Health Academy & PRSA International

Having just returned from the world’s largest public relations gathering, and being chair this year of the second largest professional section within PRSA, here are some thoughts from a Health Academy perspective on PRSA 2013 International Conference. The focus was on connections, collaborations and community. As keynoter Brian Solis of Altimeter pointed out, we all know that public relations is bigger than any department within a given company or organization. With social media now, our audience has an audience of its own. We’re not just talking to someone—we are speaking through them. Our mobile devices are no longer the second screen; they are really the first screen. YouTube is the new Google.

As always, one of the key benefits of the International meeting is to network and re-connect with Health Academy members past and present, as well as meet new members as well as recruit new candidates from the ranks of PRSA national, new professionals and PRSSA. It was my distinct pleasure and honor to provide certificates of appreciation to Garland Stansell, APR, Paula Pedene, APR, and immediate past chair Leigh Fazzina, who have all served the maximum nine years on the executive committee. They will all be missed, but knowing them, I suspect they not fade away.

We’re also lucky that many members of our national board of directors have strong ties to the health or life science industries and represent us well, those include Secretary Kathy Barbour, APR, from Baptist Health South Florida, Diane Gage Lofgren, APR, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR of Eli Lilly and Company.

There was some outstanding programming for healthcare practitioners this year, among them case studies which showed innovation including Healthy Text’s case study on engaging high school football players on the topic of concussions using a text messaging platform (check out . Jerry Berger, director, media relations, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recounted lessons learned from managing the Boston Marathon Bombing at his hospital (look for a video Podcast with Jerry coming up soon).

My favorite sessions are always the case studies. These provide tips and tools from real-life scenarios in healthcare public relations. The Ketchum and Pfizer consumer health team provided an excellent overview of the Silver Anvil Award winning Advil: Relief in Action Team, the CDC and the University of Georgia had an excellent case study on H1N1crisis response and there were several presentations on reaching minority audiences with important health messages like the Heart Truth, with a particular focus on the Hispanic market.

Branding was another important focus and this will continue through the foreseeable future. Brands are people and people are brands. To continue that thought, PRSA Health Academy is sponsoring a teleseminar on Thursday, November 21 at 1 pm, which is free to members How One Hospital System Tapped Internal Talent and Developed a Brand Journalism Strategy With Little Budget and Great Results

Here’s the link to register: