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  • 01/24/2022 8:14 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Kristen Spargo, MHSCN board member

    As healthcare communications professionals, we often plan our pitches around awareness months. So in that spirit, MHSCN is celebrating mentoring this January, as this month is (drum roll…) National Mentoring Month. The effort started in 2002, to promote opportunities to build connections between young people and adults. Professionally, mentorship is invaluable, particularly as you start your career.

    My first boss Charri Boykin-East taught me the importance of having different skill sets on a team. I remember sitting in her office overwhelmed by my inability to calm the chaos of my scattered desk — and brain. My colleague Jesse was an unflappable paper processor. To reassure me of my self-worth, she said: “Spargo, if we had a team full of Jesses, we’d never have a creative idea — and if we had a team full of Spargos, we’d never make a deadline.”

    In the 27 years (gulp) since that first “professional” role, I’ve had countless mentors — and been a mentor to others. But as a consultant, I’ve had to seek out opportunities to pay-it-forward from a mentoring perspective; my dog is uninterested in my acquired wisdom.

    An opportunity came in early June 2020, as protests erupted around the murder of George Floyd. Just as I was acknowledging — and seeking to correct — the lack of diversity in my communications network, I saw a post by Clayton Bradbury, a young Black Metro State recent graduate giving some “tough love” to the PR industry for being “depressingly and overwhelmingly white.” I reached out to Clayton and his friend and Metro State classmate Tiffany Tolliver, who had commented on his post.

    Clayton wanted to pursue freelancing and consulting. So I shared sample proposals, offered client advice and brought him into a project. Tiffany was pursuing a full-time job, so I forwarded job leads, introduced her to contacts, reviewed her resume, and did a mock interview. She updated me on jobs she was applying to, and if I knew people at the company, I connected her to them.

    Tiffany impressed me with her optimism and perseverance in her job search. I admit I was frustrated: organizations across the Twin Cities were declaring a commitment to diversifying their workforce, and here was an exceptional candidate, who just needed that first job after completing her degree as a nontraditional student. She eventually landed a role this past summer at RBC Wealth Management-US and gained experience as a Corporate Communications intern. In December, she started a full-time position with HealthPartners, joining our ranks as a health care communications professional. (Welcome to the field, Tiffany!)

    To celebrate Tiffany’s new job and provide continued access to professional development and networking opportunities, I’m giving her a membership to MHSCN. If you have a mentee, I encourage you to do the same. In the coming months, we’re building the functionality to purchase a membership for someone else on the MHSCN website. In the meantime, you can contact president Cory Docken.

    Now that Tiffany has found a job, she is sharing her hard-earned job-seeking wisdom with others. She always emphasizes the importance of networking and keeping those connections strong. Her new boss Catherine Scott started her career on my team at Padilla 15 years ago.

  • 01/20/2022 12:00 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Cory Docken, MHSCN board president

    Hello and welcome to the New Year with MHSCN.

    I am honored to be this year's MHSCN president, as this group has been an integral part of my healthcare career. Since 2018, I've been involved as a member, sponsor and board member. My participation in MHSCN has added value to my full-time role as vice president of digital strategy at O8, a Minneapolis-based digital marketing agency.

    There's no doubt that the past two years have been unprecedented — and at times unbearable. Being involved with the MHSCN board, as well as serving healthcare clients, has given me an up close view of what healthcare marketers and communicators have faced. I want to give a huge shout-out to all of you, particularly those of you who work in clinics, hospitals, and health systems for everything you did — and keep doing — to help your organization push through these challenging times.

    Now more than ever we want MHSCN to provide value. We have a committed and energetic board that's working hard to make 2022 a banner year for MHSCN. An area of focus this year will be to continue to boost the value of our membership, whether through education programming or networking with peers. So, please share your feedback in our periodic surveys. Our board wants to understand how best we can support and serve our members. Your feedback will inform our planning for events in 2022, as well as other programs like our annual awards. On the sponsorship side, our president-elect and I are developing packages that will enable you to connect with members and raise awareness of your products and services.

    As we transition to a new year, I want to thank past-president Emily Lowther for her leadership in 2021, and welcome our newest board members: Aimee Jordan, Jenna Sheldon, Madeline Riggs and Kristen Spargo. We appreciate their commitment to this organization.

    I invite you to contact me at cory@o8.agency to discuss potential sponsorship opportunities, any programmatic or event ideas or just to say hello. I look forward to seeing you at our events this year!

  • 01/03/2022 11:36 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Each year, MHSCN publishes an annual report to provide a snapshot of our activities and accomplishments. Our 2021 annual report is now available on our website.

    MHSCN pivoted to offering virtual education and networking events in 2021, to meet members’ needs for education and connection. In October, the COVID-19 situation in Minnesota allowed us to host our first in-person conference in nearly two years, which incorporated stringent safety measures.

    View the report for an overview of how we served members and guests in 2021.

  • 01/01/2022 1:34 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Welcome to the newest member of the MHSCN board of directors!

    Meet Jenna Sheldon

    Jenna is an experienced communicator in a variety of sectors, including health care, nonprofits and higher education. Originally from Minnesota, Jenna has spent recent years working across the U.S., now returning home to fill her role as the director of communications at the Minnesota Hospital Association. She is excited to continue her passion of communications for the health care community and to be part of work in advancing the health of individuals and communities.

  • 12/21/2021 1:22 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Emily Lowther, president, MHSCN board of directors

    In late October, the MHSCN board was overjoyed to present our 2021 fall conference, “Evolution: The Transformation of Healthcare Marketing and Communications,” to a group of over 70 in-person and virtual attendees. As I shared in my opening remarks at the event, getting to conference day was a journey.

    Before October, we had not come together in person since our 2019 fall conference in Duluth. We had just opened registration for our spring 2020 conference when the pandemic arrived in Minnesota, introducing unexpected challenges to our personal and professional lives that we still feel today. After nearly two years of providing digital education and networking while we remained physically distant, this October we were able to offer a hybrid conference model to meet the needs of virtual and in-person attendees.

    I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to my colleagues on the MHSCN board for making our fall conference a reality. Planning a simultaneous in-person and virtual event – all against the backdrop of the pandemic – is no small feat. MHSCN benefits from the partnership and leadership of all of our board members.

    We are also grateful for our conference sponsors and our sustaining sponsors. Many thanks to:

    Most importantly, thank you to our members and guests for joining us at the fall conference. We appreciated being together – both in person and virtually – and we look forward to continuing to reconnect, regardless of what comes our way in 2022.

  • 11/15/2021 12:30 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Welcome to the newest members of the MHSCN board of directors!

    Meet Madeline Riggs

    Madeline is an independent communications consultant with more than 20 years of healthcare experience. Madeline brings extensive experience in strategic planning, reputation management, brand positioning, content strategy, media relations and crisis communications.

    Meet Kristen Spargo

    Kristen is an experienced writer and communications strategist who specializes in health care, education and nonprofits. After six years of running her own consulting practice, she is excited to bring on a co-pilot: her husband, John Aiken. In January 2022, they're launching Take Flight Communications.

  • 11/01/2021 8:55 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    MHSCN's 2021 fall conference explored the evolution and transformation of health care marketing and communications in light of the change and disruption of the past two years. MHSCN members can view the conference slides.

  • 09/02/2021 8:26 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    Over the last two years, the health care sector has experienced immense change and disruption. Join your colleagues on Oct. 29 at MHSCN’s 2021 fall conference to explore the evolution and transformation of health care marketing and communications.

    The End of the Runway: Consumerism, COVID-19 and the Coming Decade

    COVID-19 has driven significant changes in consumer behavior, some of which may stick for years. A number of these changes play into the advantages of new and non-traditional healthcare providers, such as Walmart Health, Walgreens or Teledoc Health, at the expense of hospitals, health systems and other traditional providers.

    While traditional providers have had years to react to the trend of consumerism, the honeymoon may be over. Those providers who want to keep ahead of the new competition and stay relevant to healthcare consumers need to understand these changes and their implications, and act quickly and decisively to stay ahead.

    Chris Bevolo, executive vice president, chief brand officer, ReviveHealth, has provided leadership and guidance in the areas of strategy, brand, marketing, digital, and change management to hospitals and health systems across the country for more than 20 years.

    Chris is an award-winning author of six books, including Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital, which became a field guide for driving transformation in hospital marketing departments across the country. He is a frequent keynote speaker and featured presenter on healthcare marketing and branding topics.

    Before joining ReviveHealth, Chris was the owner and lead strategist of Interval, a Minneapolis-based healthcare marketing firm he founded in 1995. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Iowa State University and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

    Covering COVID-19 from the Front Lines

    Pulitzer Prize-winning healthcare journalist Jeremy Olson has been reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic for the Star Tribune since its inception. He has covered the pandemic from all angles – from the rise of the virus to its deadly spread to long-term healthcare facility outbreaks, hospital capacity issues and provider fatigue to daily spread to vaccine development and implementation to the most recent rise of the highly infectious delta variant. While reporting, Jeremy has relied upon information and contacts in the state and federal government, healthcare organizations, providers from around the state, patients, academia and more. Listen to his story firsthand and learn how communicators can work with reporters like Jeremy to help him provide the best, most accurate and objective information possible to the public.

    Jeremy Olson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering health care for the Star Tribune. Trained in investigative and computer-assisted reporting, he has covered politics, social services and family issues.

    A University of St. Thomas graduate, Jeremy completed fellowships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Poynter Institute and New York Times. Honors include a Premack Public Affairs award for scrutinizing a schizophrenia drug trial, a SABEW award for uncovering abuses of meatpackers and a Casey Medal for examining deaths in foster care. His Pulitzer-winning series on child care led to a decline in child deaths. He and his family live in Edina.

    The State of Mental Health of Healthcare Systems and National Trends

    With the COVID-19 pandemic heading into its second year, the impact it has had on the U.S. healthcare industry cannot be underestimated. From severe nurse shortages, early retirements, constant changes and many unknowns, there are a wide range of issues we have not encountered previously. This presentation by Liz Ferron will help you understand what is happening with healthcare employees today and how you can support them and your organizational goals. Liz will share trends and observations she’s seeing from the 40+ healthcare systems she supports with the goal of helping you understand the issues to be better prepared when your staff are struggling.

    Liz Ferron, MSW, LICSW, physician practice lead, has practiced at VITAL WorkLife since 2001 and has her master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota. Liz assisted with the development of the physician and healthcare solutions for VITAL WorkLife, and currently oversees the execution of many of these solutions. Liz has contributed to the development and analysis of national surveys, has presented on physician well-being at national and regional conferences and has been published in several medical journals.

    Currently, Liz provides training and consultation to healthcare administrators and individual practitioners in the areas of stress management, navigating change and effective communication. To strengthen her ability to assist healthcare professionals in building resiliency, Liz has completed programs in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindful Self Compassion offered by the Center of Spirituality at the University of Minnesota, and the “Transform Your Life” resiliency program offered by Amit Sood, M.D., of Mayo Clinic.

    Dismantling Systems of Harm: Racial Trauma in Healthcare

    During this presentation, Dr. Asfia Qaadir will provide attendees with an overview of racial trauma throughout history in healthcare settings and why this matters in their roles as healthcare strategists and communicators today. Dr. Qaadir will also get into the biology of trauma and what it truly means to address and affect systemic change when it comes to issues around diversity, equity and inclusion within healthcare organizations.

    Asfia Qaadir, D.O., is the clinical director at PrairieCare Maplewood and was recently named clinical consultant to diversity, equity and inclusion for the organization. In this role, Dr. Qaadir oversees the integration of DEI in clinical care across PrairieCare’s multiple locations. PrairieCare is a Twin Cities-based psychiatric health care organization dedicated to providing mental health care for children, adolescents and adults.

    Dr. Qaadir has been an attending physician at PrairieCare since 2016 and assumed the role of clinical director at PrairieCare Maplewood in 2020. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago and medical school degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr Qaadir completed her residency and subspecialty training in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

    Holistic Digital: A New Approach to Driving Results

    Holistic digital is a data-driven, “growth marketing” approach that drives leads and revenues by increasing the productivity of your digital marketing. When SEO, UX and CRO are considered as one and implemented properly, it leads to optimized website/digital marketing that produces incremental results. Keyword strategy and relevance can significantly impact conversions while page layout and content strategy impact SEO, PPC and other traffic. Optimizing conversion rates depends on a clear understanding of the user journey, neuromarketing and persuasive design psychology. It can be complicated, but when broken down it can be understood by all.

    Cory Docken is the vice president of digital strategy at O8, an agency in Minneapolis, helping clients on a national level take a holistic approach to their digital marketing initiatives. He has over 20 years of design, marketing and technology expertise, working with both small and large clients across retail, higher ed, healthcare and B2B. In his career he has helped world-class brands tackle their most complex marketing technology projects with his knowledge of strategy, design and development.

    Outside of O8, he is the 2022 president-elect of MHSCN (Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network), as well associate vice president of programming with AMA (American Marketing Association) Minnesota.

    Maximizing Media Interviews in Good Times and Bad

    We all know the media is a valuable conduit to reaching key stakeholders, whether your organization is communicating vital COVID-related health information, launching a new initiative or is in the midst of a crisis. This session will help you prepare your spokespeople – executives, providers, leaders, etc. – by building their confidence with the tools and techniques to maximize any media opportunity. You'll also explore strategies for creating solid key messages, avoiding common pitfalls and answering tough questions.

    Liz Miklya, senior vice president, corporate issues, Weber Shandwick, is a strategic storyteller; helping clients tell their organizations’ stories to key stakeholders in a way that’s credible, memorable and influential. Liz does that through messaging strategy, executive and spokesperson interview training, presentation training and crisis counsel.

    A former Emmy-award winning journalist with 10 years in the business, she helps clients across the country prepare for interviews related to product or campaign launches, crises and other developments.

    Liz has provided media training and key message strategy for dozens of clients in a variety of industries including healthcare, retail, government and technology. Liz received her master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her bachelor’s degree in government is from Harvard University.

    Sound compelling?

    Register today!

  • 07/23/2021 7:00 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    The MHSCN Awards of Excellence are returning for 2021! The awards honor exceptional efforts in health care strategic planning, marketing, public relations and communications from the past year.

    Award submissions will be accepted in five categories:

    • Best in Public Relations: This category recognizes projects designed to build and maintain relationships with various publics and create a positive image or reputation for the organization within its broader community. MHSCN members and nonmembers are eligible to submit entries in this category.
    • Best in Marketing: This category recognizes projects that used outreach strategies to urge members of a specific target market to take a specific action. MHSCN members and nonmembers are eligible to submit entries in this category.
    • Best in Communications: This category recognizes projects that involved designing resonant messages, delivering them to your intended audiences through the right channels, and receiving feedback. MHSCN members and nonmembers are eligible to submit entries in this category.
    • MHSCN Professional of the Year: This category honors a health care communicator, marketer or public relations professional who has demonstrated exceptional skills and leadership in health care communications, marketing or public relations. To be considered for the award, the nominee must be a MHSCN member. Self-nominations are welcome.
    • MHSCN Rising Star: This category honors a health care communicator, marketer or public relations professional in the first five years of their career in health care communications, marketing or public relations who demonstrates strong abilities and growing expertise in health care communications. To be considered for the award, the nominee must be a MHSCN member. Self-nominations are welcome.

    The entry fee is $50 for the first submission and $25 for each additional submission from the same individual.

    Awards will be presented at the MHSCN Fall Conference.

    With questions, complete our contact form.

  • 06/02/2021 2:30 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Cory Docken, president-elect, MHSCN board of directors

    Hello MHSCN members, I hope your summer is off to a great start. There is no doubt that this past year has been unlike any other and as things start to evolve back into a sense of normalcy, I want to reflect on some important things I learned during this trying time, in particular around the topic of mental health.

    Being involved with the MHSCN board as well as having healthcare clients has given me a first-hand view of what healthcare marketers and communicators were dealing with this past year. I witnessed their roles descend into that of crisis communicators, often working double the hours, and with some of my close colleagues sleeping in their own offices. Some even pivoted to operational roles to help with the influx of patients. I couldn’t believe it. I want to give a huge shout-out to all those that work in clinics, hospitals, and health systems for everything you did and keep doing to help your organization get through an incredibly challenging time in history.

    One thing is for certain: with trying times comes stress. If there is one thing we witnessed, it’s that the challenges of this last year pushed us to our limits, including with our mental well-being.

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides the following mental health facts:

    • Mental illnesses affect 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness.
    • Examples of mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder.
    • Mental illnesses can disrupt a person’s thinking, feelings, or mood.
    • Mental illnesses may affect someone’s daily functioning or ability to relate to others.
    • These illnesses are biological, affecting brain structure and chemistry, and have many causes, including genetics, the environment, and negative life experiences.
    • Mental illnesses respond to a variety of treatments, however, early intervention is critical to aid in recovery.

    Over this last year, I witnessed some clients ceasing operations, plenty of furloughs and it was very common for organizations to freeze spending on the marketing of products or services. It was a very uncertain time for business.

    Facing these challenges and seeing my colleagues face similar challenges made me think about mental health more than ever. I found myself doing things like talking to my primary care provider about mental health for the first time, cranking up the bike rides, changing my diet, and checking in with friends and family members to ensure they were doing ok.

    As things start to awaken and get back to normal, let’s not forget about our mental health. There will always be challenges in our life, maybe even another pandemic (hopefully not!). Talking about mental health and checking in on ourselves and others is something we can make a habit of doing. There are people who care and help is available. In addition to your primary care provider, NAMI Minnesota provides a great starting point for mental health resources.

    I hope you all have a fantastic summer and take the time to enjoy yourself! Thank you for being a part of MHSCN.

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