OHSU: Marketing Efforts Transformation

Overall Objective of the Campaign

The Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) is comprised of  four main units of operation: Hospital, Medical School, Research, and Philanthropy. In each are countless smaller entities. For example, the Dental school is part of the Education unit; Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital Foundation is under the Philanthropy unit; the Knight Cancer Institute is under both research and healthcare unit.

Each unit, prior to OHSU’s engagement with Mambo Media, had its own small staff of frontline communicators and dedicated channels. For instance, the Knight Cancer Institute had its own Facebook and Twitter presences dedicated to its messaging and mandate.

As often happens in decentralized organizations the brand presence was splintered and often patients, influencers and donors were confused. They didn’t know which account to follow, often having to follow many accounts to get the complete brand story in social media.

After two years this diffusion was starting to take its toll on productivity in all four units. Silos were persistent and achievements in communicating unified brand messages and calls to action were inconsistent and often confusing to the end user.  Additionally, the organization was facing scaling challenges as new channels were popping up ad hoc with no formal policies or guidelines to follow.

OHSU enlisted Mambo Media to assist in the overall strategy of its public-facing social media efforts as well as analyze and recommend the optimal organizational structure in the given 4-unit environment. Mambo Media deployed its award-winning Social Media Methodology that has been specially crafted for large or complex institutions.

At the start of our engagement OHSU had identified:

  • 32 frontline communicators throughout the institution
  • More than 100 social media properties!
    • 43 Facebook pages
    • 46 Facebook groups
    • 11 Twitter accounts
    • 7 external facing blogs
    • 4 institutional blogs

What strategy did you use to complete the campaign?

The time-tested strategy we deployed to address OHSU’s marketing challenges included:

  1. Online Audit
  2. Consensus-building and Education via Formal Training
  3. Channel Analysis & Messaging Recommendations
  4. Campaign Planning and Deployment Training


Mambo Media customarily evaluates the online marketplace of its clients. For OHSU we examined:

  1. How/what staff, patients, donors, alumni, influencers and the press were mentioning of the OHSU brand and contributing to the brand story
  2. Competitive analysis of outbound messaging and online response; this was especially complex because the competitive set included national medical schools, medical research institutes, health care nonprofits and hospitals
  3. Issues of the moment such as healthcare reform, rural health care, scientific or health research breakthroughs, and the decline of general practitioners nationwide

The online audit distilled the marketing topics and challenges down for the institution and provided a guide to navigating these touchstones via online marketing initiatives.

Consensus-building and Education via Formal Training

Mambo Media sought to get each unit and their marketing staff on the same page by sharing best practices in social media marketing. We organized and facilitated custom training sessions on Key Performance Indicators and Measurement, Messaging organization, Social for Search, Influencer and Brand Advocate Engagement, and Handling Crisis in Social Media.

Most notable and unprecedented at OHSU, we invited a diverse cohort of employees from across all units and in many diverse departments. Participants included directors and managers from over 19 departments, such as Media Relations, University Marketing, Alumni Relations, Brand Marketing, OHSU Foundation (fundraisers), Web Strategies, Event Planning to name a few!

The combination of the topics and disparate audiences resulted in marketing changes throughout the entire institution. The trainings allowed for professional development, social media marketing education, and consensus building. By bringing together a large swath of employees and providing a venue for them to address their colleagues with questions, techniques and strategies, or even distinct challenges, Mambo succeeded in priming OHSU for effectively integrating social media into current and ongoing marketing activities.

Channel Analysis & Messaging Recommendations

Mambo Media performed an in-depth analysis of OHSU’s social properties. What emerged was a new method of organizing content across channel owners and the Strategic Communications unit, which oversees institutional messaging.

The Hub-and-Spoke Model denoted that Strategic Communications be the hub, and the four major lines of business – the Knight Cancer Institute, Healthcare or Hospital, all the individual schools, and the Doernbecher’s Children Hospital – are the spokes.

The role of the Hub is threefold; 1) They must provide clear direction on the OHSU marketing goals and strategies, 2) supply each channel owner with campaigns, content and messaging, 3) and lastly, systemize the distribution of social media marketing objectives so it shared in a standardized, predictable manner.

The sub-units, or spokes, are responsible for implementing the direction, maintaining the brand voice, and adapting the messaging for their niche audience.

In addition to the calibration of roles and responsibilities, Mambo Media encouraged the merging of several Facebook and Twitter properties. If an entity had a distinct name and logo in existence, they could continue to serve that niche audience’s needs with a dedicated channel. If, however, they were a smaller unit or initiative, with less than 50 followers or fans, pages and accounts were merged with the larger accounts. This consolidation is an ongoing, albeit delicate effort that each sector has begun to undertake.

This approach exposed two immediate and significant needs and the first was headcount. As most social media marketers know, community building and engagement isn’t cost intensive, but it is time intensive. Mambo Media advised leadership to add at least two more communicators with social media marketing experience for the approach to be effective.

The second need was that campaigns were not shared or implemented in a consistent, organized manner. Up to that point, integrated campaigns were not pre-planned and so largely reactionary. For instance, if big news regarding OHSU hit, each individual channel owner’s used his or her discretion to re-post. Some did and some did not, which meant if a patient or reporter were not following a specific account, they wouldn’t be exposed to the news or campaign!

Campaign planning

As mentioned above, our analysis and strategy revealed a systemic opportunity for OHSU to standardize their campaign planning and distribution.

Mambo Media provided the following process and tools for planning and dissemination:

  1. Editorial Calendar – all outbound messaging should be mapped by channel each quarter. Opportunities will always appear on social channels, but the calendar will serve as the backbone.
  2. Touchpoint Matrix – for each campaign, Mambo Media introduced a simple matrix that organized each channel – email, outdoor, PR, LinkedIn group, etc. – and how the target audience would encounter the campaign message. The matrix was offered as supplemental explanation to the spokes.
  3. Monthly Meetings – with all frontline communicators to review the upcoming social media efforts.
  4. Assembling a SWAT – SWAT in this case stands for Social Web Action Team! Each discrete campaign or project, amassed a cross-departmental core team who would steer the effort and be responsible for its execution.
  5. Clarifying and Sharing KPIs – Mambo Media created a template of common Key Performance Indicators to deploy per campaign. It ran the gamut from number of “shares” to Google rankings on keywords. Youngme Moon, Harvard Business School professor wrote, “The minute we choose to measure something, we are essentially choosing to aspire to it.” The KPI template allowed campaign creators to focus their goals and only choose KPIs that would substantiate their tests.
  6. Institute Post Mortems – After a campaign, Mambo Media advised Strategic Communications to host a Post Mortem that shared results, what worked during the coordinated campaign, and were improvements could be made. OHSU considered these sessions critical to their evolution, benchmarking and ultimately, investment in social media marketing.

What quantifiable results do you have?

Within six-months, OHSU adopted our strategy. For an institution with 14,000 employees we were astonished at how swiftly they enacted the changes. Specifically, OHSU:

  • Re-structured their frontline communicator’s role and responsibilities
  • Hired three more communicators with extensive social and online marketing experience
  • Launched four PR and Fundraising micro-campaigns that used social media to build buzz, engagement and brand reputation
  • Adeptly handled three challenging public relations crises through traditional and social channels
  • Developed a statewide mobile-centric brand campaign
  • Increased fans/followers five-fold, and now mobilize their brand advocates via social media marketing
  • Broke institutional records in acquiring donors through online donations
  • Implemented social media policies and best practices

Mambo Media has transformed the marketing efforts of Oregon’s only medical school, largest employer, biggest provider of rural health through eight remote clinics, and one of the nation’s most prestigious medical research intuitions.

The experience has been gratifying and serves as another testament to Mambo Media’s methodology by deep analysis of the market, thorough training and consensus-building, and effective organizational structure development. Key to this process was developing a comprehensive strategy and creating test-and-learn environment that nets results for benchmarking future efforts.

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Siouxsie Jennett
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