Log in


  • 01/22/2018 4:19 PM | Katie Johnson

    photo of highway exit signphoto of Katie JohnsonGrowing up on a dairy farm meant trips out of town were few and far between. "After all," Mom would say, “the cows don’t just milk themselves, you know.” 

    Three-hour road trips to visit aunts and uncles in the Twin Cities were a big deal. Wide-eyed in the back seat, anticipation would build as we approached the city. 

    The increasing frequency of green exit signs, coupled with Mom’s increasing anxiety and passenger-side-braking, indicated good times ahead. The first time “Bass Lake Road” appeared on an exit sign, all passengers were on high alert to ensure we didn’t miss the off-ramp.

    The green exit signs I saw on my way home from our January MHSCN board meeting brought back those feelings of childhood anticipation. I left this meeting and strategic planning session knowing good things are just ahead for MHSCN.

    To everyone who took the time to complete our recent survey, thank you. Your feedback gives us direction to better serve our members and prospective members and will be valuable in shaping our future. I'd summarize the highlights of our findings and next steps this way:

    1. MHSCN matters. We serve a niche in the healthcare marketing, communications and strategy space that no one else does. We will update our Mission Statement and Board Structure in 2018 to better reflect and fulfill this purpose.
    2. Content is king. We hear you loud and clear. MHSCN needs to deliver more:
      • content for higher level professionals
      • short-format events that include both learning and networking
      • opportunities at different times of the day or days of the week
      • places to get content – webinars, case studies, virtual conferences and out-state locations
    3. Members want to engage. We hear you loud and clear. MHSCN needs to deliver more. For members who can’t or prefer not to serve on the MHSCN board, we’ll identify more opportunities to engage you in the work of your chapter, including small project subcommittees, conference volunteer options or networking through volunteering.

    We are also exploring Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) Chapter Affiliation and believe this will be a partnership that will strengthen MHSCN’s content, connections and overall value. Stay tuned.

    Finally, a quick shout out to welcome our new board members. Allison, Amy, Martha and Erika have joined the ranks of the bright, dedicated, forward-looking professionals who volunteer their time to keep MHSCN relevant. 

    Our eyes are on the road, and the signs will lead us on a really great trip in 2018.

    Katie Johnson
    MHSCN president, 2018

  • 01/18/2018 8:01 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    The Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network thanks these members for adding their expertise and energy to the MHSCN Board of Directors:

    They started their two-year terms on January 1. 

    Interested in joining our great group of volunteer board members? Contact Mary Beth Schwartz.

    Membership Co-Chair

    photo of Allison Bendickson

    Allison Bendickson

    Communications and Fundraising Coordinator

    Senior Community Services


    I graduated from Bethel University with a bachelor's in marketing in 2011. I went on to volunteer/intern at numerous nonprofits, including the MS Society, Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota and the Arthritis Foundation. 

    I began at Senior Community Services as the communications and fundraising assistant in April of 2015 and moved into the coordinator role at the beginning of 2017. I recently completed the fundraising certificate in the Executive Education School of the University of St. Thomas.

    In my personal life, I volunteer with the Maple Grove Community Organization, helping to put together the city's biggest event of the year: Maple Grove Days. I live with my boyfriend of two years in Golden Valley along with Allie, our 1 year old standard-size, dachshund mix puppy. 

    Awards Co-Chair

    photo of Amy Martin

    Amy Martin

    Wellness / Community Engagement

    Hutchinson Health


    I am a wellness program coordinator for Hutchinson Health, with whom I have been employed with for over 10 years. 

    My education background includes a bachelor of science (BS) degree in medical technology and a master of science (MS) degree in community health.  

    I am married with three children (ages 14, 16 and 20). I live in Winthrop, Minn. 

    Networking Co-Chair

    photo of Martha Parsons

    Martha Parsons


    Parsons Communications LLC


    As owner of Parsons Communications, L. L. C., I help clients uncover, shape and tell their stories. 

    I'm a communications strategist, writer and editor accomplished at marketing, public relations and public affairs. I help organizations ask tougher questions to better understand how their communications can hit home.

    Program Co-Chair 

    photo of Erika Peterson

    Erika Peterson

    Relationship Manager

    Creatis, Inc.


    I studied classical music in college and ended up with a business degree. Every role prior to Creatis was either in music, the arts - places where I could flex my right brain. 

    The part I always excelled at was “people.” Whether helping leadership teams get the right people in the right seats, helping entrepreneurs write process, recruiting, or running a start-up, it all comes back to WHO is doing the work. The team must gel, and it gives me great satisfaction to help build great teams and successful relationships every day. It’s the people who give a business its heart. 

    I say it all the time, "If I’m not helping or learning, I’m not fulfilled." What I do allows me to do both of those things every day; we help a lot of people match up with great clients around the Twin Cities. Based on the sheer number of people I meet every day, I’m always learning something new.

  • 12/19/2017 7:27 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    It's a great time to Join MHSCN – or renew your membership!

    Now until Friday, Feb. 16, we're offering a 25% discount on our already affordable $60 membership rate for new and renewing members. 

    And, we’ll send you a beautiful MHSCN thermal mug.  

    You'll be the envy of your department coffee klatch! 

    It's simple. Here’s what you do:

    1. Go to mhscn.com/membership.
    2. Select your membership level. Enter your email address, and complete a security check to advance to the application form.
    3. As you complete your application, be sure to provide your address. 
    4. Enter MHSCNmug in the discount code field. The membership fee will go down $15 to only $45.
    5. When a membership co-chair confirms your membership, he or she will make sure an insulated beverage mug is mailed to your address.
  • 12/18/2017 8:58 AM | Deleted user

    I can’t help myself – those tried and true year-end messages are resonating with me. As the remaining days of 2017 fly by, I’m looking back on my year as president of MHSCN and forward to lots of change in 2018, both at MHSCN and in my own career. 

    I wish I had the ability to see what comes next, but that doesn’t seem to be how it works! Sometimes a leap of faith is required. 

    I'm proud of what MHSCN accomplished this year. We did try some new things, as promised back in January. Some of them worked well (a great new website/membership platform, two stellar conferences, streamlined internal processes), others not so much. But we’re willing to learn from our missteps, and we’re listening to you – current, past, and future members – to help us determine the direction we should take as an organization.

    As Katie Johnson prepares to take the helm as president in 2018, we already have some exciting things to look forward to: 

    You’ll hear more about both events starting in January, and we encourage you to save the dates and start making plans to join us.

    We will also be welcoming a number of new board members, and I’m excited about what this group of engaged and committed leaders can do together. With a strategic plan informed by your thoughtful input, I’m confident that MHSCN will continue to evolve as an organization and earn the support of even more communications, marketing, and public relations professionals working in health care.

    Personally, I’m so grateful for MHSCN and all that it has given me. As I search for my next career opportunity, I believe I’m a better leader because of my experience on the board. I know that my network is much stronger than before I got involved. It is heartening to have the support of so many who are willing to listen, provide thoughtful counsel, and make introductions to friends and colleagues. 

    It always amazes me how small the Minnesota health care communications world really is – which makes it even more important to nurture those relationships with the help of an organization like MHSCN.

    In closing, I want to take this opportunity to thank the board for their hard work this year. I especially want to thank those who are ending their service: Jenna Anderson, Angela Churchill, Sue Lundquist, Rosann Maher, Sara Peterson, and Diane Rose.

    Best wishes to all of you this holiday season. I hope you can take some time away from work to relax and enjoy the season with your families.

    Mary Beth Schwartz
    MHSCN President, 2017

  • 11/27/2017 9:13 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    Katie Johnson, MHSCN President Elect

    At this time of thanksgiving and celebration, our thoughts turn gratefully to you with warm appreciation... This is how a holiday season column should start, right?  BLAH, BLAH, BLAH – you’ve probably already tuned out.

    I do not mean to minimize how grateful we are for our members. I do, however, want to turn the tables on the gratitude babble rampant during this time of year and ask for a more thoughtful consideration of your membership and what it means to you personally.

    Why did you join MHSCN or engage with us in the first place?

    What benefits do you expect from your membership and affiliation? 

    How well does MHSCN deliver on those expectations? 

    If you really want to feel some love from me and the other board members, please share your feedback with us on these topics in our membership survey – coming soon to your inbox.

    You see, we’re doing some soul searching and strategy planning to answer some difficult questions about our relevance as a professional development organization and how to combat declining membership.

    We’re learning this is not unique to our industry. To get real answers to drive appropriate action, we need to hear from you.

    An open board seat with your name on it

    Further, if you feel strongly that MHSCN serves a purpose in your career and you seek to serve and build an association “characterized by innovation, empowerment, inclusion, collaboration and purpose” as referenced in the linked article above – we’ve got an open board seat with your name on it! 

    We are currently recruiting for board members with an interest in membership, communications and webmaster skill areas. Check out these job descriptions and contact Angela Churchill if interested:

    Truly, sincere gratitude

    For me, the friendships, knowledge, connections and resources I've gained through my involvement in MHSCN are golden. So I'll close with the gratitude message that is truly sincere. 

    Thanks for reading this far and thanks in advance for your participation in our survey and consideration of board service. 

    More importantly, thank you for your involvement in MHSCN. You do belong here, and we value your contributions.

  • 11/03/2017 10:04 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    Swing into actionIn your drive to be the best, there’s nothing like learning from your peers and expanding your network.

    During the MHSCN fall conference on Friday, Nov. 3, health care communicators and marketers elevated their game with a great line-up of speakers covering a wide range of topics.

    The Opioid Crisis in the Era of Fake News

    When the topic is the opioid crisis, what is fact and what it fiction – especially in this era of information overload? Exactly how widespread and long-term is the opioid problem? 

    Carol Falkowski is one of Minnesota's foremost experts on drug abuse. Her presentation highlighted the nature and scope of the opioid crisis and outlined the challenges of effectively addressing it on multiple fronts. Presenter is 

    Carol FalkowskiCarol Falkowski, CEO of Drug Abuse Dialogues, is the former director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. 

    She has been part of a nationwide drug abuse surveillance network of the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1986. She was director of research communications at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation for a decade. 

    Falkowski has served as an advisor to federal, state and private agencies, including the FDA, the Department of Justice, the Rand Corporation, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. She has been quoted in USA Today, New York Times, the BBC, National Public Radio, CNN with Anderson Cooper and the Today Show. She is currently CEO of Drug Abuse Dialogues, a local training and consultation organization.

    Engaging Physicians in Healthcare PR

    Physicians are highly credible sources of healthcare information for consumers and the community. This presentation focused on how Hennepin County Medical Center’s Dr. David Hilden has embraced his role as the organization’s medical spokesperson and developed the Healthy Matters platform – which includes a weekly radio show, podcasts and blog. 

    Tips and tactics for media training and engaging physicians in public relations activities were part of this engaging session.

    Christine HillChristine Hill is the senior media relations specialist at Hennepin County Medical Center where she manages all aspects of media relations for HCMC by coordinating interviews, pitching stories, writing news releases, and responding to requests from reporters for interviews and information.

    David HildenDavid Hilden, MD, MPH, FACP, is an internal medicine physician at Hennepin County Medical Center. He is the interim department chief and cares for adults facing acute illness in the hospital as well as chronic conditions in the clinic. 

    He also has expertise in population health and medical education, and strives to promote wellness with his patients not only when sick but in all aspects of their lives. 

    Among other awards, he received the Physician Communicator Award from Minnesota Medical Association in 2010.

    Leveraging Live Video to Engage Your Audience

    If you're not using live video to help share your healthcare stories, you're missing out, and so is your audience. Sharing video is easier than ever and anyone can do it. There is still a place for highly produced video in healthcare communications, but the advent of live video and the ability to shoot on your cell phone has changed the landscape of what people expect in terms of content and how it is delivered. 

    This session showed how you can use live video on social media to tell communicate unique stories from your organization including news, events, patient and/or physician interviews, tours and more. We also went over equipment basics, best shooting techniques and various publishing methods.

    Nick HansonNick Hanson has worked in healthcare communications for more than a decade. He has held positions at the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center, Mayo Clinic and currently manages media and social strategy at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. 

    Hanson has expertise in crisis communication, public affairs campaigns, social media/digital strategy and media relations. 

    Hanson was a digital strategist at Himle Rapp and Company and worked for Carmichael Lynch Relate. He was also a reporter at the St. Cloud Times and Mankato Free Press.

    Be the Change: Eliminating Stigma
    Around Mental Health and Addiction

    Engaging employees in things they care about is key to successfully changing culture within any organization. Allina Health recently launched Be the Change, an effort to eliminate stigma around mental health and addiction conditions within the organization. 

    This presentation explained how robust internal communication strategies, active engagement from employees, and various employee activities aimed at building awareness and changing behavior helped Allina Health see significant improvement in employee perceptions about the organization and its effort to support these patients.

    Aimee PappenfusAimee Pappenfus manages community partnerships in support of the Allina Health community health priority areas of healthy eating/active living and mental wellness. 

    She also oversees large scale system-wide events and activities within Allina Health, including the Mission Matters employee volunteerism program, charitable contributions, and the large community engagement effort Free Bikes 4 Kidz.

    Ellie HackenmillerEllie Hackenmiller was a co-leader of Be the Change. 

    She also leads several internal initiatives to engage employees in projects that spark a passion. They include the Allina Health Global Fund, which provides financial assistance to employees who volunteer outside of the Allina Health service area, and the Medical Supply Donation Program.

    Resiliency: Not Just a Buzzword

    Resiliency is being discussed in lots of contexts, but what does it really mean?  How can it be applied to my work?  Or my organization?  What tips can I learn to help support my team or other healthcare workers?  

    This presentation provides some definitions, tips and tools for how to bolster a resilient organization and a more resilient you.

    Melanie SullivanMel Sullivan joined Constellation from Twin Cities Orthopedics (TCO) in October 2016, where she had served as the chief operating officer and directed the merger of TCO and St. Croix Orthopaedics. 

    Now as Constellation’s first chief people officer, Sullivan is committed to supporting people and advancing talent strategies, while building engagement and developing and supporting multiple teams. She is also responsible for assessing the industry and market space, proposing and locating partners and collaborators, and developing an external advisory council.

    House Calls: Don’t Leave Your Consumer Mindset
    Behind When Creating B2B Healthcare Content

    You’re so consumer you don’t even know it. You think like one. You certainly buy like one. Now you need to start strategizing and executing like one. 

    Healthcare is dominating every aspect of our work and professional lives, especially as we collectively embrace the broader concept of well-being. Yet too often healthcare marketing is perceived as being comprised of dry, policy-oriented content or blink-and-you-miss-them cookie-cutter visuals. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Andy JacobsonAndy Jacobson, HealthFitness director of strategic communications, will share how he and his team follow a “consumer is king” mindset when developing a B2B content strategy, executing against it and determining the best means of sharing its elements. Jacobson sets strategy and direction for external communications outreach, encompassing digital, PR and social media for HealthFitness. 

    An East Coaster by birth and Minnesotan by choice, Jacobson spent nearly 15 years in the agency world prior to joining HealthFitness.

  • 10/26/2017 9:09 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    Katie Johnson, MHSCN President Elect

    As I sit down to write this article on resiliency, lyrics to the 1977 Jackson Browne song “Running on Empty” run through my mind. Can you relate?

    As we on the MHSCN Board discussed content possibilities for the upcoming Fall Conference, consensus around the table suggested “resilience” is a topic we could all use help developing, especially while “running on empty” amidst the changes, stressors and demands of our professional roles.

    re·sil·ience -  rəˈzilyəns/

    According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the “process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress…..our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don't go as planned.”

    The statement most interesting to me in their description of resiliency was this: “Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary.”

    Resilience, they say, is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

    This is good news for me and for all of us hoping to find enough fuel to survive each day and enough elasticity to adapt and grow through each twist, turn, valley and mountain on the day’s journey.

    Choose resilience

    So I’ve come to the conclusion my behaviors, thoughts and actions need to focus on things that:

    • fill my “gas can” and help me find contentedness and purpose
    • act as rubber bands that help me stretch and adapt to stress and change

    If you share my quest to hone this “ordinary” skill, here are a couple good resources I’ve found from Dr. Amit Sood.

    Sood is a Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester. His website, stressfree.org, is full of scientific and practical information on resilience and happiness, including a one-week guided happiness journey.

    Sood has also created several lighthearted but effective videos on the topic of resilience you can find on the front page of his website like this one (worth the watch, even if it’s just to smile at his accent, his drawing style and his rhymes!).

    Sood likens resilience to the rumble strips on the side of the highway.

    "From the rumble strip you can end up in the ditch, or you can recover back on the highway," Soot says. With resilience, “the idea is to recover quickly on the highway of life.”

    Take it easy

    So to reference yet another Jackson Browne song, I invite you to "take it easy" as you run down that road trying to loosen your load. Be gentle to yourself and be mindful of the benefit of helping yourself by helping others.

    I hope you’ll share your resilience tips and reflections with me and the rest of your MHSCN colleagues at our Fall Conference or any time we gather. 

    Speaking of the Fall Conference, we’ll offer a great topic on resiliency by Melanie "Mel" Sullivan, EdD, chief people officer, Constellation.

    Together, I believe we can help each other fill those gas cans and find rubber bands to hold us together and to improve our collective health.

  • 10/04/2017 9:33 PM | Rebecca Kindall Nelson (Administrator)

    As healthcare marketers head into the busiest season of the year, we all know too well the panic that can set in while you work to get projects done on time. 

    No fear… Bolger, a longstanding MHSCN sponsor, has a few tips to help you get through with your sanity intact.

    Getting started

    When beginning any project, make sure to engage your vendor partners early to help with strategy. Often your partners will have ideas to make the process as stress-free as possible. Ask when deliverables from you are needed to achieve your desired due date. 

    When managing multiple projects be sure to communicate project priorities, what goes first and what can go last. Be clear about the due date for each project.

    Let’s talk files

    Something as simple as naming files the same way you refer to them avoids confusion and will save time. If your piece mails, name your mailing list using the same naming convention as the collateral pieces it belongs with. Also, use an item number on every piece of collateral in a campaign to limit errors. 

    Don’t get stuck with the back and forth artwork debacle, provide the correct file type for your project. It is recommended to use JPEG, PNG or GIF for online campaigns, high resolution PDFs or packaged native files for print campaigns, and MP4 or MOV for video campaigns—always confirm the best file type for your project with your partner.

    Take the frustration out of mailing

    When designing a mail piece consult with your partner in advance to insure the mail panel is formatted properly and the piece meets postal standards. Determine upfront whether you will mail first class or marketing/standard mail, ask about the advantages of each, and ask about any special promotional options offered by the USPS. 

    Add your name and address to the final mail list so you receive the finished piece in your mailbox.

    Lastly, those pesky proofs and final details

    Be sure to review the proofs you receive for all your projects carefully. This is your last chance to make corrections before the project is complete. 

    Communicate any edits clearly and confirm if additional proofs are needed for final approval. And provide all required purchase order numbers, cost center or billing codes needed to insure the final invoice goes through your accounts payable department just as smoothly as your successful campaign. Then relax, put your feet up, and enjoy a well-deserved break!

    Helpful tips from a MHSCN sponsor

    These helpful tips are from Bolger. The St. Paul-based resource creates innovative product solutions that unify the power of print and digital communication and is a sustaining sponsor of MHSCN.

    Learn about sponsorship

  • 08/29/2017 4:15 PM | Deleted user
    photo of bike path crossroads

    I’ve been on quite a few bike rides lately (more often than last summer, I’m happy to report). On my rides through the parks and trails of the Twin Cities, I often come to a crossroads.

    The path splits off in two directions, and I have to choose which way to go. If it’s an unfamiliar route, I can’t be sure what I’ll encounter if I go one way vs. the other. This experience got me thinking about where MHSCN is going as an organization.

    As a board, we began working on a new strategic plan earlier this year. We realized that we needed to spend some time in thoughtful reflection and exploration of how we are living out MHSCN’s mission, vision and values. Are we meeting the needs of our members and delivering value? Is the organization still relevant in these changing times? There are many other activities and organizations competing for the time, attention, and resources of Minnesota’s health care communications, marketing, and public relations professionals.

    We’re exploring different options for the organization, and no matter how much we research them, we can’t know exactly what will happen if we choose one path over another. If you’re just on a bike ride, it’s not such a big deal. Chances are good it’ll be pleasant either way; maybe the path will take you to a different place than what you anticipated, but that’s OK. It can be a fun challenge to figure out those little surprises! 

    When it’s an organization like MHSCN, with a long history and established traditions, it’s a bit scarier – but also exciting. We have a strong board, and I’m confident we’ll “steer the ship” to a good new place. And that’s where you come in. It’s time to bring our members – and other stakeholders – into the discussion.

    Where do you see new opportunities for MSHCN? Are there activities or services we should add, or maybe some we should discontinue? If you’re a former member who hasn’t renewed, or someone who attends the occasional event but hasn’t ever joined, why not? We’d love to get your perspective.

    As our work on the strategic plan progresses, we’ll have a more formal way for you to share your input soon. For now, I encourage you to send me an email with your thoughts on how we can be more valuable to you and your professional goals. 

    Change is never easy, but for those of us in health care, it seems to be inevitable. We might as well learn to embrace it! Join me – and MHSCN – on the ride!

    Mary Beth Schwartz

    Mary Beth Schwartz

    MHSCN President

  • 08/08/2017 11:45 AM | Cassi Chrzanowski (Administrator)

    Have you been considering a return to school to enhance your education and advance your career?  The MS in Health Care Communications Program at the University of St. Thomas just announced a substantial scholarship opportunity for their cohort which begins at the end of August. 

    What's even better?  There’s no exam to take to enter the program – just an application.

    Because of the "fast track" on this scholarship fund, people need to take these steps: 

    1. Apply to the program.
    2. Email the faculty director, Dr. Mike Porter at mcporter@stthomas.edu. In the message, indicate you are interested in being considered for the Health Care Communicator Scholarship.

    Dr. Porter will use the data from the application to figure out distributions. He says, "There is money to offer up to 8 scholarships."

    See what other students are saying about the program:

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software