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Amendola Appoints Seasoned Communications and Public Relations Leader Jennifer Cohen as Senior Account Director

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 2, 2019Amendola, a nationally recognized, award-winning healthcare and healthcare technology public relations and marketing agency, announced today that Jennifer Cohen has joined the agency as senior account director. Cohen will create and manage client programs and initiatives, provide strategic counsel, and represent the agency’s healthcare/healthcare IT clients in front of media and digital influencers.

Jenn Cohen

Cohen brings to the agency nearly 15 years of experience building, managing and executing marketing, communication and PR programs. Having worked for companies such as Change Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare, Cohen has a wealth of experience leading high-performing teams; building and executing strategic communications and marketing programs; and leveraging PR and innovative digital strategies to transform and protect her clients’ brands.

Most recently Cohen held the role of corporate communications director for NextGen Healthcare, where she served as a C-suite advisor, guiding the executive leadership team through a brand transformation and two strategic acquisitions. Additionally, she led employee and client communications, public and media relations, and investor relations, ensuring relevant and consistent communications to both internal and external stakeholders.

Prior to NextGen Healthcare, Cohen served as director of strategic product marketing and communications for Change Healthcare, one of the largest independent healthcare IT companies in the United States, servicing customers across the entire care continuum.

“Jenn brings a rich portfolio of skills and relevant experience developing comprehensive marketing, communication and PR strategies for companies of all sizes,” said the agency’s CEO Jodi Amendola. “Her deep understanding of the healthcare/HIT landscape and extensive experience leading M&A strategies will bring additional capabilities to the robust and diverse Amendola PR and marketing team.”Cohen holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and strategic media planning from Arizona State University.

Media Contact: Marcia Rhodes, 480.664.8412, ext. 15, mrhodes@ACmarketingPR.com

Amendola Communications Adds Content Marketer and Healthcare IT Specialist as Senior Writer

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. – March 12, 2019Amendola Communications, a nationally recognized, award-winning healthcare and healthcare technology public relations and marketing agency, announced today that Louie Holwerk has joined the agency as Senior Writer. An award-winning healthcare IT writer and content marketer, Holwerk will create a wide variety of PR and marketing materials for the agency’s healthcare/healthcare IT clients.

Holwerk’s specializations include revenue cycle management (RCM), healthcare predictive analytics, and industry and regulatory trends through the lens of how they impact providers, patients, and communities. Prior to joining Amendola, he led the strategic messaging, PR writing, and content marketing efforts at ZirMed, which subsequently merged with Navicure to form Waystar.

In addition to his healthcare IT experience, Holwerk held key communications roles at Groupon during its meteoric growth, and successfully steered strategic sales communications as the company shifted from an email- to a search-driven business. Most recently, he provided consulting services to early-stage startups as well as industrial manufacturing and specialty RCM firms. He began his career as a freelance writing and visual arts professional.

Agency CEO Jodi Amendola said: “Louie’s strong background in content marketing is the perfect complement to his health IT knowledgebase. Increasingly, our clients look to us to assist them in optimizing their content performance and marketing funnel while also conducting strategic, impactful PR activities. We’re excited to have him on board as part of the A-Team.”

“Having worked with Amendola on the client side, I’m thrilled to be joining a team of world-class marketing and PR professionals,” Holwerk said. “I’m also looking forward to working with Amendola’s clients—they’re changing the game in healthcare, and contributing to their storytelling and content-marketing efforts is a true honor.”

Holwerk holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also earned certificates in Folklore and Creative Writing. He holds an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Media Contact: Marcia Rhodes | 480.664.8412 x 15 | mrhodes@acmarketingpr.com

 

 

VisiQuate Engages Amendola for Strategic PR, Marketing and Content Program

Award-winning health IT agency to elevate thought leadership for top healthcare business analytics solutions leader

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Feb. 26, 2019Amendola, a nationally recognized, award-winning healthcare and health IT public relations and marketing agency, has been selected as the agency of record for VisiQuate, a leader in business analytics serving healthcare enterprises.

VisiQuate previously engaged Amendola to launch a successful media relations campaign, which drove the decision to expand the engagement. With the expanded program, Amendola will implement a broad range of PR, marketing and content strategies to generate awareness around VisiQuate’s healthcare business analytics solutions—including Ana, the industry’s first virtual Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer. VisiQuate’s solutions enable healthcare organizations to connect disparate data sources, automate complex business processes, and adopt artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to transform the way healthcare organizations use data to eliminate the waste involved with revenue cycle management.

“Healthcare technology solutions, when powered by AI and machine learning, is rapidly being recognized and welcomed across the industry,” said Brian Robertson, CEO of VisiQuate. “We chose to expand our existing partnership with Amendola due to their unmatched healthcare technology expertise, strategy and relationships that lead to high-value engagements with media, industry influencers and stakeholders across the healthcare continuum.”

“VisiQuate is shaking up healthcare analytics as we know it,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola. “From developing the industry’s first virtual Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer to their solutions focused on improving cash flow while also improving patient outcomes, their contributions are allowing clinicians to focus on delivering quality care rather than time-intensive administrative burdens. We look forward to a strong continued partnership with VisiQuate to build thought leadership, drive awareness and deliver measurable results.”

Amendola will create and execute a comprehensive, strategic plan that will include securing trade and national media placements to showcase the strong outcomes revenue cycle professionals have had when working with VisiQuate. Press releases and contributed content will position the team as thought leaders, while speaking opportunities and awards will continue to showcase the innovative and disruptive work being done to improve patient outcomes through the use of better business intelligence.

About VisiQuate

VisiQuate is an expert managed service that helps clients achieve peak business health. With advanced AI capabilities, VisiQuate integrates complex data and presents it as role-personalized insights and actionable workflows. Root causes, trends, and opportunities become clear, leading to real-world results. VisiQuate’s virtual AI assistant, Ana, is informed by the experience of industry leaders and delivers reports within seconds of being asked, suggesting next steps that yield greater value. To learn more, visit www.visiquate.com.

Media Contact:
Jenn Cohen
Amendola Communications

404.759.3933
jcohen@acmarketingpr.com

Alliance for Better Health engages Amendola communications for marketing services

PR and marketing firm to help the organization communicate its goal of transforming the care delivery system

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., January 29, 2019 – Amendola, a nationally recognized, award-winning health care and technology public relations and marketing agency, is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Alliance for Better Health to provide PR and marketing services to the organization.

Amendola will help Alliance for Better Health develop its PR strategy and collaborate with the organization to develop an integrated, coordinated marketing plan.

“Alliance for Better Health’s mission, its innovative approach to building health equity, and its focus on addressing social determinants of health is admirable and inspirational. We expect to see great things from this organization in the coming years and we’re excited to help them get the word out about the amazing work they’re doing,” said CEO Jodi Amendola.

The New York-based Alliance for Better Health’s innovation program is providing more than $5 million to dozens of organizations in the Capital Region to demonstrate new concepts that are proactive in maximizing the health of individuals and, as a result, reducing the need for medical care and the financial burden of that care on individuals, business and taxpayers.

Alliance for Better Health CEO Jacob Reider, M.D., is passionate about addressing social determinants of health, but recognizes there’s still a lot of work to do to raise awareness of its benefits. “It’s so important, but many managed care organizations, community-based organizations and independent physicians struggle to effectively adopt best practices and coordinate services,” Reider said. “Engaging Amendola is just part of our commitment to helping organizations promote the health of people and communities.”

Amendola will be responsible for creating a comprehensive media relations plan that will include securing trade, national and local media placements to showcase the results CMOs, CBOs and IPAs have had when working with Alliance for Better Health. Press releases and contributed content will position the team as content experts and thought leaders and secure speaking opportunities and awards.

About Alliance for Better Health

Alliance for Better Health engages medical and social service providers in developing innovative solutions to promote the health of people and communities, with a goal of transforming the care delivery system into one that incentivizes health and prevention. Established in 2015 as a Performing Provider System in the New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program (DSRIP), Alliance partners with more than 2,000 providers and organizations across a six- county area in New York’s Tech Valley and Capital Region.

CAREMINDr Engages Amendola Communications for Public Relations, Marketing and Content Development

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., October 30, 2018 – Amendola Communications, a nationally recognized, award-winning healthcare and health IT public relations and marketing agency, is pleased to announce that it has been selected as the PR and marketing agency of record for CAREMINDr, a Silicon Valley-based mobile-enabled remote patient monitoring (mRPM) solution.

Amendola is leveraging a broad range of PR, marketing and content services to promote CAREMINDr’s innovative automated, turnkey mRPM solution to Medicare Advantage plans and other health plans and managed care organizations, physicians’ practices, employer groups and health systems. The CAREMINDr-Amendola collaboration is already shining a light on CAREMINDr’s thought leadership and innovation in the space, including published and accepted articles in leading media outlets such as Medical Economics, Healthcare IT News, Managed Healthcare Executive and AMGA’s Group Practice Journal.

Founded in 2017, CAREMINDr allows providers to efficiently monitor and “check in” with patients between appointments through automated, scheduled, condition-specific and clinically relevant patient-reported data capture. Consistent mobile communication, actionable insights and timely interventions enable providers to boost patient engagement to improve chronic care management, care transitions and outcomes. CAREMINDr offers health plans, health systems, physician groups and other organizations focused on population health management the tools needed to empower providers in achieving the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim of lower costs, healthier populations and more satisfied patients.

“We knew we needed an experienced PR and marketing partner to tell CAREMINDr’s story about how we’re helping providers and payers improve patient engagement and outcomes while lowering healthcare costs,” said Harry Soza, CEO of CAREMINDr. “When I thought about the best agency I had worked with, Jodi Amendola and her team came to mind immediately. We chose Amendola because they have the healthcare industry expertise, media relationships and marketing strategies that will enable more health plans, health systems and medical practices to learn more about CAREMINDr and how we can optimize outcomes for their patients or members.”

Amendola is promoting CAREMINDr through numerous PR, marketing and content marketing programs, supported by Amendola’s top-tier media research and relations. The agency is working with CAREMINDr to increase brand awareness and thought leadership by communicating its core value proposition to target audiences, drawing on Amendola’s deep industry knowledge and significant media relationships in health IT. Amendola is also delivering a wide range of content demonstrating the thought leadership and expertise of CAREMINDr’s leaders, all of whom are leaders and innovators in various fields of healthcare, health insurance and population health management.

“CAREMINDr’s CEO Harry Soza is a serial healthcare tech entrepreneur who brings innovation and creativity to every project he touches; I’m so thrilled to be working with him again,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola Communications. “The vast majority of Americans are active users of smartphones and other mobile devices, so CAREMINDr’s convenient, efficient and clinically relevant mRPM solution is a smart and timely way for providers and health plans to engage patients to take ownership of their own health for better outcomes and lower costs.”

About CAREMINDr

CAREMINDr, a Silicon Valley company, is led by a team of experienced healthcare executives, technology experts and leading physicians that deliver proven technology solutions to healthcare organizations nationwide. CAREMINDr leverages the power of mobile-enabled remote patient monitoring (mRPM) to bridge the gap between physician appointments for stronger patient engagement and more efficient population health management. The automated, turnkey solution enables physicians to effortlessly “check in” on patients between visits. Patients conveniently and efficiently provide biometric, objective and subjective data. This approach monitors health status and social determinants, on a condition-dependent, clinically relevant schedule. The mRPM approach enables physicians to reduce ED visits and unnecessary hospital admissions and readmissions, while improving patient engagement, outcomes and satisfaction. Find out more at www.caremindr.com

Media Contact:
Tara Stultz
Amendola Communications
440.225.9595
tstultz@acmarketingpr.com

Tradeshow Trauma: Why “booth traffic was slow” is a lame excuse and how to prepare for conference success

As a marketing and PR professional who has spent countless hours in tradeshow booths and walked more than 20,000 steps at the HIMSS conference while wearing heels, I’ve experienced both the glory and the defeat of being an exhibitor. And while there is no better feeling than packing up your boxes, tearing down the booth and heading home after a job well done, there is also no greater pain than realizing that your company’s precious time and resources were virtually wasted because your conference strategy fell short.

After every tradeshow, it’s common to speak with exhibitors who complain that “booth traffic was slow” and cite that reason as the root of their conference failure. But let’s be honest — that’s a lame excuse. It’s the easy way out to blame poor performance at the show on exhibit hall organizers rather than reflecting on how your team may be at fault, or at least largely contributed to the problem.

In fact, upon much-needed reflection, those complainers would see that they are likely committing the cardinal sin of tradeshow marketing. They’re only focused on the conference.  They’re not focused on the holistic strategy that enables the smartest, more successful companies to succeed at conferences again and again and again.

To avoid this tradeshow trauma and emerge triumphant in 2018, it’s critical for companies to have a three-pronged approach that includes not just a conference strategy where you show up and wait, but also and even more importantly a pre-conference strategy and a post-conference strategy.

Here are 4 insider secrets to help you get started:

#1 Never rely on booth traffic 

Sure, booth traffic is nice and we all want it but it’s even better to drive traffic to your booth in advance. As savvy marketing professionals know, the best tradeshow marketing strategies start early and establish a regular cadence of communication. Most companies find that implementing a targeted email campaign starting 6 weeks in advance of the show is ideal but some may find that 8 weeks or 4 weeks works best for their audience.

These emails should be geared to both sales prospects to schedule meetings or demos and current clients to have a face-to-face touchpoint and determine cross-sale opportunities. As always, the top-performing emails are brief and targeted to attendees by role and job setting. It’s also best to have a form where attendees can schedule time and then receive a confirmation with a calendar invite. Why is that so important? It gets you on attendees’ calendars before they arrive at the show and are overwhelmed. Also, then your team can send them reminders about the scheduled slot or reach out if they don’t arrive as planned.

#2 Winning is great but winning isn’t everything

Pre-conference email campaigns can also invite attendees to activities in the booth such as speaking events or games instead of just meetings and demos. They can also offer attendees “a chance to win” and highlight big prizes, but they must not rely on the allure of a gimmick alone. There are few too many promotions for your giveaway to break through the noise. A pre-conference strategy that shares quality content, in addition to touting “a trip for 100 around the world” is the safest, most effective way to not only illustrate thought leadership but also to create brand awareness of your company as leader and innovator that offers far more than just a chance to win – but rather real ROI.

#3 Think like an attendee

Spoiler alert for those many hours spent in the booth. Nobody wants your marketing brochure! It will end up in the next trash can even if they take it, and if it makes it back to their room, it will end up in the hotel trash can. They also really don’t want a folder with multiple product one-pagers and a recent press release about your new product. Please note that this realization also spares your marketing team and admin hours of folder stuffing. Yes, you’re welcome.

The big idea here is to remember why attendees are at the conference. Most attendees are there to learn, not to purchase your “ground-breaking, best in class, fully integrated solution.” So, give them what they want like client case studies with real-world insights and thought leadership that demonstrates your knowledge and unique perspective. That’s the true value proposition that won’t get throw in the trash.

#4 Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up 

It’s great to have a successful show, but it’s what companies do afterwards that matters most. It’s all about the follow-up communications, which should include a series of e-blasts, with the first prepared ahead of time and sent within 1-2 days of show close. The post-show e-blast should provide an opportunity to continue to engage with your company by downloading a new piece of content, registering for a webinar, or scheduling a full product demo for their broader team. However, the e-blast is not enough. To see results, it must be complimented by personalized follow-up from the sales team where there is even a small percentage chance of generating new pipeline. Without this timely and dedicated post-show communications, it’s impossible to reap the benefits of your hard work pre-show and at the show.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many people attend the tradeshow. Only that the right people make it to your booth.

Instead of leaving success to chance, put together a three-prong plan that will tip the odds in your favor. It sure beats coming up with lame excuses later.

 

Getting a message across to providers

3 Ways Healthcare Companies Can Lead with Empathy

There is a persistent stereotype of public relations professionals as “spin doctors.” We’re hired guns aiming to put lipstick on a pig, pull the wool over someone’s eyes, or <insert any other cliched maxim here>. The last thing we would do is tell clients to lead with empathy, telling honest stories from the heart.

In truth, PR folks want to help companies clarify, amplify and distribute their message and their mission. Often, innovators are too close their own products to effectively tell their own stories. To speak for them, PR people must first understand what drives the company—from its origin story to the everyday passions of the company’s employees.

Listening is the most important skill in PR. Empathy is the most important mindset. And nowhere is this as vital as within the healthcare industry.

Hundreds of thousands of people work across the American healthcare system with a single, shared goal: to help people. It is easy to lose sight of this. Insurers, hospitals, life sciences companies, health tech startups and other healthcare vendors struggle to respond to a buffet of financial and regulatory challenges that are amplified by the current transformation to value-based care.

One Boston hospital CEO described it best when she said that the biggest struggle for most healthcare organizations is “having one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock.” Many providers have made significant strides towards goals such as shifting to pay-for-performance contracts, launching population health programs, or modernizing their payment systems to reflect consumer-driven health plans. But extending clinical and patient experience best practices to every last patient remains an elusive goal for most.

It is fair to say that our healthcare company clients all have one thing in common—they are all working to help healthcare providers (or insurers or employers) to get “both feet into the boat” when it comes to value-based care.  Understanding the importance of this mission, and its inherent challenges, is our first job as healthcare PR professionals.

Our second job is to help clients to lead with empathy, by guiding them back, again and again, to their core value – helping customers tackle the goals of the Triple Aim. Here are three ways healthcare companies can cut to the core of what matters, tell their company story effectively, and gain customer loyalty:

Everyone is a patient

Some of the most effective and memorable client communications I have seen draw on the healthcare experiences of CEOs, other C-suite executives, researchers, other employees, or their families. We all have stories of instances when the healthcare system has not delivered on its promise, and these experiences often drive the development of new solutions among healthcare companies. Meeting “unmet medical needs” begins with sharing what these needs are and why they are important with a variety of audiences. This is often best done through personal stories.

See the caregiver

 The decisions made by healthcare providers on a daily basis have life-changing consequences. Many of our clients aim to make those decisions easier, by offering evidence-based content support, by getting rid of background noise that can cloud judgment, or by simply shaving time off each clinician’s administrative burden. If healthcare companies can drill down further to describe how products may positively impact specific patient interactions, particular care transitions or certain data reporting processes, this is likely to spur more “aha” moments among reporters, potential customers and investors.

We’re all in this together

It’s easier to make the empathy connection when a healthcare vendor’s primary audience is patients or clinicians. But what about companies who are targeting CIOs, physician practice managers, front office staff, payers and employers? How, for instance, do revenue cycle management tools make patients’ lives better?

Connect the dots here by developing case studies, blogs and other content that drives home the value of these tools to the healthcare ecosystem, and to particular individuals. Circling back to the core mission driving the company is especially important when the success stories may not *typically* be front page news. This is key to driving continued interest among the press and potential customers, but also to fanning the passions of your workforce. Everyone within any healthcare enterprise wants to feel that they are doing good in the world. Investing in uncovering success stories will have long-term benefits both internally and externally.

The first step

To build a PR program that leads with empathy, you need to uncover the stories that help your target audience connect not only with your products, but with your company culture and your commitment to making a difference. Look for that human element and you will find your programs are far more effective.

Simple Language and Communication Success

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump continues to demonstrate some of the best – and worst – PR practices. Included in the best category: Trump’s mastery of “simple language.”

This recent article exploring the “linguistic” decline of Trump’s language got me thinking about Trump’s repetitive use of simple words and phrases. Some people theorize that Trump’s language style indicates his cognitive skills are slipping. An alternative theory is that Trump has purposively adopted a simplistic communication style because he finds it effective. Perhaps Trump has mastered the art of the deal – or at least figured out how to deal with communicating to the masses.

Trump’s simple language is easy to comprehend and his messages are easily retained. If you are in public relations, or if you are in any way motivated to promote a product, service, or even yourself, a look at Trump’s communication style reveals a few lessons.

Why simple is better in PR

We live in a complex world with a constant barrage of information that we’re expected to comprehend and retain. This is especially true in healthcare, with all its jargon and acronyms. It’s thus no wonder that we are drawn to the simple – things like Southwest Airlines’ no-hidden-fee pricing, the iPhone’s user-friendly interface, and the Keurig’s no-mess system for brewing a single cup of coffee. In the same way, our overloaded brains appreciate plain-language messaging that is clear and concise.

Whether it is a website, a press release or a speech, your audience should not have to read (or listen to) your content multiple times to comprehend its meaning. You don’t want your prospective customer to view your website and wonder what the heck you’re selling or why you’re better than the competition. When you craft your message in simple language, it’s easier to understand and remember.

Unfortunately, simple language content is not simple to create and is arguably harder to craft than jargon-filled messages with run-on sentences and $5 words.

Best practices for keeping it simple

Whether you’re writing or speaking, consider these best practices for simplifying your message:

Use simple words – As Mark Twain said, “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” It’s more important that your audience understands your message than it is to impress them with your vast vocabulary. Keep the language plain and simple.

Keep sentences and paragraphs short – Avoid trying to communicate too many ideas within a single sentence or paragraph. Target a sentence length of 20 to 30 words and limit paragraphs to two to three sentences, especially when the content is written. Readers will follow and retain your message more easily.

Eliminate the fluff – One way to keep sentences short and sweet is to eliminate unnecessary words and keep the message concise. For example, rather than say “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood,” Martin Luther King, Jr. could have said “I have a dream that one day all Georgians will eat together as friends.” Okay, okay, my sincere apologies to one of history’s greatest orators, as there clearly is a time and place for fluff – but it’s not within a press release.

Get rid of the jargon –Your target audience won’t assume you are an expert in your field just because you use a lot of industry jargon. In fact, the very people you are trying to impress may tune you out if they don’t understand the meaning of those terms. Replace the jargon with plain language substitutes whenever possible.

Stay active – Use an active, not passive, voice. The passive voice typically requires more words, especially the use of prepositional phrases that can create vagueness. For example, do say, “The company is exhibiting its products at HIMSS,” and avoid saying, “The products will be on exhibit by the company while at HIMSS.” Not only is the first version smoother and shorter, it is also more easily understood.

You may also want to consider running a readability index on your content. Readability indexes, such as Flesch-Kincaid and Gunning Fog, will estimate how easy it is to read and comprehend your text based on word and sentence length, syllable counts and other factors. A message that scores a reading level of grade 7 or 8 is considered to be an easy read and in plain English. It’s also the ideal level for communicating with the masses. Interestingly, the average score for medical information designed to educate patients is a grade level of 10 or higher.

Finally, here’s one more reason to adopt a simpler language style: it can improve your website’s SEO rank. Readability is one of the many signals that Google uses to rank websites. If you want a higher ranking, make sure your text easy to read and perceive.

Adopting a simpler language style may not be simple – but it can lead to greater communication success!

6 Tips for Making Your Customer Success Stories More Compelling

Everyone loves a great customer success story. You can talk features and benefits in the abstract all day, but nothing brings home the concept that those features and benefits will actually solve the problem you’re trying to address than hearing it already did the same for someone else. It’s the ultimate sales tool.

Of course, getting customers to agree to participate in a success story isn’t always easy. Some aren’t allowed to participate by corporate edict. Others are afraid to because they don’t want to admit that anything in their organizations was ever not hunky-dorey. Some just don’t want to spend their time that way.

So when a customer does agree to tell their story about their experience with your organization, you definitely want to make the most of the opportunity. Here are a few tips that will help you make that happen.

Start with your organization’s contact(s)

This is a step that often gets skipped. Someone fills out a form, usually in a hurry, and assumes that’s all the background the writer will need to interview the customer. Not true!

It’s always helpful to speak with the people who work with the customer every day – salespeople, customer service, tech support, trainers, or whoever is most germane to the story you want to tell. They often have perspectives to share that they wouldn’t think to add to a form but that come out in the course of a conversation. Especially if the person doing the interview is experienced at drawing out those types of thoughts.

Gather the background from the internal contact and let that help guide the customer questions.

Always speak to the customer

Some people in the organization (read: salespeople, usually) may be reluctant to have anyone speak directly to their customer for fear the new person will do something crazy that hurts the relationship. Not sure exactly what they’re expecting, but if you’re working with professionals there is very little chance of that happening.

It is important for the writer to speak to the customer because that is the best way to get the “real” story. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on an interview and the story the customer tells differs substantially from what the company insider thought had happened. It’s not that either is untrue – it’s simply a matter of perspective, and what is important to each.

Ultimately, you want it to be the customer’s story, and it’s the customer who has to give final approval. Best to get the story they think you’re there to write directly from them. Trust me, it will save a lot of time on the back end.

Prepare good questions ahead of time

Once the conversation with the customer is set up, it’s important to prepare a very targeted set of questions to draw out the story in vivid detail. You can start with a template, but you really need to think about the story you’re hoping the customer tells and prepare the questions accordingly. Otherwise you may end up with a lot of uncomfortable pauses and not much information to build a success story.

While the details may vary, all great success stories consist of four basic elements: who the customer is, what their problem was, how the problem was solved, and the results. You then want to drill down to specifics of that instance within each of those sections, including why the customer chose your solution and how they liked working with your team.

You may not always be able to “stick to the script.” I’ve worked with customers who pretty much launched into the whole story after being asked what issue they were facing. But those are the exceptions.

Often you will have to draw the story out, especially if you’re talking to a technical person. They usually don’t think like marketers think; they’re more likely to recite facts. But a good set of questions can help them get beyond the black-and-white, ones-and-zeroes world they usually live in so they can add a little color to the story.

Must have results

This is another rookie mistake I see from time to time. Someone gets excited that a customer is willing to talk and wants to get him/her on the phone right away. Love the enthusiasm, but…

The credibility of a customer success story comes from results. Hard results in the form of numbers are best – money saved, hours saved, additional revenue captured, measurably improved health outcomes, etc. That’s the Holy Grail.

Unfortunately, not every customer has that information. Sometimes they failed to document the starting point, which makes it hard to measure the difference the solution made; they just know it’s better. Sometimes there is nothing to measure, or there isn’t an expedient way to measure it.

Soft results can work when no hard results are available, but those results must be something with which other organizations can identify. Employee happiness/reduction in burnout, noticeably reduced noise levels, greater collaboration between clinicians, more time to spend on patients, and other factors can be powerful statements – if that’s what your target audience wants to achieve in their own organizations.

If there are no results to report, it’s best to hold off until there are. After all, what’s the point of a customer success story if there’s no successes to report yet?

Find the human element

Some organizations really like to focus on the facts and figures of their customer success stories. They are important, but they are not the story.

The human element is the story – how what you did impacted whoever you were trying to impact. Until our robot overlords take over, the decisions are being made by people. People like stories that make them feel good.

This is true even when your audience is made up of clinicians or IT people. Yes, they are analytical, and they like their facts and figures. But they are not Vulcans making all decisions solely based on logic. If they were, luxury automobile companies and sellers of other big ticket consumer products would have more statistical information and fewer shots of attractive people doing cool things in their ads and commercials.

If they relate to your story on a human level, they are more likely to get excited and view you favorably. All else being relatively equal, they will lean toward the solution they feel best about – even if they’re not quite sure why.

Give it a great graphic treatment

Great graphics can make even a mediocre story more interesting as well as making a great story stand out.

Break up the type with pictures, or diagrams, or screen shots, or some other visual element. If you have facts and figures to highlight, make little infographic-style illustrations out of some of them. If you’re posting a written case study online, see if you can add a GIF or other video element to it, such as demonstrating the product at work.

The more attractive your final form is, the more it will draw the reader in. And the easier your success story is to read, the more likely it is the people who matter to you will read it.

Realize the full value

Customer success stories are one of the most valuable marketing tools your organization can possess. Frequently, they’re also one of the most difficult to obtain, which is why you should treat each one like it’s gold.

Put in the time and effort to dig beyond the basic elements and you will be able to create compelling stories that yield huge dividends for the entire organization.

 

Facts Tell But Stories Sell

“Story telling is the oldest form of teaching,” Matt Cavallo declared when we met on May 23. I couldn’t agree more. Great story telling has always intrigued me. Maybe that’s why I’m in PR. I have always believed that behind every organization is a zealous individual with an epic story waiting to be shared. It’s usually the CEO or founder, though not always.

Matt is a passionate patient advocate who dedicates his life to the fight against multiple sclerosis. He has been named among the top 10 Social HealthMakers by WCG and his blog was selected as one of Healthline’s top multiple sclerosis picks in 2015. His story of being diagnosed and overcoming the physical and emotional challenges associated with having a chronic disease can be read in his memoir, The Dog Story: A Journey into a New Life with Multiple Sclerosis.

What started as a simple half-hour meet-and-greet with Amendola Communications agency staff turned into a 90-minute conversation. Who has that kind of time, you ask? Well, Matt knew how to keep our attention: he had us laughing one moment and fighting back tears the next. It’s a skill few people have but many aspire to. This ability to connect comes in really handy during media interviews at large trade shows (such as HIMSS) where our PR clients (health IT vendors) get to pitch their product or solution to editors who decide on the spot whether they care enough to write about them…or not.

GetWellNetwork® founder and CEO Michael O’Neil was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 28. While the medical outcome was excellent, the patient experience was challenging. After four cycles of chemotherapy, he started GetWellNetwork to help hospitals improve performance and outcomes through patient engagement. Michael and his team work tirelessly to ensure the voice of the patient is heard. Today, more than 4.6 million patients use GetWellNetwork technology to engage in their healthcare. Take a minute to watch Michael tell his story in this short video.

Growing up in a family of doctors, ClearDATA CEO Darin Brannan got a firsthand look at the challenges healthcare practitioners face in treating patients using paper and outdated technology. It made him painfully aware of the number of people who die each day as a result of medical errors long before it became national news.

Despite the availability of electronic health records and other technologies that were supposed to solve the problem, reports show that more than 1,000 people still die each day due to medical errors. At the center of this seeming disconnect is a lack of cohesiveness among advanced information technologies. Darin believes that, “Healthcare is less of a science problem, it’s more of an information problem.”

In 2011, he co-founded ClearDATA to apply his cloud computing expertise to healthcare in order to remove the technical obstacles inhibiting patient safety and costing lives. Today, ClearDATA is recognized by organizations such as CB Insights as a leading healthcare information security services company, with $54 million in funding and a customer portfolio that includes some of the largest healthcare providers in the nation.

Dave Bennett, EVP, Orion Health, is passionate about precision medicine. He often tells the story about his son, Carter, who has cystic fibrosis (CF). Here is how he tells it.

Carter’s story

About a decade ago, my oldest son, Carter, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Like most kids with CF, Carter had a host of physical problems, like lung infections due to mucous build-up and thrive issues due to pancreas blockage. In eighth grade his lungs needed a thorough cleaning, so he was hospitalized and homebound for three consecutive weeks with a PICC line.

Five years ago, Vertex Pharmaceuticals released a drug designed to address Carter’s specific genetic variation of CF, one that only four percent of patients have.

But when I told Carter’s doctor about it, he said it wouldn’t help Carter because he didn’t have that genetic variation.

Once I pressed the doctor to review 60 pages of Carter’s data, however, the doctor soon reversed his position.

“This is a game changer,” he said.

Now let’s be clear: Carter’s doctor is a great doctor. But he didn’t have the tools to help him analyze that 60 pages of data and connect my son to a promising new drug therapy that went on to stabilize his lung function, end his annual sinus surgeries, eliminate his regular bronchial scopes, made his ED visits a thing of the past, and allowed him to flourish into a six-foot-two-inch, 225-pound captain of his high-school football team. Today, Carter is a thriving college student, our payers don’t have to pay for all the procedures mentioned above anymore, and his mom and I don’t worry about him one bit.

That is the promise of precision medicine exemplified. But in the future, rather than rely on a highly interested advocate—like a parent who’s passionate about precision medicine—to provide that cognitive support, payers and providers will be able to rely on technology that synthesizes and analyzes the data (e.g., those 60 pages Carter’s doctor couldn’t effortlessly process) and utilize it in the right context at the right time.

“This is my mission,” Dave tells journalists. “I want to help doctors and patients in making decisions about what will help them. To do this work, you really need focus at the mission level, because it’s going to change healthcare for the better and make a difference in people’s lives.”