Meet Michigan Medicine: Department of Communication

August 19, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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When Michigan Medicine began treating its first COVID-19 patient in March, all faculty and staff were informed within hours. Daily updates were then sent out every evening for the next several months, and regular updates continue to this day.

So who is behind those important updates? It’s the organization’s leadership team working hand-in-hand with the Department of Communication (DOC).

“From urgent, need-to-know information to statistics and beyond, our department is committed to keeping faculty, staff and learners in the loop at all times,” said Rose Glenn, A.P.R., the organization’s chief communication and marketing officer. “That’s because we know that a more informed workforce is a better, more effective workforce.”

Operational updates are only a small fraction of the work DOC performs. Here’s what you may not know about the talented team that gets the message out about all that’s happening at Michigan Medicine.

Internal stakeholders

The DOC has two major aspects to their work: internal communication and external communication.

Internal communication targets everyone within the organization, including faculty, staff and learners.

“We are constantly looking at what needs to be communicated to our colleagues and how to engage people in that communication,” Glenn said.

Therefore, the internal and executive communication team utilizes a number of different tactics to send out information, from the Headlines daily newsletter to leadership updates to The Wrap podcast and the Employees @ Michigan Medicine Facebook page. Working with the DOC’s digital strategy team, the internal communicators are also creating web pages that are go-to sites for leaders and staff.

“You can’t reach everyone by using only one medium,” Glenn said. “So we do our best to reach others in creative and unique ways. Visual engagement has become just as important as the written word, and we have graphic designers, photographers and videographers who are adept at drawing in readers.”

That creativity extends beyond how stories are delivered and includes which stories are delivered. For instance, on top of straightforward, important updates, the team created a Virtual Art Fair featuring the artwork of talented faculty and staff; and twice a year runs a “Michigan Medicine MVPs” campaign, where colleagues can recognize their peers.

The internal team also assists leaders by providing toolkits and talking points to share with staff and plays a role in nearly all leadership communication. Their upcoming plan for the rollout of the new Mission, Vision and Values is a good example.

Looking outside

A major piece of the DOC charge is dedicated to external communication, which is targeted to current and prospective patients, referring physicians, potential faculty, staff and learners, current and potential donors, and collaborators in all three parts of the organization’s mission.

The public relations group ensures the work performed at Michigan Medicine gets the publicity and media coverage it deserves.

“We’ve transformed from just sending out press releases and hoping the media chooses to cover us to developing our own original content that highlights the patient care, education and research taking place here,” Glenn said.

Indeed, that content is shared via the Michigan Health Blog and Michigan Health Lab Blog, which combined have racked up more than 9 million views in fiscal year 2020 alone.

PR is also responsible for the organization’s official social media channels (ie. Facebook and Twitter) and provides listeners with the Michigan Medicine News Break, a quick recap of one of the blog stories each day.

“At its core, our PR team is here to elevate the incredible work that our doctors, nurses, researchers and other staff members do on a daily basis,” Glenn said.

In much the same way, the marketing team is responsible for branding and engagement strategies that enhance Michigan Medicine’s reputation and help to grow its business.

“I am very excited about a new branding campaign that we will be introducing this fall,” Glenn said. “The organization’s brand is a reflection of our mission and vision, and the new brand platform was created with a great deal of input from our internal and external stakeholders.”

Marketing also is responsible for promotion and advertising across all communication channels. From the social media campaign “#HailtotheFrontLine” to TV ads touting that the health system is “open, safe and trusted,” the marketing team elevates reputation and attracts patients, faculty, staff and learners.

The digital strategy and engagement team is focused on ensuring that web platforms have the content and technology that make it easy for users to learn about and engage with Michigan Medicine.

“This is a big year for the digital team because we are replacing our outdated content management system for many of our sites,” Glenn noted.  “We will be partnering with others across Michigan Medicine to ensure that our users have the best experience possible. With websites serving as the ‘front door’ of the organization, ensuring that we are putting our best foot forward with a sound strategy and compelling visual and written content — all through the lens of the user — is critical to our success.”

More than the written word

A relatively new team within the DOC is the creative services team, and they create as much visual content for external stakeholders as they do for internal staff.

“Our goal is to make everything that the organization shares look as professional and engaging as possible,” Glenn said. “Because often a website, video or photograph is what draws the reader into to the organization, this team gets involved in nearly every aspect of our work. Creative services came together right before COVID-19 hit and has been instrumental in helping every member of the DOC produce outstanding results.”

Supporting the department is an administrative team that works to keep the DOC high functioning and the work moving as seamlessly as possible.

“We would not be successful without this small but mighty team,” Glenn said. “They are contributing no matter what the need — from tracking down answers to employee questions during the COVID-19 crisis to producing reports tracking results — they are making the DOC more productive and efficient.”

A bright future

According to Glenn, the DOC is working across the organization to better meet the needs of the entire academic medical center. One of the recent changes is that the medical school now has an Office of Communication, and she will be working closely with the new director and communication professionals to ensure that there is a cohesive and coordinated approach to engaging the school’s key stakeholders.

Glenn, who just marked 16 months at Michigan Medicine, is quick to acknowledge appreciation to all of the individuals in DOC: “I am so impressed with these outstanding professionals. They are not only talented — they care deeply about their work and ensuring that Michigan Medicine shines on both a local and national scale.”

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