Department Spotlight: Marketing and Communications
November 15, 2023Nov. 12-18 is Health Care Strategy & Market Development Week. Please join us in celebrating the Marketing and Communications team at Renown Health!
When you think of the brand of Renown Health, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think about our Fight the Good Fight motto that you see integrated throughout our commercials and advertisements. Or maybe your mind drifts to our signature purple that you saw on a print design or social media post. You may even think of a local news story that showcases the essence of who we are as an organization. Or you may gravitate toward the look and feel of our patient-friendly website. Managing the brand of our health system is crucial as patients look to Renown to be the voice of not-for-profit healthcare – and it takes a wide range of expertise to solidify that voice.
The masters of our voice can be found within Renown’s Marketing and Communications (“MarComm”) team. From branding and business-to-business to content and community relations, this robust department is the minds behind our reputation within the communities we serve. This team is chock-full of expert writers, speakers, designers and marketers who craft positive and memorable communications that lead to a lifetime of patient and employee loyalty.
The Connoisseurs of Communicating
As the keyholders of Renown’s brand position and promise, our MarComm team are experts at ensuring the community at large remembers precisely who Renown is and what our health system stands for. This all-hands-on-deck department encompasses a wide variety of talents:
- Marketing and creative services: Traditional and digital advertising, brand templates and collateral and brand image and awareness
- Communication and public relations: Employee and provider communications, intranet management, social media, media relations, photography and videography, community relations, crisis communications and strategic planning and advisement
- Digital specializations: Website and microsites, email marketing, customer journey mapping, blogs and chatbots
Our Marketing and Creative Services team members are the ultimate dreamers, starting diverse campaigns from the ground up.
“In marketing and creative services, we are always dreaming up something new,” said Emily MacMillan, Manager of Marketing & Creative Services. “Between our brand advertising, to service line campaigns to external partnerships, you can always find our team working on a marketing plan and creating ads, content, messaging, videos, graphics, emails, photoshoots and more.”
“From Fight the Good Fight brand work to a service line promotion or a sponsorship creative package, the variety of projects my role allows me to bring to life for Renown is almost endless,” added Chad Norton, Senior Creative Specialist. “That can make every day at my job nothing like the day before – which keeps things interesting and my creativity flowing.”
For all things storytelling and public image management, Renown looks to the Communications team for expert guidance.
“As the Manager of Communications, I get to lead the most talented group of professionals I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Caroline Ackerman, Manager of Communications & Public Affairs. “Sometimes there is an urgent matter to tend to, and we drop everything to support larger-scale communications. Other days, we get last-minute requests from our local media partners for TV interviews. On top of that, the communications team supports event planning and employee recognition. It’s so fun to work in this hybrid space where we can get our work done from home while also being present at meaningful Renown events.”
At Renown, we believe our external image is just as vital as our internal culture. Keeping our employees informed and engaged every step of the way is of utmost importance to MarComm.
“While most of our department supports projects that focus on our patients, guests and visitors, our employee communications team supports internal clients (our employees),” said Dani Vogel, Communications Business Partner. “Therefore, I spend a good portion of my time working with internal departments and service lines to deliver important communications across the organization using a variety of channels. In a nutshell, my day starts with the question, ‘what do our employees need to know today?’ We get to work with so many amazing internal teams.”
“I internally project manage some of the marketing campaigns, from open enrollment to our annual report, and each project is different and requires its own approach,” added Colleen McLellan, Senior Production Specialist. “I create the framework for each project, such as establishing a kickoff and ongoing meeting cadence during the project, ensuring we track lessons learned and decisions made for each, create the folder structure in Sharepoint, and opening a project and maintaining the tasks and deadlines in Workfront. I am also often part of a quality circle, proofing ads and other materials created as part of a campaign. As with all of my colleagues in MarComm, we are often resources for where to learn more or find information for other departments.”
“One of my roles is to maintain the Brand HQ site and review approval requests,” added Aurora Boles, Creative Services Specialist. “I enjoy hopping on Teams calls to assist our employees with their questions about the site or templates.”
Maintaining a high standard of digital excellence comes easy for the Marketing Technology team, who manage the complexities of Renown’s digital front door – starting with our website.
“Think about how many health service lines Renown has to offer; now, let's create an organized set of pages for that specific service line on Renown.org – that a lot of pages!” said Sarah LaBarge, Digital Specialist. “It takes time to curate the layout, work with providers and the Communications team to ensure the content is correct and create components and images for the page to give the user the best digital experience while continually updating and maintaining all our pages. We don't just have Renown.org; we have many other microsites that we maintain as well. It is a nice challenge to make both our team and users happy and have a good experience.”
"The user experience is always at the forefront of whatever I do," added Tori Bowlin, Digital Content Editor. "When writing health blogs, emails, or health service web content, it's essential to attribute the information to one of our outstanding providers and link the post to a Renown Health Service or reputable source. A thoughtful workflow helps our customers make informed decisions regarding their health and well-being."
As a not-for-profit health system, Renown reinvests right back into the community we serve. Our Community Benefit team serves as the overseers of this promise, ensuring our local non-profits that share our mission are able to deliver on their own goals.
“I absolutely love the role of community impact and partnership liaison and the opportunity it provides to work with so many wonderful local nonprofits,” said Melissa Dahir, Community Benefit Liaison. “Our local community is filled with so many organizations designed to help those in need, and it is an honor to be contributing to and supporting the work these amazing groups do. My work with this department involves partnering with nonprofit organizations by providing funding for program support through groups identified in our Community Health Needs Assessment, and providing grants for traditional events such as community walks, golf tournaments, dinners, galas and more.”
The MarComm team’s paramount focus on maintaining a caring and collaborative culture stems from the impact they have on patients' lives and the crucial trust placed in the organization. For this team, no project to benefit the health and well-being of Renown’s patients is too big nor too small.
“As someone holding a core leadership position on this team, I can see firsthand that our team is all about culture and retention,” said Cristal Woodley, Senior Director of Marketing, Communications and Customer Engagement. “At the end of the day, we have an impact on patients’ lives and trust in the organization. I’ve surrounded myself with such smart people.”
Marketing MasteryAs the old expression says, “the proof is in the pudding.” Renown’s MarComm team not only has a passion for the creative work they do, but they also have the successful results to back it all up.
“I’m proud to see how much our team has accomplished over the past year,” said Courtney Lewis, Communications Coordinator. “It’s been a very busy but exciting time for everyone on our team. It’s incredible to see the roll-out and completion of so many successful projects and campaigns. I’m in awe every day of how well everyone on our team works together!”
“When I came to Renown almost a year and a half ago, I was immediately blown away by the high caliber of work this team produces,” added Alana Ridge, Communications Business Partner. “I am still continually amazed every day by my colleagues for not only delivering impactful campaigns but also for all the awards we have won for our work. I am so proud to work amongst so many experts in the field.”
The key to success in MarComm? Teamwork. A unique facet of this department is the many different subject matter experts that come together to deploy an expertly-crafted, multi-faceted marketing campaign.
“The MarComm team comes together in an amazingly cohesive way for both long-term projects and unexpected messaging needs,” said Chad Norton. “Whether we’re supporting a service line through an extensive marketing plan or addressing a new pandemic, everyone on the team pitches in to provide a 360-degree solution that helps to elevate the Renown brand and reinforces our never-ending commitment to the community. I think we can all be incredibly proud of our team and the work we do.”
“Did you know it can take people up to seven times to hear or read a message before it sinks in?” said Caroline Ackerman. “We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with news alerts, texts from loved ones, funny social media posts and more. Our team tries our best to cut through all the noise and deliver messages that matter the most. As a public relations professional at my core, every time we get a positive mention in local or nationwide news it makes me so proud! I love the opportunity to reinforce Renown’s excellent reputation.”
Navigating uncharted territory doesn’t intimidate the MarComm team – it invigorates them. Take COVID-19, for example. During the global pandemic, the team recognized the gravity of their responsibility as communicators and understood the community’s reliance on them for information and guidance.
“As difficult as the pandemic was, I can confidently say that our COVID communications were the highlight of my career,” said Cristal Woodley. “I felt such a sense of pride watching everyone come together for one goal. We knew people were looking to us for the answers.”
Communication is both a science and an art – a fact that this talented team knows very well and practices every day.
“We are very lucky because I think good communication is inherent in what we all do,” said Ally Gravina, Senior Communications Business Partner. “Something that has always impressed me about the MarComm team is that everyone has such an incredible blend of hard and soft skills – I think this balance makes communication much more effective, both amongst our team and across the entire Renown organization.”
“We have an amazing team that practices the art of asking questions in every interaction,” added Dani Vogel. “I think most people on our team have journalistic skills that help us research, connect and communicate about a wide range of topics. While we might not be clinically trained in any one area of healthcare, our team is able to understand a wide variety of topics and how to communicate or share any message.”
As the world continues to embrace a digital way of living, Renown remains at the forefront of offering digital solutions that make accessing information about our health system as easy and convenient as possible for our patients.
“When I started in this department, I was proud to be instrumental in developing Renown’s first digital front door and leading strategic conversations about what our unique front door looks like – and for us, it’s our website,” said Cristal Woodley. “We wanted our website to portray our message of ‘we’re going to take care of you,’ because we always want to put the patient first.”
“Ralph McLemore, another Digital Specialist on our team, and I rebuilt two major websites within the past year: Hometown Health and Senior Care Plus,” said Sarah LaBarge. “I am very proud of the work we continue to do on the web front.”
Proudly serving as Renown’s in-house “agency” with scores of “clients,” including service lines, providers and support services, MarComm is here to serve them all with a smile.
“Our department decided to bring what we call ‘agency services’ in-house 5-6 years ago,” said Emily MacMillan. “This means that our team, as opposed to an outside company, leads our creative development, our advertising placement and our production needs. Not only is this a cost-savings for our company, but it helps us work more intimately with our colleagues to bring our brand to life. Today, our marketing materials are full of our employees and community partners, and it supports an authentic approach to marketing Renown and Hometown Health.”
Renown(ed) for Their Passion
The MarComm department doesn't merely view their work as a professional obligation but as a meaningful contribution to the well-being of the community. Their commitment reflects not just a job but a shared dedication to Renown’s role in providing exceptional healthcare services and making a positive impact on the lives of those they serve.
"I love what I do, and working with incredible team members makes it much more enjoyable," said Tori Bowlin. "The MarComm team is always willing to learn and collaborate on projects, and I appreciate additional perspectives and new ideas."
“What I love about working at Renown is that every employee is so passionate about the individual work they are doing,” added Caroline Ackerman. “There can sometimes be dozens of initiatives going on at the same time and we do our best to support every employee by prioritizing the information that’s the most important to know.”
Several of these team members have been on the team for years – and in some cases, decades – and have seen Renown grow exponentially. Being a part of that growth makes them feel an even deeper sense of pride, knowing that their efforts have helped our health system reach new heights.
“I first joined Renown in 1995 (known as Washoe Medical Center back then) as a Communications Specialist working on employee communications; I have stayed because there is always something new and interesting to work on,” said Colleen McLellan. “In the nearly 25 years I’ve been with the organization, Renown South Meadows was built, the Rehabilitation Hospital was purchased, the Tahoe Tower at Renown Regional was built, we added the Children’s Hospital and expanded our outpatient services. When I first started, there wasn’t the internet, intranet, email or social media – we now have all these additional avenues to promote this wonderful place to work and to receive care."
“I started as an intern in 2008 at the precipice of the emerging digital marketing field,” added Cristal Woodley. “After applying for a full-time role in web development, I sent our very first Salesforce email and built our intranet from the ground up. From there, after two years away from Renown learning a lot about business-to-business marketing and lead generation, I was able to bring that experience back to Renown. I was fortunate to develop a strong relationship with Suzanne Hendery, our Chief Marketing and Customer Officer, who encouraged me to take advantage of Renown’s tuition reimbursement program to obtain my master’s, which helped me work my way up the career ladder to become the full-time director of both marketing and communications.”
For other team members, they have had strong family connections to Renown and healthcare as a whole, especially in the community they call home. These roots inspire them even more to help fulfill Renown’s mission.
“I come from a long line of healthcare professionals and both my parents are nurses,” added Caroline Ackerman. “As a child, I was inspired by how my parents’ careers were based on helping other people. While my passions led me in the direction of communications and relationship building, I jumped at the opportunity to turn that into a healthcare career. I started at Renown in January of 2020, and experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic as a new healthcare professional taught me so much. During that time, I was inspired by the sacrifices our frontline employees were making every day. That inspiration, coupled with the fact that there is always something new to learn in healthcare, keeps me engaged and proud to be a Renown employee.”
“Growing up in Reno meant that I’ve known a lot of friends and family members who have had successful and fulfilling careers here utilizing all the excellent benefits, so Renown always seemed like a top employer in our community,” added Dani Vogel. “To me it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ I’ll join Renown, but ‘when.’ I joined Renown when a position opened in the Marketing and Communications department that focused primarily on employee communications, so I was excited for the opportunity to join this amazing team alongside so many friends and family members.”
Unlike many clinical teams, several MarComm team members had no healthcare experience before coming to Renown but were still passionate about the important role health systems serve in our region. Despite Renown being their first experience in healthcare, these team members absolutely know they are in the right place at the right time.
“I sort of stumbled into my role at Renown, and I am so glad I did,” said Ally Gravina. “It’s my first job working in healthcare, and I stay because of the sense of accomplishment it gives to work for the betterment of this community. I also stay because of this team's intelligence, dedication and practicality – our leadership thinks progressively, and that mindset trickles down to our entire department.”
“Accessible healthcare and the non-profit sector are both major passions of mine, and working at Renown allows me to merge those two passions beautifully,” added Alana Ridge. “From managing our growing social media presence to helping lead our recruitment marketing efforts, I am so proud to have the opportunity to help make a genuine difference for patients in our community and our employees.”
With a strong company culture fostered by all 7,200+ employees, many MarComm members account this as a major reason why they decided to stay at Renown long-term. Plus, the myriad benefits offered that focus extensively on each employee’s well-being help keep this team engaged and supported.
“When I started at Renown eight years ago, I was immediately drawn to the strong company culture and community impact – I knew it was an organization I wanted to be part of long-term,” said Courtney Lewis. “I’m also grateful for the career development opportunities here that helped me meet my goal of joining the Marketing & Communications team.”
“I moved here in 2019 and didn't know my life path would bring me to a nonprofit organization that helps the community I have always wanted to live in,” added Sarah LaBarge. “It is quite humbling to think about. I love my teammates within the marketing department. Everyone has great skill sets and is willing to share their knowledge as well. Additionally, I love taking advantage of our educational programs; if you have student loans, Renown has a student loan repayment program where they pay $200 directly to your loan. Benefits like this really make an impact.”
It takes a village to deliver such high-quality work at every juncture, and the MarComm team is immensely thankful for the support and collaboration of their departmental partners including:
- The Customer Engagement Center for partnering with MarComm in building an ecosystem for patients to engage with us.
- Printing Services for offering efficient and masterful on-site print solutions.
- The teams at Hometown Health and Senior Care Plus for collaborating with MarComm on all things insurance.
- The Human Resources, Benefits, Organizational Development and Recruitment teams for helping MarComm foster a thriving employee culture and diversifying careers.
- Information Technology for helping MarComm completely transform Renown’s intranet and keeping our digital infrastructure safe.
- The Accounting, Compliance, Regulatory and Accreditation teams for handling of the complex legalities and financials of our health system.
- All service line leaders, practice site managers and administrative assistants for keeping everything at Renown running smoothly.
“We have some amazing internal partners who help us tell Renown’s stories both internally and externally,” said Dani Vogel. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that happens across our organization to make sure employees are educated, informed and inspired to join or stay at Renown. From the first day of an employee’s career at Renown, to the moment they achieve that next promotion or take advantage of Renown’s continuing education programs or excellent benefits, these teams go above and beyond to ensure our employees have every tool in their pockets to be successful.”
In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare communication, matched with their fiery passion for Renown, our MarComm team’s tireless efforts go beyond promotion; they are the architects of narratives that resonate with the hearts of those they serve.
“I love being a part of this community – everything we do has a purpose,” closes Cristal Woodley.
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