Once upon a time there was a very strong woodcutter. He asked for a job from a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was very good and so were the work conditions and for that reason the woodcutter was determined to do his very best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area in the forest where he was to work.
The first day the woodcutter cut down 18 trees. His boss was extremely impressed and said, “Well done. Keep it up. You are our best woodcutter yet.” Motivated by his boss’s words, the woodcutter tried even harder the next day, but he only cut down 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder but only cut down 10 trees.
Day after day the woodcutter cut down fewer and fewer trees. His boss came to him and told him that if he did not chop down more trees each day he would lose his job. The woodcutter needed the job, so he tried harder and harder. He worked during his lunch breaks and tea breaks, but still he could not cut down enough trees. “I must be losing my strength” the wood-cutter thought to himself. He worked over-time, but still it was not enough.
Eventually his boss came to him and told him he was fired. The woodcutter was really upset, but he knew that he had worked as hard as he could and just did not have enough time to chop more trees. He sadly handed his axe back.
The boss took one look at the axe and asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?”
“Sharpen my axe?” the woodcutter replied. “I have never sharpened my axe. I have been too busy trying to cut down enough trees.”
Recently the Amendola team took a two-day time-out to sharpen our collective axes. Rather than “cutting down trees” – which in our world equates to creating PR and marketing campaigns, writing industry bylines, and making a buzz on social media – Amendola’s 20+ employees came together, pulled out our sharpeners, and discussed ways to achieve greater excellence in our work.
A good portion of our agenda focused on best practices, including prepping for a successful HIMSS18, optimizing media relations activities, and deploying innovative PR campaigns. In addition to spending a bit of time discussing operational issues – because we recognize there’s always room for improvement when it comes to communications and collaboration – we also enjoyed a fun mix of networking activities that helped us get to know one another better.
No one left the retreat without learning something new, either about PR in general, or about Amendola’s wide variety of services, or about members of the Amendola team. It’s impossible to share all the details, but here are a few of my picks for “Best of the Retreat” moments.
PR best practices
Press release SEO optimization – A representative from Cision provided us with some great tips for optimizing SEO within client press releases. Everyone on the Amendola team is now better informed about Google’s recommendations for the number of links in a release; the optimal length for a headline; how domain authority is calculated; and, the best location for the call to action. If you’re curious about any of these best practices, ask your A-Team representative!
Media relations – Amendola’s in-house media relations experts advised us on the art of successful pitch writing to ensure placements in top healthcare IT publications. We also reviewed the need to encourage clients to amplify good news/published bylines/interviews, both internally within their organization and through social media channels (assuming Amendola does not handle this for them.) We want to make sure your stories have “legs!”
Non-healthcare/health IT examples – It’s a big PR world out there – which is why we looked outside the healthcare/health IT realm to identify innovative strategies that could be successfully modified for our clients. We had some fun thinking about ways we could hijack the buzz around HIMSS to benefit our clients – similar to what Volvo did during the 2015 Super Bowl.
I wonder if our woodcutter ever found himself paying so much attention to his own trees that he failed to see the forest around him. I must admit that I often get so involved in my own work that I don’t notice what else is going on at Amendola. However, I now know that we offer so many more services than I ever realized. For example:
Marketing services – This includes everything from branding and design, creating collateral, developing messaging, managing trade show participation, and developing every aspect of websites.
Social media – While I realized we managed social media for many Amendola clients, I didn’t realize the breadth of available options. Some of our enhanced services include managing Twitter chats, providing social media training for executives, and live event-tweeting and engaging.
Digital media – Health IT organizations need solid online marketing strategies and Amendola has experts available to help. I realized that we create great content for clients in terms of whitepapers, case studies, blog posts, etc., but was not aware of the number of additional services we provide, such as creating basic buyer personas, developing content marketing strategies and content calendars, and producing videos.
Amplification – Amendola doesn’t just help clients amplify their messages through traditional social media channels. We also help to create and manage paid advertising programs, including campaigns that leverage search, display, and social advertising.
And more – In fact, much more: Amendola can help clients evaluate and enhance their search engine rankings and manage their inbound marketing programs, email automation, and CRM programs. What I’ve learned is that if it is PR or marketing related, it’s worth asking if we do it!
Amendola’s biggest asset is its people! About half the staff are like me and work remotely. Even after working at the firm for two years I had only met about half the team in person, including a few I work with almost daily. We enjoyed connecting with one another on a more personal level and having the time to discuss more than just work topics. We had a couple of fun dinners and a few of us early-birds even took a sunrise hike.
Here are a few of my observations about the people of Amendola:
- Jodi Amendola knows how to hire good people. Everyone is smart, well-spoken, and brings something valuable to the table.
- We’re a diverse bunch. Some have had long tenures working for PR agencies, but others previously worked for healthcare providers, healthcare IT firms, and media. With such varied backgrounds, we can always find an internal expert who can offer additional guidance or a second opinion.
- When we aren’t working, we stay busy with our families and enjoying hobbies such as traveling, exercising, performing in bands, coaching softball, camping, and golfing.
Everyone on the Amendola team now has a sharper axe to wield – and is committed to being a highly productive woodcutter on behalf of clients.
I fear those poor trees don’t stand a chance.