2017 marks Morgan & Co.’s 20th anniversary as an advertising agency in New Orleans. In celebration of this occasion, we sat down with our clients, friends and colleagues to get their perspective on how advertising has changed within their industry over the years.
The LCMC Health team is on alert with a severe weather warning in place as we sit down for our one-on-one interview with Christine Albert, Vice President of Marketing at LCMC Health. With hurricane season just getting started, we managed to steal away some critical time with Albert.
She has a lot of work to do.
The Louisiana-based, non-profit healthcare system consists of five hospitals: Children’s hospital, TOURO, University Medical Center New Orleans, New Orleans East Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center. With nearly 10,000 employees, and hundreds of thousands of patients with LCMC, Albert is tasked with overseeing communication efforts for the large healthcare family.
Today, her team is keeping a close eye on a potential tornado approaching New Orleans. Albert intercepts calls as she seamlessly weaves in and out of our interview.
We had an interesting look into a side of healthcare that we don’t often get to see. What does it take to manage communication in a critical industry that never stops?
Albert talked to us about her fifteen year history with healthcare, her experience at the helm of communication and marketing for LCMC Health, and her work telling LCMC’s story with partners Morgan & Co.
LCMC has evolved into a large network with five hospitals. Can you tell me about your work with LCMC?
What I like about LCMC is that it embodies the spirit of New Orleans. Each of our hospitals has its own culture, personality, and community that it serves. Our task is retaining that and unifying everyone with an overarching strategy and focus. For us, it was really important to keep the history and legacy and all of those cultural pieces intact, but to make it a part of something bigger.
That’s a very difficult thing to do. How do you maintain the culture of each individual hospital while operating under one system?
It’s a work in progress. We have to have those candid conversations of what do we like, what makes us unique, and what are those things that we really value. We then hard-wire that into our hiring processes, our communication touch points (both internally and externally), how we talk to people and what we say when we talk to them. That means websites, staff meetings, every touch point. And there is a shared culture among all of the hospitals. We are creating a shared culture of excellence. We are in the design stage of that right now. It exists, it’s just a matter of channeling it.
What interests you about healthcare?
It’s very fast paced and no day is ever the same, especially in health care marketing. The role that we serve is that we are uniquely positioned to facilitate how we communicate with our employees, our physicians, and especially with our patients and their families. There’s so much health information that can be really overwhelming. That’s where our role comes in, which is to find ways to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message and give them the resources and information that they need to make the best decision for their health.
What’s your day-to-day like?
As you can see it’s a little crazy, (eating lunch at 4pm).
Today, we kicked off the day with a staff meeting for our LCMC team and our hospital based directors. The goal of that meeting was to come together and make some decisions about a marketing campaign strategy.
We started our day talking about our first campaign as a marketing team system wide. Previously, we had been doing independent hospital based campaigns. But this is our first LCMC group campaign, and our first CRM (customer relationship management) campaign. We just launched our CRM database last month. This is a brave new world for us. We discussed the overall strategy and the primary service areas and campaign objectives for our “new mover” campaign.
What is the “new mover” campaign?
We will be launching a campaign for people who are moving to New Orleans from someplace else, or moving across town. We’ve created a special direct mail piece that will arrive on your doorstep introducing you to LCMC and the services we offer with a free, downloadable New Orleans recipe book. It will eventually have a digital component too. It’s something that’s fun and different for us. It’s the first time we’ve had a centralized strategy from a marketing perspective. That was an exciting part of the day.
And the rest of the day has been cyclone watch, employee communication, one-on-one meetings with our internal teams around an overarching website strategy. We currently have websites on different platforms, are in the process of merging everyone onto one content management system, and migrating all of our hospital sites. And once we take care of all of our web stuff, then we are in the position to do some really cool, new stuff with Morgan & Co. But first, we’ve got to take care of our nuts and bolts behind the scenes to maximize what we can do with them.
Overall at the system level within our marketing team, I’m in the process of building an integrative, collaborative marketing team that almost functions like an in-house agency.
The big buckets of things that we do are: public relations and media relations, website management, social media, crisis communication, internal communication (which is significant given that our organization is almost 10,000 people strong), overall digital strategy, customer relationship management (CRM tool) and marketing automation, and the overall marketing strategy.
That’s a lot of buckets!
It’s a lot. We are very ambitious. And what’s been interesting is the evolving role of the marketing and communications professional as an analyst.
I’ve been directly observing it and what excites me the most is that it’s really a data driven, research based approach to how we think about the problems we are trying to solve or what we are trying to accomplish with a real focus on outcome or results that are measurable. That’s our baseline for everything we do: What data do we have? What do we know? It’s a fact based discussion.
Healthcare marketing is moving away from traditional media. It isn’t going away wholly, but you’re seeing this pivot towards personalization and you see it via digital, social, ad serving and even personalization is reflected on websites when you visit them. The content changes based on who you are, and it’s amazing. It’s really data mining, and leveraging all of this data on the people you are trying to reach, and who are trying to find you and giving them the information they are looking for. That’s what’s most exciting for me, it’s leveraging data about our existing patients and prospective patients in our communities to better understand them and their needs and hopefully serve their best interests.
You used to get paid as a healthcare organization for how many procedures, or services for patients, but now there’s a shift to value based purchasing in healthcare. So that means providers, whether it’s hospitals or physicians, are now being reimbursed so their payment is tied to keeping you healthy and out of the hospital. It’s been a major shift in how hospitals and healthcare providers work. It’s all about a community health approach. How can we look at the communities we serve, and keep them as healthy as possible? It’s a 180. It’s less about we saw 1000 patients, and more about we saw 500 patients and cared for them really well.
That’s a big shift.
That’s where a lot of our work with the Morgan & Co team has come into play. How to get smart in this rapidly evolving digital world where it is much more segmented. They’ve done a great job of helping us analyze and understand our audiences, and look to us to clearly articulate what are the measurable goals and objectives that we have as an organization. They design strategies and tactics that support that from a digital or social perspective as well as traditional media.
That is a sweet spot for them. They’re able to come in with a specific intelligence and build out personas. They can come in and analyze all of our patient data, so we can do basic things like geographical analysis on zipcode analysis, payer mix, but they can also build out behavioral profiles of those people. They build out who these people are and they bring them to life, and find other ways to reach them.
And the great thing about Morgan & Co is that they are always driving towards those measurable objectives. So we watch those digital campaigns in real-time, and we can adjust them in real-time We can say this is working really well, we’re seeing this many click-throughs, clicks to calls, or here’s what we’re seeing as a result of this. We (can) do A, B or A,B, C, or D testing of creative and messaging to see what people respond to and what works best, and that’s really fun.
Is there a particular project or campaign that you’ve worked on with Morgan & Co that stands out to you?
There was one we did with TOURO. It was an experiment. It’s hard to be funny in healthcare. It’s a very serious topic, but we also want to be playful because our hospitals are uniquely New Orleans, and we are proud of that.
We are right there on the parade route, and our emergency service is one that we always want people to be aware that we are there and able to support them. So we did a digital pre-roll campaign and filmed some original, short spots for social and web-content. They were Mardi Gras injuries like getting hit by a bead, a ladder injury, lifting something heavy, true New Orleans problems you have during Mardi Gras, and we ended with the message that the TOURO emergency room is here if you need us.
They were fun and light-hearted, and out of all of our campaigns, that’s been the runway hit with click to view, click to completion and click-throughs. It blew everything else out of the water. It was really fun to try that with Morgan & Co. It was low risk because it wasn’t a significant financial investment and it wasn’t a large, integrative campaign, it was only for digital. It was incredibly successful, so much that we brought it back again this year. They were willing to be guinea pigs with us.
That is a perfect example of how the New Orleans market is different.
It’s different and fun, and it’s also fun as a healthcare marketer to test things and see what people respond to. The New Orleans market really responds to that unique New Orleans positioning.
You’ve been in this industry for fifteen years now. What are some of the challenges you’re facing right now in your field?
Managing that shift from traditional marketing and advertising, to being more of an analyst and more data driven and really using that as a foundation for everything that we do.
Repositioning the profession around that and being a true business function. Being able to articulate what’s the impact to the bottom line. That’s a different role for marketing professionals, but especially within healthcare. Inherent with that, is that we have so much data that it’s sometimes hard to manage. You have all of this different data, metrics and tactics, but the challenge is that you can get lost in digital ROI.
Morgan & Co does a good job of identifying what are the most essential pieces of data that we need to make decisions. It’s being focused on what do we need, what are we trying to accomplish and how do we communicate the insight, and how are we changing the decisions we are making? We keep evolving how we report, what we report and how we communicate it. How do we do it better? How do we provide better reporting about the impact?
The overall shift to digital is most exciting but also the biggest shift that’s out there, which is again why we’re grateful to have a partner like Morgan & Co to help us navigate it as it evolves. To be successful in health care, is really contingent upon having that digital in all forms.
How do we communicate better with our patients and communities?
It’s a whole new world where you need a true omni-channel approach for audiences. That’s the most exciting thing and also really challenging. Now I have one hundred ways to reach you. How do I find the right one(s)?
This is our third year working with Morgan & Co. It’s invaluable to have a partner that has their degree of expertise, because this is what they do day in and day out. They have a different degree of knowledge and insight than we do, and they also have an outside view of healthcare that they can bring to bare. Sometimes what they see in tourism or other industries is applicable to us, and it’s not on our radar because it’s not in our healthcare marketing realm. They bring those practices and perspectives to us so we can see what other industries are doing and how we can apply that to healthcare.