Culture, Comms, and Cocktails is internal comms served straight up, so settle in, drink in the knowledge. Some shaken, some stirred, and maybe even some with a twist, and enjoy the top shelf guest I have lined up for you. I’m your host, Chuck Gose, Strategic Advisor at SocialChorus. On this episode of Culture, Comms, and Cocktails, we have Bridget Therriault, Assistant Director of Corporate Affairs at Main Line Health.
Main Line Health (MLH) is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health is among the area’s leaders in medicine, providing advanced patient-centered care, education and research to help the community stay healthy.
With Bridget, we’ll chat about Main Line Health’s motivation behind investing in a new internal comms platform.
Of course, she’ll also reveal her favorite cocktail!
“SocialChorus has an average benchmark of 74% for 90-day retention of registered users, so people that continue to come back, and [Main Line Health] is at 92%. To me, that means people are seeing the type of content that they thought they would see, it is meaningful to them in their work, and they feel, to your very point, that it does connect them much more directly to the organization, in one way or another. ” —Bridget Therriault
We feature communications leaders every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Don’t miss an episode of Culture, Comms, & Cocktails, brought to you by SocialChorus. Subscribe now wherever you listen to podcasts (Apple, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.)
Culture, Comms, & Cocktails Episode #22 Transcript
Chuck Gose: Bridget, welcome to Culture, Comms, and Cocktails.
Bridget: Chuck, it is my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Chuck Gose: Well, grab a seat here at the Culture, Comms, and Cocktails lounge, and let’s get started. With a name like Therriault, Bridge, I’m curious. My last name is only four letters and it gets mispronounced. What is, maybe, your favorite pronunciation you’ve heard of Therriault? For those who are just listening along, it’s T-H-E-R-R-I-A-U-L-T.
Bridget: That is correct, yes. My husband is from Maine. So, my understanding is it’s French-Canadian, if you will. I get a lot of variations. Therriault, Therriault. Truly, I do not mind because I completely understand. As we do in communications, I just roll with it, I just accept the mispronunciation and keep on going.
Chuck Gose: Very good. Now, you’ve been at Main Line Health now for a large chunk of your career.
Bridget: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Chuck Gose: Any time I’ve seen a communications person stay at a company for a long time, first off, congratulations.
Chuck Gose: How have you seen the culture there change in your time at Main Line Health?
Bridget: Sure. I would say … First off, the healthcare industry in general is incredibly fast paced, it is ever changing. So, I think all of us that work in communications in the healthcare industry have just accepted that it is constantly evolving, and constantly changing. Probably, in some cases, more quickly than many other industries.
Bridget: I would say at Main Line Health, in particular, just as you indicated, I have been here for a while. That’s not uncommon. Often times, we have service awards across the organization at our different entities, so you’ll hear when you’re attending those different service awards that many in attendance have been at Main Line Health more than 15 years, 20 years, 30 years. Sometimes you’ll even have those who are celebrating 50 years with the organization. I think it just speaks very highly of the type of culture that really has evolved here over the years, and the fact that people want to stay.
Bridget: It’s an organization that’s very much focused on the people that work here, making sure that everyone understands how valued they are. That’s certainly why I am still here, 13 years later.
Bridget: I would say, in terms of, organizationally, how have we evolved? When I started at Main Line Health, I think we were much more of a hospital-centric model. We have four acute care hospitals: Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr, Paoli Hospital, Riddle Hospital. We have a physical rehab facility, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, we have a drug and alcohol treatment facility, Mirmont Treatment Center, we have the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, which we call LIMR, which is where a lot of really amazing clinical research takes places, and evolves to the bedside over time. Then, we have many physician practices across our region.
Bridget: A very large complex health system, and I would say, over the course of 13 years … This is certainly a model, in general that’s happening in healthcare, but we’ve gone from being more hospital-centric focused, I would say, to being much more focused on systems, and the idea that each of these individual entities have very distinct characteristics. Together, as a system, we’re so much stronger. By activating and connecting these different strengths across the entire organization, we can really serve our communities in an even more powerful way. That’s really important to us, the system. We talk often about being STEEEP.
Bridget: STEEEP is a term used in healthcare. It means Safe, Timely Efficient, Effective, Equitable, and Patient centered. So, really working together as a system, very holistically, and thinking about the patient journey from the moment they enter our doors, all the way through their care journey, as STEEEP as we can be through that process, the better. We can do that best working together.
Chuck Gose: Now, earlier on you did a great job of talking about, truly, amongst a lot of healthcare, how complex everything is. For people who aren’t familiar with Main Line Health, you guys are in the Philadelphia area. Talk about the size of the organization, as well as the Comms team that’s supporting the organization?
Bridget: Sure. Main Line Health, we have more than, well over 10,000 employees, 2500 medical staff members, so physicians, and really cover a large footprint outside of Philadelphia. I would say, for the size and scope of our organization, and the complexity of it, we have a relatively small Communications team. Small, but mighty, I would say for sure, it’s a powerhouse of a group. The Communications team [inaudible] sits within a larger group, which is our Creative Services team. That constitutes our Digital Experience group, and our Corporate Design team. Together, we really are able to work in a very integrative fashion, to come up with creative solutions to meet many of our communications challenges.
Bridget: I would say, with the Comms team in particular, because it is such a close-knit group … There are four, in addition to myself, that handle communications. Stephanie, who is our Manager of Internal Communications, Mary Kate handles our Media Relations, and also we handle Legislative Affairs, Megan, who oversees our social media efforts, and we just welcomed a new team member, Samantha. She is really supporting all the different areas.
Bridget: I would say the key to all of that is that we work in a very synchronized effort, and, really, our philosophy is, “Create one, publish everywhere.” Every piece of content that we have, we really try to make sure we’re optimizing it for all of our different channels across Main Line Health. Internal channels, social media, MainLineHealth.org, we really want to make sure that we are leveraging all the amazing content we have, in as many ways as possible.
Chuck Gose: Throughout 2019, I got to spend time with you and the team, and I agree, very small, much very mighty. Part of me spending time with you is the company launched MLH To Go, back in early 2019.
Bridget: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chuck Gose: What was the primary motivation behind investing in a new internal comms platform?
Bridget: I would say, the initial motivation for it was that we know we wanted to redesign our internal communications. Really, it started out with knowing our current Intranet is antiquated. We’ve talked about it, it’s been here at Main Line Health for more than 13 years, it is the same Intranet that has been here since I arrived, has barely changed at all. It’s built on Red Dot, which is not even a supported application any longer. It’s also, I almost call it like a jungle. No one really owns the Intranet currently, a lot of different people contribute to it, but there’s not a governance model. Over time, the organization has made a lot of significant investments in technology, of course, but most often it’s patient facing, of course.
Bridget: The time came when the leadership really 100% agreed that this was an important initiative, so we really started down the journey of, what does not only redesigning our Intranet, but really redesigning our internal communications, and transforming way that we’re engaging with employees, what does that look like? As we started to do some research, we knew that we definitely wanted something that was mobilely accessible for our employees. Along the way, came in contact with SocialChorus. Certainly, there’re competitors to the SocialChorus platform out there, but far and away, we just really fell in love with the SocialChorus platform. The SocialChorus team has met all of our expectations and exceeded them, really. It’s been a fantastic journey.
Bridget: I would say, a lot of the impetus to move down that mobilely accessible road was that we wanted to, number one, connect with our employees where they are, right? A large chunk of our employee base are caring for patients, at the bedside. We wanted to make sure that we’re able to reach them, as they’re on the patient floors, when they’re on break, whatever, they have their phones with them. How do we reach them, in those moments, when they have a few minutes to check it, when they’re not sitting at a computer all day? That was one.
Bridget: The second was just really this idea of, in general, we know that people want to feel empowered to share their stories, that’s really what social media is all about. That’s, now, really how people are staying connected in general, so wanted to have a similar type of model that we can leverage at Main Line Health, so our employees feel that they can share their story, that they can contribute to the narrative at Main Line Health. It really fed into this idea of “Be Seen,” which I talked about as part of our brand campaign. That’s really also how we feel about our employees.
Bridget: Our leadership team has spent a lot of time, working to make sure we have a culture that’s very much focused on diversity, respect, and inclusion, and making sure that every employee feels they have a voice. A platform like SocialChorus, which we call MLH To Go, is a perfect way to do that, to give every employee a tool to be able to have their voice heard, and really to talk about how they feel they bring value to Main Line Health, and same with their fellow colleagues. Really, that idea of teamwork, and comradery, and communication, and celebrating that every day. This was just one more way for us to ensure that we are creating a culture where all of our employees feel like they have a voice, that we celebrate them for their individuality, and MLH To Go has really allowed us to do that, really well.
Chuck Gose: Now, you mentioned leadership being very involved in making that determination, okay, we need to do something different. How have they been supportive or active since the launch of MLH To Go?
Bridget: Yeah. Our leadership team, our executive leadership in particular, has been very supportive of MLH To Go. Our CEO, Jack Lynch, he in particular has really embraced the platform, which I think is any communicator’s dream, to have a CEO who cares deeply about communications, which he does. Again, this speaks back to our organizational culture. I can imagine there’s probably hundreds of Jacks within our organization. When you walk around Main Line Health and you say the name Jack, “Jack said this,” or, “Jack asked this,” everyone knows that you’re talking about Jack Lynch, our CEO, just by his first name.
Bridget: We actually created a channel just for Jack, and it’s called Just Jack. He immediately was excited about this opportunity. He, himself, uses it. One has really become his signature move, that wherever he is around the health system, he will take selfies of himself and large groups of employees behind him. Whether he’s at a large meeting, or he’s presenting to a group of people, or even if he’s just walking around the campuses, visiting for one reason or another, he will often take selfies of himself with our colleagues across the system. I would say, by far and away, that is probably our most popular content. People love seeing Jack out there, it’s really authentic to who he is already.
Bridget: He was always very diligent about sending emails to all of Main Line Health on holidays, and certain milestones for the organization, celebrations. Any time people should be proud of something, or if there was just an important issue that he wanted to make sure people understood and were aware of, he always was very deliberate and diligent about communicating. This is just another channel for him to do that, and he’s been able to do it in a way that really, I think, highlights his personality. He’s brave enough to do it, there’s just … He’s not worried about, should I have one of the communicators look at the caption I wrote, or anything like that. He puts it out there, and I think that comes through, and really has people engaged with him even more because of it, because they know that it’s genuine, and he truly just wants to be connecting with our 10,000 plus employees and medical staff across the system.
Chuck Gose: You are right, that is very much a communicator’s dream, to have a CEO not just be that supportive, but that active and participatory in a platform. I remember, when I was onsite with you and the team, we as a group, came up with this Just Jack thought around it, that is a place for him to really showcase his passion and ideas. I imagine, when he shares that type of content, that really resonates with employees across the entire system?
Bridget: It absolutely does. It resonates, it gets tons of engagement from our employees. I think it also sets an incredible example that others then follow.
Bridget: Our executive leadership team in general are all very committed to communication. Over the course of time, they’ve also become more involved with MLH To Go. I think, even just all employees. When they see that the CEO is engaging with this tool, they recognize that it’s really important. So, throughout every level of the organization, we’ve had employees that have started to engage with it, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. Everybody has the same opportunity to contribute, and every piece of content that’s delivered, whether by the CEO or any one of us that’s not at that executive level, it still has the same level of reach, and it really gets similar types of engagement.
Bridget: We have other employees that post things of their unit holiday celebration, or we just had someone post a story about one of our colleagues, an OR staff member, who recently just became a citizen of the United States, so the team was celebrating that. Just really exciting and meaningful things that all of our colleagues across the system can post, and it’s meaningful, and people really appreciate seeing how all areas of the organization contribute to make Main Line Health the organization that it is.
Chuck Gose: Again, that’s another great scenario, where you have an engaged leadership team, you have employees who not only want to share, but sound very supported in sharing the things that matter most to them. I think, sometimes, that’s where companies tend to get hung up on. We want employees to share, but only about what we care about. How did you guys send the message to your employees to say, no, we want you to share what you care about?
Bridget: Well, again, I think it goes back to part of the core of who we are at Main Line Health. One of our core values is, actually, “Diversity, respect, and inclusion.” So, that is one of the foundational elements that really molds who you are as an organization. People feel like they can, as we talked about, insert their individual voice into the Main Line Health story. Not only is it something that they can do, it’s actually encouraged and celebrated.
Bridget: I think that when you have a leadership team that is committed to that, and promotes it, and celebrates it, it makes a huge difference. As you said, it really makes our job within the Communications team a lot easier, because people are willing to share. With MLH To Go in particular, there’s very little … At this point, it’s been about … I guess, we launched in the spring, I would say it’s been about five months. We have to do very little encouraging for people to actually engage with the platform at this point. It’s very proactive, on behalf of individuals across the organization. I would say, that is huge.
Bridget: I mean, the SocialChorus team, obviously, Chuck you were hugely helpful when you came and had the brainstorming sessions with us, and has been with us all throughout the way. [Sharmila 00:17:57], who is our Engagement Manager, has been fantastic. Bobby, of course, is the iconic sales person, and we just immediately … He really helped draw us into the SocialChorus platform, and we know that it was the path that we wanted to pursue.
Bridget: What I’ve often said to people, and I say this very altruistically, it’s true, when you buy the SocialChorus platform, you’re actually purchasing this larger, almost philosophical communications work group, essentially. You have connection to all these other individuals, communicators across the country, from all different industries, that are also using the platform, and that are willing to share their stories and communications challenges. Not only as it relates to SocialChorus, but just internal comms in general, and innovative things that we can all be thinking about to really make sure that we’re doing the best job at communicating and helping our organizations be successful. I think that’s huge.
Chuck Gose: Well, it was great working with you, and I’ll speak on behalf of Sharmila and Bobby on this, as well. What I don’t want to miss is the work that you and the team put into making MLH To Go what it is today. Speaking from a manager’s perspective, is a little bit of a feather in your cap, to think that now, what you and the team have helped create and launch there at Main Line Health, that hopefully is in place for years and decades to come, that you and the team there really built this for the organization?
Bridget: I would say, well, for sure it’s a feather in the cap for the entire team, and without Stephanie in particular, it would not have been possible. Also, too, all the leaders that we talked about, that have been really supportive.
Bridget: I mean, it’s always so … Often, in communications you don’t often have an opportunity to shape an actual … You’re often writing, you’re shaping different communications, you’re helping craft the voice of the organization, but to be able to actually create a platform that people use on a daily basis, to your point, it’s not a physical thing, but it’s a very tangible thing. That’s not something that we typically get an opportunity to do, I would say. In particular, as publications continue to go by the wayside, this is almost a new iteration of what that looks like, so its really exciting. We had so much fun doing it.
Bridget: I think the most satisfying thing has just been seeing it take off, and seeing that people really appreciate it, and that it’s really helped achieve what the original intent of the mission was, which was to really help to amplify the amazing culture that already exists here. It just does it in a way that’s very visible, and that’s meaningful to everyone. I would say that’s the most satisfying element of it all.
Chuck Gose: Obviously, now, being a part of the organization, I also think about that nurse, that person that sits in accounting, somebody in that organization that now has a connecting back to the company that did not exist before.
Bridget: Absolutely, yes.
Chuck Gose: Whether it’s a visibility, and they’re seeing things and feel more connected, or it’s one of those people we talked about, where they now have a platform to share what matters most to them. I think the fact that when it’s a Comms team, and as a manager of a Comms team, you can build that type of system inside a company, that it is not a physical thing, it almost at times become a mental and emotional thing for employees, measuring the success of that is, honestly, really tough to do. It really comes down to that impact you’re making at that individual employee level, across the entire organization.
Bridget: I couldn’t agree more, that’s what we’ve been so excited about. I would say that, what also is encouraging to us is that, compared to the benchmark for other SocialChorus users across the country that are at this point in their journey, we are performing well above benchmarks.
Bridget: For instance, 90-day retention of registered users, so people that continue to come back, the average benchmark for SocialChorus is 74%, and we’re at 92%. That’s huge. To me, that means people are seeing the type of content that they thought they would see, it is meaningful to them in their work, and they feel, to your very point, that it does connect them much more directly to the organization, in one way or another. I think that’s huge.
Bridget: We’re also seeing people engage with the platform, in a way that’s exceeding benchmarks. Average benchmark is two minutes, and we’re at almost two minutes and 50 seconds. That, again, is really encouraging. Yeah, we’re really excited about it, and excited about what it means for our future. At this point, we have almost 3500 users. Again, four to five months in, there’s still a large chunk of the organization that we want to reach, but feel like, at this point in our journey, that’s actually a large portion of employees that are engaging with it, very regularly, and are very active on MLH To Go. We’re excited about that as well.
Chuck Gose: 92%, think about that number a little bit. There are companies that wish they had 92% retention, just period, among their employee base, let alone 92% retention inside one platform. I think that speaks to, again, the content, the engagement, the leadership, that empowerment of employees to participate, all of these things you guys built in. That’s amazing, so again, kudos to you and the team for that.
Bridget: Thank you, we appreciate that. I guess, what is almost, in the future, more exciting for us is that the MLH To Go will actually be a huge part of our Intranet launch. We talked about really what motivated us to go down the track for looking into SocialChorus, and eventually building and launching MLH To Go was this idea of really redesigning internal communications for the health system overall. A huge part of that is our employee Intranet.
Bridget: When we launch at the end of January, MLH To Go will be, actually, two of the major web parts, or news feeds, on the homepage of our Intranet. That’s really been a key element, and why it was really important for us to move forward with MLH To Go first. We wanted to slowly transition the organization into using the new platform, and also slowly transition them into this idea that we’re changing our internal communications in general. It was a way for us to ease into it, and I think based on the signs that we’re seeing so far, with the success of MLH To Go, we’re really hoping that the new Intranet will be equally successful.
Chuck Gose: Well, it really speaks to something you shared earlier, which is around, again, having that small but mighty Comms team, that you guys are publishing in one location, or worried about creating content there, and letting the system put it where it needs to go. You aren’t duplicating efforts out there, your focus on the message, the creation, and the curation, and letting the system then publish where you tell it to go, versus republishing in all these other spots.
Bridget: Absolutely. That’s the ultimate goal, is to get there. We are not quite there yet, mostly because we have not launched the new Intranet. Over the course of time, our hope is that we can really have just this one almost command center, where we’re really focusing our efforts on creating very meaningful content, and spending less time pushing it out through disparate channels.
Bridget: Yeah, that is our future dream, and I have no doubt we will get there, based on the success we’re seeing so far. Absolutely.
Chuck Gose: Well, I have no doubt you’ll get there, too, Bridget. The podcast is called Culture, Comms, and Cocktails. We’ve talked about culture and comms.
Chuck Gose: We will get to the cocktails part next, but I have a quick question between them. The dates for FutureComms 2020 were just announced, it’s April 29th and 30th, in New York City. You attended FutureComms in 2019. What would be your advice, Bridget, for someone whose thinking of attending, or maybe just heard about FutureComms? Based on your experience last year, and hopefully you’re attending in 2020, what would be your recommendations or advice for them?
Bridget: My recommendation would be, it is absolutely worth your while to attend. I hope, also, to attend FutureComms 2020. We had an amazing time last year.
Bridget: Number one, meeting a lot of other internal comms professionals, as I said, from across the country, that really were able to share helpful insights that, in many ways, contributed to our successful launch of MLH To Go.
Bridget: Then, you also have an opportunity to hear from these major brands, and realize that … It comes to mind, J. Crew, for instance, had a great presentation that they did, talking about how they relied on certain key contributors at their organization to help get their SocialChorus channel up and running, and how you really have these super users, essentially, that can help garner engagement, and have very creative ways to use the platform. I think that was helpful to us, as well. We’re starting to see that, I think, on MLH To Go.
Bridget: For instance, actually one of our team members on the larger Creative Services team, [Sharlynne 00:28:21], she’s part of our Digital Experience group, she started, every Monday … She’s very into mindfulness, so she started a post for Mindful Mondays. At the beginning of every week, she has a very short top on how to make sure that you’re mindful throughout the day. She’s probably been our first user that has a regularly posted piece, that people are really starting to look for. I think that’s exciting as well.
Bridget: Those types of ideas were ones that came about as part of things we heard at the last year’s FutureComms. I would absolutely recommend it.
Chuck Gose: One of the things that I took away is, it seems like with a lot of communications and events, they’re one of those misery loves company type environments that sometimes happen, where people like to complain about their challenges, and obstacles, and leadership, and people start to believe in this group think. At FutureComms, it’s more about what can we do? Let’s change the rules, let’s get out there and do all these things. Some of it’s just from the conversation, like you shared, but it’s also hearing from the companies, and the communicators at these companies. Even some C-suite people that presented last year, around how to make these changes, that it is possible, it is doable, then gave advice on how to do it.
Chuck Gose: I love the Mindful Monday, that’s a great takeaway, especially as companies look to do more. Look, self care, and mental health, and all of those things, I love that your employee took that as a takeaway, and that now the employee base at Main Line Health is responding to that. That’s really great to hear.
Bridget: Yes. She’s very diligent about it, and we’re very appreciative that she takes the time to do it.
Bridget: I would say, to your point, absolutely, the event was incredibly uplifting, inspiring, empowering. We heard a lot about how the future of SocialChorus will hopefully be able to offer us analytics. My dream would be that its internal analytics that we can use to demonstrate how internal communications is directly affecting major other initiatives for an organization.
Bridget: For instance, at Main Line Health, can we correlate how our internal communications efforts, over the course of time, are directly impacting employee engagement? How our internal communication efforts are directly impacting our safety efforts across the system, which is hugely important to Main Line Health. I think that is a huge benefit, that I know SocialChorus is hoping to be able to offer to the community. I certainly, for one, am really looking forward to that.
Chuck Gose: Well, I look forward to seeing you, in New York, next April. Again, we talked about culture, we talked about comms.
Chuck Gose: Now, let’s talk about cocktails. Bridget, what is your favorite cocktail, or cocktail recommendation?
Bridget: Okay. I love an extra dirty Martini. My sister-in-law actually introduced me to the idea of also adding a splash of Tabasco sauce.
Chuck Gose: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bridget: It is delicious, it is my new favorite. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Cass, for that one.
Chuck Gose: I have never heard of that little bit of Tabasco in a dirty Martini, and now I’m thinking, why am I just hearing it now, Bridget?
Bridget: It is delectable. It’s salty, it’s spicy, I think it’s truly the perfect drink. Check it out, Chuck!
Chuck Gose: I love it, I love it. I recently had an Old Fashioned, that was centered around a little Chai syrup in it, because it gave it this little bite to the end. I would imagine the Tabasco splash would do the same for a dirty Martini.
Bridget: It is, it’s delicious.
Chuck Gose: Well, Bridget, thanks again so much for being on Culture, Comms, and Cocktails. I’ll look forward to seeing you in April 2020, at FutureComms, and again, continued success at Main Line Health, with MLH To Go.
Bridget: Truly my pleasure, Chuck, thank you so much. I will talk to you soon.
Chuck Gose: If you enjoyed what you heard from this episode, and want to check out others, find Culture, Comms, and Cocktails on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen. When you do, hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes.
Chuck Gose: This has been Culture, Comms, and Cocktails, internal comms served straight up. Thanks for listening.