal leadership were overwhelmingly supportive, there were a few unsure outliers, but they soon became believers once they saw the results.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was success for the campaign and how was it measured?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonWhile we wanted women to join the conversation at StoriesOfTheGirls.com, we really wanted women to take advantage of our patient added-value proposition.

We were the first in the market to offer same-day, no-referral mammograms.  This breaks down access barriers and allows women to schedule their mammogram on their terms, when they have some extra time as life might be too busy to schedule this test a few weeks out, months out, but there is no time like the present. 

  • So, that said we measured the growth in mammogram appointments (up over 10% across the system), web site visits, and engagement in the conversation (social media).

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The micro site is rich with content about breast healthcare. For many visitors to the site, I’m guessing the most compelling content is the video stories told by the breast cancer survivors and physicians.  How were these women indentified? What were their reasons to publically participate in #StoriesoftheGirls? 

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonAdvocate Health Care treats more breast cancer patients than anyone else in Illinois, and more of our patients become survivors than any other system.  Through our over 30 mammogram locations across the system, we were able to tap into our internal resources to identify patients with compelling stories that were willing to participate in the campaign.

And, we had, and continue to have no problems with patients wanting to tell their story. All of our survivors say if telling their story can just save one woman’s life it was worth it. They also appreciated the real tone and voice of the campaign.

  • They have all grown tired of the traditionally depressing look at this disease and wanted to show that women’s relationships with “the girls” is much more than a cancer diagnosis.

This year we have some wonderful new videos that include not only survivors, an update on one of last year’s featured patients, but patients currently going through treatment, Sue even shaved her head on the video as her hair was falling out – emotional stuff!

 Diva Marketing/Toby: I would love to be able to chat with these amazing people. Did you explore incorporating real-time conversations through social networks, perhaps a Tweet Chat or a G+ Hangout?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Glad you asked this question. New in the 2014 Stories of the Girls campaign is a message board prominently on the StoriesOfTheGirls.com microsite. We knew that we had to take this campaign to the next level in terms of the conversation so this is an exciting element this year (just launched on 9-15-14). Here, you can chat with survivors, you can talk with other families and their friends going through this journey with a loved one, you can ask our doctors questions, and you can simply ask about other breast health issues from puberty and first bras, to breastfeeding, boob jobs, and changes during menopause. Anything goes! We’d be happy to put you in touch with any of our featured survivors, check out their amazing stories through these videos.

Advocate Health Care theta theta girls

theta theta girls video

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The most exciting social tactic I saw was a #StoriesoftheGirls Instragram contest. Would you explain the concept for the Diva community?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThe #StoriesOfTheGirls contest was another extender of the conversation. We wanted women to share their inspiring photos, but also just women in general living healthy lives. Women were encouraged to share their photos and in turn were entered to win a gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago. Since we had just launched our Instagram account the month prior, this was a great way for us to gain some new followers and boost engagement.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was the most surprising aspect of the Instagram contest?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThrough the contest, we uncovered some very inspiring stories and one that we are now featuring in this year’s campaign: Kia. We also saw a side of our own associates (employees) who shared their breast cancer journey through photos as well. We were excited to see how quickly we gained new followers who were interested in our content and still engage with us on the social platform.

 Diva Marketing/Toby: In addition to Instagram what other social media tactics were included? Which one was your favorite and why?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonIn addition to Instagram, we also used Facebook as a social platform to drive awareness of breast cancer by creating a daily calendar of trivia questions about breast health. There was a new question posted each day. Once the daily question was answered you were automatically entered to win a handmade breast cancer awareness crystal bracelet. You were able to enter a total of 31 times for a chance to win the grand prize of gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago.

We also used Facebook as a platform to share all of our patient’s incredible stories, and also to promote our Instagram contest. Both of our social promotions were well received and we got some great submissions and are continuing to engage through new social promotions with the campaign this year as well and we are seeing even greater results!

Diva Marketing/Toby: How are consumer generated stories/photos being used to extend awareness of #StoriesoftheGirls and  breast cancer health?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonOur videos and patient stories have been picked up by many local media outlets as further promotion. Our patients also blog and are the subject of many stories on our brand journalism site ahchealthenews.com  View some of them here.

We also have a partnership with the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, and Bears and we are able to leverage those relationships to have breast cancer awareness events where are patients are honorary captains, sing the 7th inning stretch, and more! It’s a year-long commitment to keep breast cancer awareness at the forefront, not just during October.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The #StoriesoftheGirls campaign kicked off October 2013 to support Breast Awareness Month and appears to be continuing into the summer of 2014 and beyond. As one might say in the theatre, what makes this a long-running show?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon

  • This campaign is authentic and real and that’s what gives it staying power. 

Act 2 of the show is in market now and we couldn’t be more excited. An element of this campaign remains in market year-round, however.  We want to make sure we’re promoting early detection of breast cancer through mammography 365 days a year. And, we want to make it easy for women to get their mammogram and new this year they can find out their results in less than 24 hours – talk about reducing worry that often times accompanies the wait on this test.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons did you learn and can pass along to others in healthcare that maybe considering creating digital/social campaigns?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonTake a risk, it’s worth it!

Content is critical.

Don’t tell your consumers about new equipment, this or that accreditation, they don’t care. 

Make your campaign about them, not about you.

Speak to your audience how people have conversations in their real life and reach out to them how they like to receive the message (social media, email, direct mail), everyone has a preference, learn it!

  • And, amazingly, you do this, they will talk back to you, and then you have a two-way, engaged consumer conversation and you create brand loyalty.

Toss of a pink boa to Sarah Scroggins for her help in coordinating this interview.  Advocate Health Care _ Sara Scroggins

Interview With American Marketing Association CEO Russ Klein

08/13/2014

Russ Klein _ AMA CEOThere's a new dude in town.

Well in the world of the American Marketing AssociationRuss Klein recently accepted the role of CEO for AMA and with that he now leads North America's largest professional marketing association.  Of course, AMA dropped a media release which details Russ' credentials (impressive!).

I was curious about the man-behind-the-logo. I felt I had a bit of a vested interest since my AMA affliation has a deep and long history from chapter president, to serving as facilitator of interactive and social media workshops and managing AMA's first virtual communities. One might even say, AMA set me on the road to social media when I chaired its first conferene on blogs in 2004 into 2005.  

Russ graciously agreed to a Diva Marketing interview. In the following conversation he offers: 

  • his view on the future of marketing in a disruptive world,
  • a peak into his vision for AMA,
  • the importance of volunteers and his plans to ensure continuous engagement .. and more.

Toby/Marketing: It sounds almost trite to say that marketing is in a state of disruptive chaos and change. Russ, having been in the center of creating marketing plans for some of the largest consumer brands, you can appreciate that our tool boxes are overflowing with new tactics and strategies.

How does a brand, any brand, ensure that its marketing is relevant and adds value for the customer?

Russ Klein/AMA: That’s not an interview question, that’s a theme for a book! Well certainly relevance and value are two watchwords that are the right ones to guide any marketers actions.

It’s not about what’s possible, despite all of the amazing technological advances we all see. It’s still about what is relevant. The main thing many marketers lose sight of is that merely being different is not necessarily relevant to consumers.

  • Creating differences that matter in the lives of consumers is what’s relevant.

I think the more mysterious question lies with the question of value. I am an ardent believer of Rifkin’s theory of near zero marginal costs that he asserts is imminent as a result of the internet of things and the remaining connectivity potential that is in our future. When you have a knowledge-based enterprise like the AMA competing in a world of open sourced innovation, a sharing economy, and lateral economies of scale, there are tremendous downward pressures on the costs of information.

MIT has posted its entire 1800 course curriculum online for free. So the AMA is not only challenged with delivering relevant thought and service leadership to its constituents, our products and services must be peerless to command some level of sustainable pricing power. This is why I am so excited to take on the challenges facing the AMA. This is the ultimate strategic gauntlet for any CEO to navigate.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Totally agree Russ it is a ‘big’ and not easy question. Perhaps we should put that book on our to do list!

However, the American Marketing Association is more than just another brand. One might say the AMA is the North Star for marketers. What do you feel is AMA’s North Star?

Russ Klein/AMA: Great question. My belief is that the academic gravitas and scholarly distinction…is to the AMA, what Mickey Mouse…is to Disney.

More specifically, by Mickey Mouse, I mean film animation. If you remove animated film credentials and the institutional/cultural effects associated with them, Disney is just another film company…no Disneyland, no Disneyworld, no transcendent lifelong emotional attachment with its consumers. If you remove the AMA Journals thought leadership and the esteemed academic status of being published in them, the AMA is just another conference company or speakers bureau.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Moving into the future how will the organzation ensure its does not lose its foucs in a vast sea of chaos?

Hugh North Star
Russ Klein/AMA
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  •  Chaos is opportunity for those that can stay poised and focused.

I view it simply as a matter of strategy, because strategy is all about choice. That’s something I’ve never been uncomfortable with. It goes back to what’s relevant, not what’s possible. It’s my job to help the organization identify opportunities and set priorities that can advance the AMA enterprise, and discard those that don’t.

The AMA culture must be one that values decisiveness and managerial courage to take stands in a civil and respectful way. If we stay focused on how we figure into the lives of our constituents, our stakeholders, and our users we will stay relevant and compelling.

The AMA is about improving the way marketing is practiced around the world. In so doing, we will be a vital catalyst spurring improved commerce and prosperity in communities and everywhere.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In your opinion Russ, what is the most critical aspect of marketing that is ‘broken’ which AMA can help ‘fix?”

Russ Klein/AMA: Two things. There is profound lack of 1) Training and development of talent and 2) Managerial courage.

First, CEO’s and CMO’s can’t expect talent to come to them with all the tools and skill-sets necessary to become a world-class marketer. Even if they have those assets when they arrive, the need for lifelong ongoing training and development plans never ceases.

As a CMO I felt a personal obligation to create learning cultures where curiosity and teachable moments were valued. I always felt if I wasn’t spending at least 25% of my day improving the professional capabilities of my people, I was failing. My observation and experience is that this isn’t happening nearly enough.

Second, business in general and marketing in particular is simply not black and white. As much as I believe in disciplined marketing science, there is also marketing art.

Managers are almost always presented with a spectrum of management decisions that range from “no-risk” to “high-risk” with corresponding rewards. Too many corporate cultures, including the marketing cultures inside them, are built around fear of failure and fear of appearing wrong. Or there’s the “go along to get along” mentality which is responsible for more mediocrity than I care to admit I’ve seen.

  • My advice to every marketer, young and old, is to re-examine your capacity for the courage of your convictions. You can’t inspire greatness or excellence without periodic principled “stands” for what you believe to be the right thing to do.

Toby/Diva Marketing: With your background as CMO for major consumer brands, as well as, award winning agency work you bring a prestigious CV to the party. However, nonprofit associations have some different and unique challenges. What most excites you about the opportunity to lead the AMA?

Russ Klein/AMA: I believe the one thing I bring is a ferocious passion to compete. While nobody would ever want to characterize the AMA as a bloodthirsty competitor, I do believe we are nonetheless competing with other formidable knowledge-based enterprises.

The need to identify and leverage competitive advantage is just as relevant in a not-for-profit arena as it is in the for-profit world. I suppose the most obvious difference is the amount of resources available to the AMA to advance its vision versus other better heeled for-profit and scaled up companies. Conversely, those companies seldom can call upon thousands of volunteers and advocates for whom their volunteerism is both a source of personal satisfaction and a calling to be of service to others. I believe the opportunity to hold up a shared vision as a source of inspiration can power the AMA when dollars can’t.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We like to think of AMA as The premier association in terms of marketing sciences thought leadership. Recently it appears the perception is AMA has lost ground to marketing content house like MECLABS, MarketingProfs, eConsultancy, SmartInsights, and of course, to marketing bloggers. What are your thoughts?

Russ Klein/AMA: On one hand I welcome the increased attention that many other enterprises are bringing to the practice of marketing science. Conversely, no one can deliver the academic thought and service leadership, the chapter level engagement, and the volunteerism that distinguishes the AMA. The so-called competitors out there should serve to motivate us to sharpen our competitive advantages in a way that, if we were uncontested, we probably never would.

The esteem with which marketing practitioners, academics, and students are viewed should be on the same level as those who choose medicine or science as their pursuit. The AMA is uniquely positioned to elevate marketing science in this way because of its academic credentials.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that the AMA should reclaim some of that 'thought leadership position' and if so how?

Russ Klein/AMA: I would never say that we couldn’t improve our thought leadership position. Knowledge is a fluid and perishable product. If I didn’t think our best ideas for thought leadership are ahead of us I couldn’t say our best days are ahead of us; and they most definitely are!

Toby/Diva Marketing: Although not professional associations, CEB and MECLABS have recently made acquisitions (Iconoculture and Marketing Sherpa respectively). It’s a different path to follow, but what are your thoughts about the possibilities of strategic acquisitions to grow the AMA and supplement areas where AMA does not have a strong reputation or extensive experience?

Russ Klein/AMA: My fundamental belief is that a healthy business model needs to identify organic growth first. If there are adjacent growth opportunities that can enable or accelerate the AMA vision through acquisition or strategic alliances I imagine we’d want to take a hard look at them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: AMA has traditionally served many different types of marketers: students, academics, practitioners, and researchers. What are your views on how that should be managed in the future? Do you think AMA should continue to try to serve everyone or focus more on one or more groups?

Russ Klein/AMA: I have always been an ardent champion of sharp, vivid focus on core users of a brand.

In the case of the AMA our core users just happen to cut horizontally across like-minded practitioners, academics, and students all of whom are engaged in the pursuit of original and best practices in marketing science. That said, there are still important ways of closing the aperture to create more focus for which we have ideas that remain part of our confidential strategic planning process.

Ama-logo 8_14
Toby/Diva Marketing
: Since AMA members make up part of Diva Marketing’s community and I am an AMA past president of the Atlanta Chapter, let’s talk a bit about the heart and soul of AMA ... its volunteers. What will be the role of professional chapters in the future?

How will the relationship between HC and Chapters evolve - or not?

Russ Klein/AMA: Also a great question. If the academic prowess of the AMA is its strategic advantage, then the thousands of volunteers are the unsung heroes that are responsible for converting that AMA advantage into an AMA experience. Understanding that it is the volunteers who are responsible for delivering the first formative AMA experience to new members is a critical recognition for the so-called headquarters of the AMA. There is just no substitute for “being there” and starting with me, I plan to become a familiar face to as many of our chapters as possible.

  • Politicians and Rock N’ Roll bands both know that the secret to build true loyalty and engagement is by being in the markets; stumping or playing music to their constituents.

I am a big believer in local knowledge and that collecting it in person is the best way to learn about the unique minds and moods of the membership and volunteers.

It might be a good idea to change the “headquarters” language to “support center” which better describes the service leadership we are responsible for providing. Simple ideas like that send culture messages to the organization…but we have to be able to walk the talk. I’m sure we are, but we can always be more present at the chapter or event level.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Professional associations struggle with membership attrition and AMA has its challenges in this area. What are your thoughts on how to engage AMA members, and as important, how to keep them engaged with the association?

 Russ Klein/AMA: Engagement is the operative word. Our goal must always be to convert a user’s connection with the AMA, no matter how it begins, into an engaged relationship wherein the AMA is providing the thought and service leadership that can help that individual experience to advance their personal objectives; be that research, publishing, knowledge acquisition, professional training and development, career networking and camaraderie, problem solving, or identifying marketing strategies and best practices for growth. If we’re creating value in these ways, membership growth and attrition will take care of themselves.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Dennis Dunlap, immediate past AMA CEO, began an international expansion which involved China. What are your thoughts/plans about growing the association’s footprint both on a global and national basis?

Russ Klein/AMA: We are not about planting flags unless we can get the commensurate returns from a scaled up presence. The opportunity to grow membership and engagement inside the U.S. alone is more than enough to satisfy our needs for growth; so it will require a judicious balance and allocation of resources on our part.

With that in mind the AMA will continue to examine thoughtful expansion outside North America where it makes sense. There’s no question, that not unlike American exports of film and music entertainment, American marketing is viewed as a global standard for which the appetite is large.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What are some of the lessons you bring with you from your time in the fast food industry that will help support your success in this exciting new role?

Russ Klein/AMA: The fast food industry is the most competitive industry in the world, simply because so many companies are competing for the largest consumer dollar in the world; the food dollar.

I’ve already shared my belief that I will bring a very energetic sense of competitiveness to the AMA. Beyond that, the other element the fast food industry has taught me is that the restaurant manager trumps the brand manager every time.

  • Likewise, it will still be our chapter-level execution in delivering a world-class professional experience that will define the AMA, not what my team located in Chicago dreams up and posts online.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Since, of course, Diva Marketing is ‘social media’, which means people-talking-to-people, we’d love to get to know a little about the person behind the AMA logo.  

7 Fun Fact About Russ!

1. Briefcase or backpack…backpack
2. Tablet or laptop…laptop
3. PC or Mac…Mac
4. Favorite word…grateful
5. One of your ‘bucket list’ to dos…build a tree house on my ranch in Colorado and have a family reunion there.
6. Favorite social network…Facebook personal/LinkedIn professional
7. Must have when traveling…running shoes

Toby/Diva Marketing: It’s a Diva Marketing tradition to toss the virtual mic to you and give you an opportunity wrap the interview. Is anything you’d like to say to our community about marketing, digital/social media, AMA or ????? It’s your turn Russ!

Russ Klein/AMA: There’s no better time in business history to be a marketer. Get involved with the AMA and I guarantee you will get back many times over what you devote to it. Together, we’re going to light the path to improve marketing originality and best practices and make it the best profession you’ll ever love!

Positively, Russ

Pink boaToss of a pink boa to AMA colleauges who offered interview question ideas. Sybil Stershic, AMA Board Chair and current AMA training/event instructor, president of Quality Services Marketing; Debra Semans, current AMA training instructor and national AMA board member, Dana Van DenHuvel current AMA training instructor, president of Marketing Savant

Interview With Author Sybil F. Stershic -- Share of Mind, Share of Heart

09/07/2012

Sybil Stershic_3It is with great pleasure that I have the honor of introducing our Diva Marketing community to a dear friend, Sybil Stershic.

Sybil's second book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart, explores the world of nonprofit marketing. The book takes a different slant from other books about NPOs; it focuses on the impact that employees and volunteers have on brand perception.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Sybil, Right from the start of Share of Mind, Share of Heart it’s clear that this is a book that you believe in and that comes from your heart. The Forward sets the direction that nonprofit marketing holds an additional element that may not be as prominent in other industries.  It’s often based on a personal and passionate commitment.

How do you walk the fine line of believing passionately in a cause while maintaining business objectivity?

Sybil Stershic: It can be a challenge, Toby. Passion for the mission is what attracts nonprofit employees, volunteers, donors and other supporters. It helps connect them and keep them engaged with the work of a nonprofit.

But passion for the mission without a bigger picture perspective can be dangerous – it can lead to burnout and a condition known as “mission creep” that dilutes organizational focus. Effective oversight by nonprofit leadership, via the executive staff and board of directors, is needed to maintain a dual focus on both the mission and the organization’s viability. While a strong mission helps drive financial support – i.e., “no mission, no money” – these leaders understand the reverse is also true – “no money, no mission.”

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Your book is full of practical, creative ideas that at first glance seem so simple; however, we know too well that implementation can be a challenge. 

Would you talk to us about what you refer to as “After The First Day” (P 59)? After the initial orientation and excitement about the organization has waned how can we help remind staff and volunteers of the mission and goals and keep them on track?

Sybil Stershic: New staff and volunteers get a lot of attention when they first join the organization. Even in smaller organizations that don’t have formal orientation or on-boarding programs, there’s still an effort to “imprint” the new person with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.

After a while the newbies blend in with other staff and volunteers. If the collective group is not kept informed on an ongoing basis as to what’s happening in the nonprofit and how it’s responding, the people within the organization tend to hunker down and lose sight of the big picture. Job descriptions become outdated; members of the board turn over, yet the staff doesn’t know who the new board members; the strategic plan is updated, but not shared with staff and volunteers; etc.

  • In the absence of ongoing communication, people start to disengage.

What’s amazing, Toby, is that the remedy to this isn’t all that difficult. It involves being intentional in proactively communicating with staff and volunteers. For example, the Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (Whom you introduced me to, thank you! My pleasure Sybil. Bloggy disclaimer: JF&CS is a client.), holds an all-staff meeting the day after each  monthly board of directors’ meeting to share board meeting results along with updates on grants and special events. JF&CS also recognizes and shares volunteer accomplishments in its monthly e-newsletter.

Another great example is the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute that starts staff meetings and board meetings by reading aloud its mission statement to keep everyone focused. These two examples illustrate that keeping the people who help fulfill the mission “in the know” doesn’t require a Herculean effort –  it’s basic communication and engagement via staff meetings, volunteer meetings, internal newsletters, training, staff/volunteer recognition, and special events, as needed.

Diva Marketing/Toby: “So the degree to which you capture and keep consumers’ share of mind and heart is directly influenced by their interactions with your staff and volunteers.” (P 33) I really like this statement ... a lot.

Since Diva Marketing is focused on social media I’m wondering how much of a nonprofit’s online engagement in social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. influences share of mind and heart?

Sybil Stershic: The degree to which a nonprofit uses social networks depends on the organization – its culture, mission, key audiences, etc. That said, social media is a wonderful way to grow share of mind and heart with mission-inspired content.

Sharing stories and pictures of how people benefit from the mission (while not breaching confidentiality) Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart … volunteers or donors sharing their experiences supporting the mission (also reinforcing the ways people can get involved) …  staff members offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of a special event … these stories help bring the mission to life. A nonprofit can also write blog posts and share links to content that educates people about its mission and programs.

While social media advocates say “content is king,” I’d go even further to say “careful content is critical” in that nonprofits need to consider sensitivity in how they present any and all messages that reflect on their mission and brand. A negative impression can easily go viral.

Toby/Diva Marketing:
  What are your thoughts about involving staff, who are not in the marketing department, and also volunteers in participating in social media/networks? Let’s take these two ways.  The first is as one of the “voices” of the nonprofit.

Sybil Stershic: I know this seems like an oxymoron, but any “voice” speaking on behalf of a nonprofit needs to be authentic to be credible, yet carefully managed to ensure the wrong message isn’t put out there. That’s why social media guidelines and training need to be part of both Human Resources and Marketing policies.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The second ... how would you encourage nonprofits to interact with consumers in the digital world?

Sybil Stershic:  The answer to this depends on the organization and its target audiences’ access to and use of social media.

For example, I know a health-related nonprofit that combines both high-tech and low-tech approaches in building share of mind and heart. To broaden its outreach efforts, the marketing director produced a brief educational video as part of an “ambassador portfolio” that also contains a list of frequently asked questions and updated brochures for use by board and staff members. Employee reps show the video when meeting with outside groups or hosting on-site facility tours.

Marketing is also in the process of updating the website to be more engaging. Yet because many of its older board members do not use email, this nonprofit communicates with its board primarily by phone and regular mail.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’ve worked with many different types of nonprofits, and you’ve also worked with for profits. For me your book provides a roadmap that can be easily modified and used by both.  One challenge that both nonprofit and for profits face is opening lines of communication across the organization .. or “de-siloing.” What suggestions can you give us to help that critical process?

Sybil Stershic: The best way to start is to ask employees for their ideas on what works in bridging these silos. They can also help identify which departments or divisions are already doing with well with inter-organizational communications; these areas can serve as role models.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Sybil, as is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, you have the last word. What would you tell our community, especially those marketers working in the nonprofit world?

Sybil Stershic: Recognize your marketing team includes everyone who works in your organization, regardless of the department or function they are assigned. So you need to effectively engage the minds and hearts of the people behind the mission (your employees and volunteers who impact your brand) as well as the people in front of the mission (your consumers and the public).

Thanks, Toby!

Continue the conversation with Sybil!

Quality Services Marketing - website and blog | Share of Mind Share of Heart |Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Emplpyee Customer Care |Twitter @Sybilqsm

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Ben Massell Dental Clinic

12/29/2011

Stars
 As 2011 comes to a close, some people may sigh with relief and then smile with the thought of a new year beginning. If your dental care has been neglected those smiles may be few and far between. However, there is a unique Atlanta nonprofit that is giving smiles back.

Today's Diva Marketing's Shine A Spotlight on smaller nonprofits goes out to the Ben Massell Dental Clinic. Although, it's parent nonprofit organization, JF&CS, might not be considered "small", BMDC is a stand alone entity with it's own staff and budget .. so in our book it counts as a smaller npo.

The Ben Massell Dental Clinic is the only resource for comprehensive, quality dental care available at no cost to Atlanta's neediest population. The clinic provides the most advanced dental care available to thousands of patients each year.

Its 140 volunteer dentists dedicate their time and expertise every month to people who otherwise would not have access to the services it offers. In 2012, the clinic will celebrate its 100 year anniversary. Jf&cs sam massell sign

The BMDC, part of Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta, provides people with basic care not only for their mouths but for their overall health – from general health screenings to counseling. Its dentists come from a variety of backgrounds and faiths, as well as all the major dental specialties, including endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, dentures  and oral surgery. In the last fiscal year, they provided nearly $2.5 million worth of procedures that restored smiles and literally saved lives.

Joseph L. Smith, LMSW, the social services program manager at the BMDC, is our story teller. He graciously takes us behind the scenes and shares his experiences of what it's like to work at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic.

A graduate of the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology, Joseph was part of the wave of residents forced to leave the city by Hurricane Katrina. He knows what it’s like falling on hard times and then being picked up by the generosity of others. 

After receiving a master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in social work with an emphasis on mental health, Joseph joined the BMDC staff in June 2007. He is responsible for connecting the clinic’s patients to social services in the community and facilitates mental health testing, support groups and psychoeducational sessions at the clinic.

Rachel Simons, JF&CS Program Manager, asked Joseph what inspires him and this is what he told her.

Joesph Smith_BMSC ManagerJoesph L. Smith - As the social worker at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, my job is to help connect patients with sometimes life-saving resources.

Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to help thousands of patients, but their perseverance and fortitude in the face of economic, mental health, health and other adversities have helped me the most. They constantly remind me of the power of the human spirit. 

I admire each and every one of the clinic’s patients. One of the patients who I admire the most is fighting the battle of her life -- stage four cancer. This patient faced eviction, hunger, cancer and the six to 12 months her doctor gave her to live.  We were able to connect her with food, resources to improve her life circumstances and a counselor to whom she could talk to help her through her tough situation. 

It is now a year later and she is in remission.

This patient’s life-altering experience has truly changed my life. It has caused me to look deeper inside of myself for the fortitude to continue to fight and advocate for the clinic’s patients.

I am generally a happy person, but she has taught me the true value in smiling in the face of adversity, never giving up hope and living each day to its complete fullest. Patients like her are the reason why I love being a social worker at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic.

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Bloggy disclaimer (and brargging rights!): I was honored to be highlighted by the JF&CS as a volunteer of the month

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

12/28/2010

Stars This December the winds blew colder than usual and for many their winter wonderland turned life into a world of isolation. For nonprofits, who depend on the kindness of strangers, this year especially, with the challenges of the economy it seemed to feel as thought they were fighting the battle for their cause alone.

During this month Diva Marketing is shining the light on a few smaller nonprofits. It is our hope that stories you read will inspire you to help in ways that fit with your life .. be it a donation, an hour of volunteer time, a Facebook status update or an extra tweet.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is as unique and personal as its name. Alzheimer's can impact the lives of its victims and their families in much the same way as the winter blizzards can wrap you in isolation and fear. However, through the works created by Ami Simms and a group of gifted quilters there is hope and warmth.

The story of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is told by it's founder Ami Simms.

I am a quilter. I founded Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative in the midst of my mother's 7-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease because I had to do something. I don't know how to cure disease, but I do know how
Mom&Ami to quilt.  I have a voice in the quilting community and I thought this was the time to open my mouth. Photo of Ami and her Mom. 

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells. With cell death come memory loss and cognitive decline. Alzheimer's isn't forgetting where you went on vacation in 1997, it’s the gradual loss of every memory you ever had, every skill you ever learned, and every relationship you ever held dear. You lose yourself, bit by bit. So far, there are no survivors.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) is a grassroots, Internet-based effort to raise awareness and fund research through art. We sponsor a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's called Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope. Fifty-three small format art quilts explore the disease from a variety of perspectives. They are shown with 182 "Name Quilts," each a 6-inch by 7-foot quilted panel of names of people who have/had Alzheimer's or a related dementia. There are more than 10,000 names in all, written by family members and friends.

The AAQI sells and auctions donated quilts, more than 6,100 so far. The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt project offers a way for quilters to grieve the loss of a loved one with needle and thread. Those who can't thread a needle can open their wallets to honor their efforts and fund research. (See our Quilts For Sale page.) 

Since 2006, our all-volunteer charity has raised nearly $500,000 for Alzheimer's research, one quilt at a time. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative auctions small quilts the first 10 days of every month. Please visit us to see the quilts in the January auction and to participate in the online auction. AGI _ umbrella of hope  

Social Media Does Social Good

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative does not maintain a traditional "donor list" of names and street addresses. Instead, we rely on virtual "word of mouth."

1. Every donated quilt gets its own web page that includes a photograph of the quilt, information about the quilt, and a place for a dedication if the artist wishes. Donors are encouraged to email, blog, facebook, and tweet when their quilt is up for auction or available on our web site to purchase. We facebook and tweet the number of every quilt sold.

2. All news about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is disseminated via email, facebook, and/or RSS feed to our AAQIUpdate blog. Donations are accepted through our website and through 3,000-member facebook causes page. We are listed and reviewed in GreatNonprofits.com 

3. Supporters help us by placing our logo (linked back to our home page) on their blogs and web pages. 

The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative auctions small quilts the first 10 days of every month. Please visit us to see the quilts in the January auction and to participate in the online auction.  

AQI Logo Learn More About Alzeheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

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