By Peter Do
[SHSMD17 Speaker Podcast Series] Our guest for this podcast is Jenise Celestin, Director of Community Relations at Swedish Covenant Hospital. Jenise talks with Healthcare Success Marketing Strategist Peter Do as a preview of the SHSMD 2017 presentation: From Hospital Employee to Brand Ambassador: Building Bridges in the Community and Enhancing Your Brand.
In today’s conversation, Jenise and Peter talk about leveraging engaged hospital employees as community relationship ambassadors. This upcoming SHSMD 2017 presentation reveals how to support organizational strategic goals and existing outreach efforts.
Today’s conversation will touch on how to form your steering committee and recruit ambassadors, inspire ambassador effectiveness and maximize increased access to schools, faith communities and other neighborhood groups. In addition, they will talk about:
- Activating peer-to-peer influence among your employees
- The value of volunteers engaged with the community
- Aligning the work of the hospital with community needs and interests
- Gathering a steering committee to organize the program
PETER DO: I’m pleased to welcome our guest, Director of Community Relations Jenise Celestin from Swedish Covenant Hospital. Thank you for joining us. Let’s begin with a little information about your presentation at SHSMD 2017.
JENISE CELESTIN: My topic at SHSMD will be how to leverage and engage hospital employees to become brand ambassadors. This is already underway in a lot of hospitals where employees are champions and talking about the facility, services and the great care that’s being delivered in the community. And this really takes it to the next level and addresses how to work with these employees and arm them with the key initiatives of the facility.
PETER: Tell our listeners about the ideal traits of an ambassador position.
JENISE: The community relations department at our hospital consists of three employees. And we found that our work was having an impact in the community. But when you can tap into individuals that outgoing and are already involved in their community, with the cultural center, with children’s activities, it allowed us to better connect with our community. This would be above and beyond what the three people in our department could do.
What we look for in our brand ambassadors is people who are already engaged with the community, people who are comfortable talking with friends, neighbors and colleagues about the work that’s happening here at the hospital. We’re looking for folks who are already volunteering and active in the community.
PETER: What does a typical day in the life of a hospital ambassador look like?
JENISE: The beauty of it is that our ambassadors are doing many things during the day. These are people who are employed at all levels of the organization. These include people from our senior leadership team; we have people from our laboratory; we have a number of nurses; we have folks from our emergency department and from our fitness facility. The ambassador program is intended to complement what individuals are already doing in their daily life.
PETER: Please tell us about changes that you’ve seen or successes that you’ve had since launching the program.
JENISE: A lot of our employee/ambassadors have fostered many connections between the hospital and the community that we could not have done on our own. We continue to grow the ambassador program and we are now thinking about the next big project that we can undertake through this group.
PETER: It probably has not all been easy to do. What are some of the challenges that you have encountered in creating this program?
JENISE: One difficulty for all of us is time…and the time required to properly setup something new like this. As a community hospital, we’re bound by constraints of time and limited resources. The beauty of this program is that the financial investment is minimal. Our ambassadors are already engaged with groups and activities in the community and there is very little expense that comes with that.
An important aspect that contributes to our success is that community involvement is part of the hospital’s strategic plan. This means top-down support and support throughout the organization for strengthening our bonds with the local community. This has made a significant impact in assuring the success of the program.
One other piece is that we also work with a steering committee to help guide the program. Our steering committee of about ten individuals worked to put the program together within a couple of months and to successfully launch the community effort.
PETER: Thank you for joining us today and I leave you this opportunity to add any final takeaway ideas for our audience.
JENISE: The take-home message is that you already have people in the organization who are probably unofficial ambassadors, and it was completely natural to get a program like this off the ground. Employees have found it to be rewarding, and we’ve received great feedback from it both inside the organization and outside. It’s been a wonderful experience with opportunities to grow it from this point forward.
For listeners who will be attending the SHSMD 2017 conference, this presentation will be at 9:15AM on Monday, September 25. Please join us there.