Communication Strategies - P3 in Action

November-December 2006

Ms. Fricke is manager, public relations and marketing, Holy Family Memorial, Manitowoc, WI.

Why choose Catholic-sponsored health care? What makes us different? The answer is simple — our blend of quality, compassion, vision, and mission.

As a system communicator with Holy Family Memorial, my job is to make sure that people, both internally and externally, are receiving that message. But, more importantly, my job is to make sure that the message is delivered in a coordinated and unified fashion, in a way embraced by both the Catholic health care ministry and the general public.

When I first learned of the Catholic Health Association's (CHA) Public Perception Project (P3), I saw it as a great opportunity to enhance public perception about Holy Family Memorial and to strengthen public support for the excellent medical care we provide to our community.

I was not alone at Holy Family Memorial in seeing the potential of this project. My supervisor, Mary Maurer, vice president, organizational and business development, agreed that the research-based message themes of P3 — Quality, Compassion, Vision, Mission — were ideal for us. Not only could we incorporate the themes into our existing communications; we could use them in creating new communications as well.

Using the P3 Tool Kit
In October 2004, Maurer attended CHA's system communicators' conference in Chicago, during which she participated in P3's kickoff meeting and initial unveiling. Upon her return to Holy Family Memorial, she brought with her a wealth of materials, including the P3 Tool Kit. The kit provided a condensed version of years of CHA's valuable public perception research and offered helpful guidance about messages we could use to maintain a strong public perception of our system and facilities. That is what my job as manager of public relations and marketing is all about.

After reviewing the materials, I participated in a short, CHA-sponsored webcast in November 2004. The webcast was extremely helpful as an online tutorial and walk-through of P3.

One would assume that taking on this project was an additional workload for me and my staff. Quite the opposite was true. P3 actually made our job easier. The message platform was simple to use and understand. It made sense. As communicators for Catholic hospitals, we could now "sing off the same song sheet."

At Holy Family Memorial, we began to implement P3 as part of our 2005 Ongoing Network Marketing Plan, simply taking the examples provided to us in the project and incorporating the message themes of Quality, Compassion, Vision, and Mission into our existing communications and advertising — but adding our own personal stamp, making the communications and ads unique to our facilities, our culture, and our own market.

Educating Employees
I thought it was important to educate our internal employees, board members, physician staff, and volunteers on the value of the project and encourage them to incorporate the message platform in everything they did. We did so by including information about P3 in Holy Family Memorial's monthly newsletter, Insider.

Over the course of the year, we also included in the newsletter articles specifically designed to help our employees use the message platform in various ways, such as:

  • Giving employees examples of compassionate care
  • Highlighting the themes of Quality, Compassion, Vision, and Mission for our 2005 Health Care Week
  • Offering information about quality of care to our patients

Our team also worked the P3 message platform into Holy Family Memorial's annual report and into various other internal vehicles, such as bookmarks and the table tents used in our clinics and cafeterias.

By using the right messages in our external communications, we also helped community members better understand the value of the services we provide to them. As part of our advertising and image campaign, our team worked with our advertising agency to produce three print advertisements, three radio ads, and two television commercials. We already had the wording, themes, and sample ads from the P3 tool kit. All that was left to add was the Holy Family Memorial touch.

Producing Ads
The first print advertisement focused on the themes of Vision and Mission, highlighting such phrases as: "It's not just a waiting room. It's a crying, hoping, talking, listening and praying room." In this ad, we wanted to convey the fact that our network is devoted to healing and providing hope for people of all beliefs, traditions, and economic status.

Our second and third print ads reflected Holy Family Memorial's dedication to Compassionate and Quality care. They are titled "It Takes More Than a Stethoscope to Know How to Listen," and "Even the Most Sophisticated Technology Needs the Human Touch." The ads demonstrate how we combine advanced technology and innovative treatment with a compassionate tradition of caring for each person's body, mind, and spirit.

The radio and TV ads we produced encompassed every aspect of the P3 message platform and demonstrated for the people of Manitowoc our focus on medical excellence and our commitment to the community.

Again, we emphasized that our cutting edge technologies and procedures are supplemented with a good dose of compassion. The ads also stressed the importance of our vision of improving the health status of our community by creating health care that works for everyone; and our mission, which is creating an environment of healing and hope that reflects God's love. One of the ads' most important aspects is their focus on the fact that our patients receive high-quality care not only through advanced technology but also because our caregivers listen to families, give personal attention, and administer a whole-person approach to everyone, every step of the way.

Telling the Story
P3 gave me the building blocks to tell Holy Family Memorial's story in a way that public opinion research demonstrates will resonate with people. If we communicators take the P3 concepts and share them with our colleagues, patients and families, and our communities, there will be a collective result that will benefit the Catholic health care ministry for years to come. It has certainly benefited Holy Family Memorial.

Ms. Fricke has been employed by Holy Family Memorial for 27 years. She has been manager of public relations and marketing for the past seven years. Ms. Fricke holds a master's of science degree in organizational behavior and a bachelor's degree in business administration, both degrees from Silver Lake College, Manitowoc, WI.

Samples of some of the work mentioned here can be found at http://www.chausa.org/Mem/MainNav/Initiatives/PPP/. For copies of the TV or radio advertisements and scripts, contact Ms. Fricke at (920) 320-8614.

Copyright © 2006 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Communication Strategies - P3 in Action

Copyright © 2006 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.