Michael McCauley of Hackensack Meridian Health Talks Healthcare Marketing Trends and Leading with Trust

by | Mar 23, 2021 | Healthcare Industry Insights | 0 comments

As a leading marketing voice within the 17-hospital system, Michael McCauley is instrumental in shaping the organization’s brand and growth strategies. Find out how he helps guide his community and marketing team to better health.

Michael McCauley, VP of Marketing for Hackensack Meridian Health

In this con­ver­sa­tion for our health­care mar­ket­ing pod­cast, Hack­en­sack Merid­i­an Health VP of Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Michael McCauley talks about health­care mar­ket­ing trends, the system’s COVID vac­cine com­mu­ni­ca­tion plans and how he cul­ti­vates a fun work envi­ron­ment root­ed in trust among his team.

The response to the vaccine rollout has been surprising

When the vac­cine was start­ing to roll out, I thought demand was going to be out the door, that peo­ple would be lin­ing up for hours and miles to get it. As of today (Feb­ru­ary 18), we’ve vac­ci­nat­ed about 50% of our team mem­bers. I thought that would have been high­er. Our goal is to get [the num­bers] high­er but there are some indi­vid­u­als who are hes­i­tant because they’re not sure if it was devel­oped too quick­ly. While the num­bers are not as high as I thought they would be, I’m con­fi­dent that with fur­ther edu­ca­tion we’re going to get peo­ple on board to get the vaccine.

There’s no magic formula for effective vaccine communications

Con­sis­ten­cy and redun­dan­cy are key, we just keep push­ing the mes­sage with team mem­bers and our com­mu­ni­ty as well. We’re also work­ing with the diver­si­ty and inclu­sion team to reach diverse pop­u­la­tions and let them know it is safe and some­thing they should con­sid­er get­ting. Again, the goal is to keep reit­er­at­ing your mes­sage and, even­tu­al­ly, you’ll start to see the impact.

As healthcare marketers, we’re all in this together

The main thing I took from the SHSMD (Soci­ety for Health­care Strat­e­gy and Mar­ket Devel­op­ment) pan­el dis­cus­sion on health­care mar­ket­ing trends was the fact that we’re all fac­ing the same things, just a bit dif­fer­ent­ly in all of our regions. We can learn from each oth­er as we’re all expe­ri­enc­ing COVID-19-relat­ed fluc­tu­a­tions and decreas­es in vol­ume. It’s impor­tant to know that as health­care mar­keters that it’s a small world and we’re here for each other.

It makes a big difference when senior leadership understands the value of marketing

It’s nice to have a senior exec­u­tive team that is aware of the impact that mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions have on the orga­ni­za­tion. Our CEO Bob Gar­ret knows the pow­er of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and that when you invest in mar­ket­ing, it’s going to ben­e­fit the orga­ni­za­tion by dri­ving addi­tion­al vol­ume and increas­ing brand aware­ness. He’s always been very sup­port­ive. In fact, we increased our mar­ket­ing bud­get by about 4% between 2020 and 2021 for new ini­tia­tives to help dri­ve vol­ume and increase our brand aware­ness in the community.

Subject matter experts are instrumental in educating the community

What worked real­ly well for us is posi­tion­ing dif­fer­ent experts to talk about COVID-19 or the vac­cine who can relate to con­sumers or team mem­bers. The research we had shows con­sumers are going to trust the advice they get from their physi­cian. That drove our deci­sion to do a lot of pub­lic ser­vice announce­ments. For exam­ple, we’re record­ing seg­ments with our physi­cians and nurs­es and turn­ing those into edu­ca­tion­al radio and TV com­mer­cials. We’ll con­tin­ue mov­ing that strat­e­gy for­ward to dri­ve edu­ca­tion and awareness.

He’s focusing on the 4Rs in 2021

When I look ahead to this year, I’m focus­ing on:

  • Recovery—We’re doing a lot to help dri­ve vol­ume to our system.
  • Reassure—We’re let­ting our com­mu­ni­ty know that it is safe to come back in for care and that the vac­cine is safe.
  • Reimagine—We have to think about things dif­fer­ent­ly, the way we did things before may not be able to con­tin­ue. This could include the way we work and the poli­cies and pro­to­cols we have in place across the network.
  • Rest and relaxation—We have to take care of our­selves, men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. We have to take time off. That’s a les­son learned through­out COVID: Dur­ing the first surge, we all worked a crazy amount of hours to sup­port our front-line care team, roll up our sleeves and help out. We learned in the sec­ond surge that every­one was tired, so we have to think about how to take breaks and start pro­mot­ing men­tal health and well­ness resources to our team members.

Leaders should create an environment where work is fun

My mes­sage to the team is, “Work should always be fun.” Work becomes fun when you cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that sup­ports that idea, when you have a trust­ing rela­tion­ship with your team, when you’re open, car­ing and trans­par­ent with them. Once you have those ingre­di­ents: I firm­ly believe then comes the fun, because every­one trusts each oth­er, they know what’s going on and they know you care for them.

Listen to the full interview!

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