Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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Schedules or Spontaneity – what makes you the best you can be?

photoPlans and lists and schedules, oh my! For some people, that’s their worst nightmare. For me, well, I need structure. I need those plans, and lists to check off and schedules to follow. Even if I try to be spontaneous, it backfires on me and gets me agitated and anxious and worried. Whether it be my work or my personal life, when my routine and my schedule are thrown off, I’m in for a bad day, and probably a sleepless night.

My husband, on the other hand, hates making plans, never uses a list unless he’s grocery shopping (yes, he does that and I’m SOOO grateful!), and never feels the need to check anything off. If something gets done, it gets done, if not, well, it will get done another time. I can feel myself gasping for air at the thought of that. Opposites attract, so they say!

It took me a long time to realize that this was just who I am. It’s not a character flaw, or a personality deficiency, it’s just the way I function at my best. When I was doing media relations as my job, it’s no wonder I was a walking breakdown ready to happen. The fact that any one phone call from a reporter doing a story can throw a wrench into the works of your day is too much for my need for organization and structure to bear.

That’s why doing social media is such a good fit for me. I can plan my day around a set schedule, and do it quite easily. For a while, I was filling in as a media relations officer for one of the hospitals while we recruited a replacement for the role. So I was juggling my normal, set schedule, with a bit of the more haphazard, constantly fluctuating world that is PR and media relations. Looking back on this period, it’s no wonder I was a bit loony!

Now I’m feeling more like myself, back into a set schedule and being more productive, and much happier. Social media lends itself to this type of personality. You can stick to a schedule, like responding to tweets and Facebook comments, set time aside to build content, and even identify a block of time when you can read blogs and articles to keep up with what’s going on in the constantly changing industry. Yes, it can be a 24/7 world, but it can also be one set by a calendar and a to-do list too. Ahhhhh, I feel better already. And wow am I productive when my days are carefully planned!

What about you – are you a fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy/gal, or do you need that written-in-ink kind of day to be your most productive self and feel your best?


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Sometimes the water doesn’t slide off a duck’s back

Photo by Neil Howard/Neil Howard (neilalderney123)/Creative Commons

Photo by Neil Howard/Neil Howard
(neilalderney123)/Creative Commons

There are some days when you can just let things slide, like water off a duck’s back as the saying goes. There are other days, well, not so much.

It’s on those days when my mind wanders and I start the “what if” game. What if this, then that. Like, “what if I didn’t need the money…then would I still be doing what I do?”

I’ve often said that I love my job and I do. I love being able to connect with people on a one-to-one basis. I love the trust that I’m given to represent a large organization that’s critical to the community. I love being able to feel like I’m doing something good by sharing helpful information that could improve the health of the community (like our mission says). I also love learning something new every day.

But I am enough of a realist to know that sometimes loving what you do just isn’t enough. Sometimes the aggravation and the things that are out of your control that impact your day-to-day work just become too much to overlook.  That, combined with the recent resignations of two colleagues with whom I really enjoyed working has gotten me thinking. A lot.

So what do you do when you get to that point? Very good question and one I need to ponder. I’m not naive (at least I try not to be!). I am well aware that the grass isn’t always greener, so jumping ship to go to a perceived greener grassland isn’t always the best option. So that means you have to evaluate your options closely and figure out what can make things better.

Clearly the answers to this conundrum will not be clear overnight. But it’s something to think about and to work on. Life is too short, right? We are the only ones who will make ourselves happy.

So now I pose the question to my readers: have you ever felt like this? What did you do?


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Does your company have a strategy or are you a fish out of water?

Photo by kainr/Creative Commons.

Photo by kainr/Creative Commons.

I think it’s often easier to find the things that are wrong in your company rather than appreciating the good things. Recently two things opened my eyes to just how lucky I am to work for the company I do.

The reason for this post, though, is not to shower accolades on my employer, but rather to point out some important things that could impact the marketing and social media efforts of companies.

Last weekend I was at a wedding, and one of my former colleagues was there. I was thrilled to see her because I adore Caitlin. She is a smart young woman, a beautiful and talented writer and a genuinely nice person.

She is now working for a biomedical company. She made a point of telling me how behind the times the company is. There is no overall marketing strategy, there is no coordinated communications efforts or advertising efforts, and social media is a completely mystery to them. In fact, the vice president asked her, “So, that Skype. Is that Facebooking?” Wow. It seems almost impossible in this day and age, right? Surely that company is an anomaly, yes?

Apparently not. Yesterday, I read a post shared by Mark Ragan called “Lessons from a social media disaster.” The post describes a company that appears to be in total chaos: no strategy, no leadership, no IT support, no content creators. Another wow.

So I guess that company that was NOT an exception to the rule. I guess I am lucky in that I work for a company with a clear mission, vision and goals. On top of that we have strategies and clear tactics for all of our marketing and advertising efforts. What we do always supports the overall mission, whether it be marketing, social media, advertising, or caring for our community. We also have policies and procedures so everyone can understand what is expected of them.

Having worked in this environment for all of my career, I think I would be completely lost in a company that didn’t function this way. It’s hard to imagine trying to do anything today when you don’t have a coordinated effort among all the parties responsible for your company’s success. In fact, it sounds like a perfect prescription for failure, right?

Or maybe I’m just partial to doing things that make sense. Personally, I think it’s that strategy that holds the key to success in everything you do. Without a plan, you’re kind of like a fish out of water, especially when it comes to social media.

Do you have a plan when it comes to your marketing and social media efforts? Are there things that you would change about your organization’s environment or culture that you think would help its success? What would it be?


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Please don’t text and drive

Photo by poka0059/Flickr

Photo by poka0059/Flickr

I consider myself to be a pretty coordinated person. I can definitely walk and chew gum at the same time, and I can talk on the phone and type, and other multi-tasking efforts come pretty easily to me. But texting and driving was never one of them.

I was thrilled when my home state, along with many others, passed a law that prohibits texting and driving. At the same time, I’m not so naive that I believe that everyone follows the law. But I have to tell you that I am just appalled with the number of people who still think they can text and drive and be safe.

I had an appointment today. I had to drive four miles from my house. I have a habit of looking in my mirror when I am stopped at a stop sign or a red light, because once I got rear-ended and, well, old habits die hard. So today, during my 4-mile drive which consisted of very few stops, I counted at least three people who were texting and driving.

It seems to me that people today are of the mindset that you have to be available and responsive no matter when it is (morning, noon, night) and where you are (bathrooms, meetings, sleeping). Now I am of a certain age when a car phone was a really cool thing to have but not necessary. I’m also the first to admit that technology never ceases to amaze me. It has given us a myriad of things to celebrate and enjoy on a daily basis, like blogs and social networks, and the ability to share our opinions.

At the same time, it has a dark side, and this is one of them. It’s made us obsessed with being available 24/7. I admit that I feel this pull too. The smartphone tends to do that to us.

But when I see so many risking their own lives and threatening the safety of others because they think they can text and drive, it brings up a number of thoughts and emotions.

  • I’m really angry that they would put others’ lives in danger because they own a smartphone.
  • I wonder why people think they are so indispensible that they must be available and responsive no matter when it is or where they are. I’d really rather not get an answer from someone who is driving (or in the bathroom!).
  • I’m curious as to what it’s going to take to stop people from doing this. My guess is a serious accident, and then it’s too late.
  • It’s a shame to me that as wonderful as technology can be, it has to have a dark side that is SO dangerous.

Do you text and drive?


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10 health care marketing folks to follow on Twitter

I’ve been on Twitter for almost 5 years now. It has become my go-to source for everything: research, breaking news, trends, health care marketing information, and meeting wonderful people. Over the years, I’ve used the “list” function in Twitter to easily organize the people I follow so I can quickly browse through categories like “news outlets,” “journalists,” or “healthcare marketing” folks.This post is to highlight some of those on my list because if you are in health care social media you should be following them too. Now believe me when I say this list is not all-inclusive, and I know there are many folks who deserve to be on this list, but there’s just not enough space in a blog post to single out all the amazing minds who are sharing info!

@leeaase Lee Aase is probably one of the best known folks in health care social media. If you look him up on Wikipedia, here’s what you’ll find: “Lee Aase is an American pioneer in using social media tools in the hospital environment, and is an advocate for social media adoption in health care.” I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him a few times by phone, and even called him once to get his opinion on a course of action when we were going through a crisis situation. Of course his advice was amazing, but beyond that, he’s a genuinely nice person who has really figured out what it takes for a health care organization (or any organization for that matter) to be successful in social media. Be sure to check out his blog too .

@edbennett Ed Bennett is someone I came to admire admired several years ago when I  first I stumbled upon him and his blog, Found in Cache http://ebennett.org/. I was so grateful to make that connection. He’s got a  soothing voice, is quite witty and also loves dogs, which in my opinion makes him a great guy! I think of him as one of the pioneers in this field, and we have much to thank him for, including the big list of hospitals in social media (now moved over to the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media). While we haven’t met in real life yet, I’m hoping (fingers crossed!) it will happen one of these days. It would be my honor.

@nickdawson Nick is a guy with some wonderful, original thoughts about health care and the social media world but is also willing to talk about many subjects. I LOVE his LinkedIn profile: “Former hospital leader now using design-thinking to inspire better staff and patient experiences.” He seems to travel a lot more than I ever could think about, and is a speaker at many of the big conferences. I’m hoping to hear him one of these days, but until then, I’ll have to follow him on Twitter and I hope you will, too. And, don’t forget to check out his blog.

@hivedan Dan Hinmon is the head of Hive Strategies, and works in hospital social media.. He shares a wealth of information and personally is such an enjoyable person to chat with. He’s also got a blog that should be on your reading list, the Social Media Strategy Blog. And be sure to check out his 7 core values at the heart of social media.

@danamlewis Dana Lewis is one of those people who I consider simply amazing. She manages the social media efforts of Swedish Health Services and is the founder of Healthcare Communications and Social Media, #hcsm, a weekly Twitter chat. You can find information on #hcsm here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked her a question on Twitter and always receive a quick, helpful response.

@riggrl When I met Jen Riggle on Twitter, she was working for a firm on the East Coast. She’s got a wonderful take on the industry and she is also a guest blogger here on Hospital Impact , so you may be familiar with her amazing work. She is kind, thoughtful, smart and witty, and shares fantastic information you won’t want to miss.

@ReedSmith Reed is one of those really smart guys who is thoughtful and is always on my “go-to” list with questions about the industryHe is the founder of the Social Health Institute and is also a consultant for health care organizations and practices that are using social media. Be sure to follow his blog for new insight into health care and social media.

@Ahaval I’ve followed Ahava Leibtag for quite a while, and recently had the honor of being interviewed for her blog. She is one of those people who never seems to stop! She’s smart, funny and so hard working that  her passion for this industry comes through loud and clear. She’s a thought leader on digital strategy and a talented writer who always shares valuable information. You can check out some of her publications here and her blog here.

@chrisboyer Chris directs digital marketing for Inova Health System, and is simply amazing. His blog says “Chris Boyer is an active participant in the rapidly evolving field of healthcare new-media marketing. He’s a speaker and educator and someone who puts talk into action by creating and testing new digital strategies.” He is, in a word, brilliant, in my humble opinion, and I’ve learned so much from him. Be sure to follow him on Twitter AND subscribe to his blog.

@dandunlop Dan Dunlop is the president of Jennings, a health care marketing agency. Dan is one of those folks who you feel as if you’ve known for a long time, even if you’ve never met him in real life. I chat with him often on Twitter, and also love to read his blog, The Healthcare Marketer, where you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks of the trade, as well as some through-provoking questions on why we do what we do.

If you’re using social media for your hospital or medical practice, or if you’re in the field and just tweet personally, be sure to tweet these folks and introduce yourself. And like so many people in the Twitterverse, they are all kind and willing to help you with questions you might have, or point you in the right direction.

There’s also a group of “health care influencers” who can provide an overview of the health care industry and trends.  Also, be sure to follow the hashtags #hcmktg and #hcsm to keep up with all the latest in the health care marketing field.

Now I know there are so many others I could and should have mentioned here, but I limited myself to 10. So let’s add to this list and share some of the “tweeps” on your health care social media list.

 This post was originally written for and appeared on www.hospitalimpact.org


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Why I don’t work on Sundays

candleThis is a rant. I don’t do these often. For a long time, though, I’ve had some thoughts I couldn’t quite put into words. It’s more of a feeling that just couldn’t be quite defined. Until now.

But this week I came across a post that just got me thinking. And it made me mad too, and I realized that what I had been thinking about was this: people are expected to do way too much these days, and something’s gotta give.

Here’s the post: “Why productive people work on Sundays.” The title alone annoyed me. It implies that people who don’t work on Sundays are not productive. Wrong. Everyone has their own way of working and everyone has their own workload to manage. It doesn’t mean that you have to work on Sundays to be a productive, worthwhile member of society or a valued employee of a company. I consider myself to be a very productive person and pride myself on how much of a workload I manage on a regular basis. I do what it takes to get the job done, and I know I’m not alone in that. And I’m willing to bet that all those other productive people are not working every Sunday.

The other thing that bothered me about the post is the fact that this writer is suggesting that we take time out of what is conventionally known to all as the “day of rest.” For me and Mr. J, Sunday is our day to enjoy the morning and relax and then go out for a leisurely lunch and cocktail. It’s the one day we indulge ourselves in some R&R time. That’s our time together. I would imagine that for those with children, that day is ever more precious, and needed more too!

Now granted, there are some professions and jobs that just simply have to work on Sundays… nurses, doctors, waiters and waitresses, the retail industry, and the list goes on. But those people have other days off.

The other thing that post made me realize is that there are some factors at play that make up the reality of today. Thanks to the horrible economy, most companies have fewer people expected to do more with less money. So there’s a bigger workload for most people, who are already stretching themselves too thin. And how many hours of our lives are we expected to dedicate to a job rather than our lives? When did it become the norm to live to work rather than work to live?

Now, let’s add to these expectations the fact that if you’re not part of the social media world you’re probably not going to be a top candidate for any jobs in the field of marketing or public relations (or any number of fields for that matter), right? In this industry, if you’re not part of social media, you may as well call it quits and retire. So let’s add on the hours that you can spend (lose?) just keeping up with Facebook status updates, tweets, retweets, hashtags and lists in Twitter, Instagram pics, Pinterest pins, and so on. And don’t forget the time post to your own blog, and catch up on the reading of all your fave blogs and commenting on those posts. Hmmm.

Do you see where I’m going here… suddenly a 40-hour a week job becomes 60 just to get your work done and keep up with everything in the social sphere. I know there are many people who are just totally driven and are not happy unless they’re working all the time. But for the most part, those people are often self-employed. There are others of us who work for companies who are trying to do manage workloads that should be handled by more than one person, and who are also trying to keep up with being a part of the social world. They also try to maintain some sort of family life.

As my dad used to say, “You’re burning the candle at both ends.” I can’t think of a time in history when this is more true.  And this is the reality of today. I don’t think everyone can keep up this pace for too long. Eventually, it’s going to meet in the middle and there will be no wick left, and the candle is not a candle anymore. It’s given all it had to give. There’s nothing left to burn.

So how long do you think you can keep going at the pace you’re going? When is your candle going to meet in the middle? Do you feel it necessary to work on Sundays? Do you think it’s necessary to be productive? So many questions. I’d love to hear from you.


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5 reasons to appreciate interns

MP900398817Every semester we have interns from local colleges who apply to work with us for the semester for NO pay. They do it for the experience and to build some portfolio pieces for when they start applying for jobs.

I’m always amazed that these young adults give up their free time to do this. I can’t help but think that there’s a lifetime of work ahead of them and they should be enjoying their summer off at the beach, or studying or working at a job that pays!

When I was in college, I didn’t do an internship. I worked. A lot. I did jobs that had nothing to do with my college major – restaurants, a video store (back when those existed), a doctor’s office, a welfare office… about as far as you could get for an English Lit major!  But I think the world has changed a lot since those days. Today without some kind of experience, new college grads would be hard pressed to land a job against their competition. They need that leg up!

I’m really lucky to work with a great team of women who really enjoy the opportunity to be a mentor. We see it as a great way to share our experience and to help someone who’s just starting out. Personally, I also see it as an opportunity to meet the next generation, the up-and-comers as I like to think of them, and boy have we had some amazing interns. I wish we could have hired many of them on the spot.

I think our team enjoys the experience of having an intern here because we get a chance to meet someone who has excitement and a fresh take on things… someone who hasn’t yet become jaded and looks at everything with new eyes. It’s refreshing and I love seeing what we do through their eyes.

So while we hope we are inspiring them as they start out in their career, I think they also inspire us. Here’s how:

1. They challenge us. There’s nothing that makes you stop and think about why you do something more than someone asking, “why do you do that.” Suddenly, “because we always have” just doesn’t fit the bill anymore and you begin to question how effective your methods are. Maybe it’s time to rethink things!

2. They bring a new level of creativity to projects. They’re young, and fresh, and creative and not tired and have so much energy! If you’re giving them a good internship, then it will be a mix of projects – some of which they’ve learned about or done already and others that you’ll introduce them to. There’s nothing like seeing someone tackle something new with some gusto to remind you that you might want to bring some more creativity into your own projects!

3. They have experiences that we don’t. In social media, that’s critical. These students have basically grown up with a phone in their hands. Multi-tasking is second nature to them. Pay attention. You can learn a lot from them.

4. They introduce you to new things. They bring new ways of doing things to the table. Nothing makes me stop and think more than when one of our interns says, “We were working on a similar project in class and my professor suggested…” It’s like getting a free education! Well, sort of.

5. They remind you of what it is you love about your job. If you enjoy your job, and you start to explain it to an intern, hopefully your passion will shine through. Let’s face it…it’s really easy to forget that passion on a daily basis. But having someone new around to hear what you do and why you do it will hopefully reignite that little spark and remind you of just how much you love what you do. It will renew your energy!

Our summer interns finished last week. I already miss them and all they brought to the table. Of course it goes without saying that I will also miss all the work they do to help out in social media on a daily basis! So this is a thank you to all our interns over the years. Please know that you’ll be missed, and I hope each of you has learned a little something to take with you as you embark on your careers.

Now if you’re reading this, what is your favorite part of working with an intern?

I published this last night, and then today, saw this article on the possible demise of unpaid internships. What a shame. http://www.boston.com/business/personal-finance/2013/06/25/companies-that-ran-into-legal-woes-over-unpaid-interns/YQbPrmmqn7Ackyf8Mf98hJ/story.html