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  • 07/14/2022 1:31 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Nick Hanson, MHSCN board president-elect

    Networking is important for various reasons. It's fun to grab coffee, a drink, lunch or hop on the phone and swap stories with others in the industry trenches.

    It can also be educational. It's beneficial to sharpen your skills at a conference, learn best practices from other professionals and organizations, and knock around ideas with peers in a virtual breakout session.

    But, what's the most rewarding aspect of networking? (In my mind, anyway...) Advancing your career. Getting your next gig. Taking the next steps in your professional journey.

    Since college, I have not received ONE job offer where I didn't know somebody working at my eventual place of employment, was given a great reference by someone in my network or had some sort of foot-in-the-door connection.

    Have I ever had to apply for a job? Yes. Write a cover letter? Of course. We're communicators. Apply through the company website? Yes. The difference is that my resume and cover letter rose to top-of-the-stack position after I applied, instead of getting lost in the mix.

    Two lessons to impart:

    1) Don't burn bridges. It can be tough, especially if you're unhappy. On occasion, it will happen. Remember, it's a small world. You never know when you're going to cross paths with a former coworker, professional or peer. If you do leave on bad terms, or get in a conflict with a colleague, mend the relationship. It's worth the time and effort.

    2) Network! Stay in touch with former colleagues. Go to conferences. Meet new people. Seek advice from those you respect and veterans in the field. Most important, join and participate in organizations such as MHSCN. We offer virtual and in-person opportunities to meet peers in healthcare communications and marketing. We have virtual and in-person educational events and conferences. And when you join, you instantly have access to a network of hundreds of people who work in healthcare communications and marketing.

    We hope you are having a great summer and enjoying the three months of summer Minnesota has to offer.

  • 07/12/2022 6:11 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    The MHSCN Awards of Excellence have returned for 2022! The awards honor exceptional efforts in health care strategic planning, marketing, public relations and communications from the past year. Award applications are accepted through Aug. 26, 2022.

    For more information on award categories and submission guidelines, visit our website.

    The entry fee is $50 for the first submission and $25 for each additional submission from the same individual/team.

    Awards will be presented at the MHSCN fall conference in October.


  • 07/12/2022 3:45 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Save the date! MHSCN is excited to once again host its annual in-person conference on Monday, Oct. 10, at the Hilton Rochester Mayo Clinic. It will be a time for attendees to convene, network and learn.

    The MHSCN Awards of Excellence will be presented at the fall conference. The awards honor exceptional efforts in health care strategic planning, marketing, public relations and communications from the past year. Award applications are accepted through Aug. 26, 2022. Learn more and apply.

    We look forward to coming together this fall. Watch for registration and other conference updates soon.

  • 07/11/2022 12:00 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Welcome to the newest member of the MHSCN board of directors!

    Meet Ginger Plumbo

    Ginger is a communications manager at Mayo Clinic, a top-ranked nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, with locations in Rochester, Minnesota; Jacksonville, Florida; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona. She leads communications and media relations efforts for Mayo Clinic’s transplant practice, and manages the team responsible for media relations in Minnesota. Her role also involves issues management and crisis communications], as well as documentary projects at Mayo Clinic.

    Ginger holds a Master of Arts in mass communications from North Dakota State University, with an emphasis on issues management and crisis communications, and a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of North Dakota. She has nearly 30 years of experience in communications and public relations, mostly for non-profit and healthcare organizations.

    Ginger lives in Rochester, Minnesota with her two school-aged daughters, Lexi the goldendoodle, and Sadie the yellow lab.

  • 06/23/2022 11:24 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    The Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network (MHSCN) seeks to provide networking and educational opportunities designed to improve the professional skills of those in health care strategic planning, marketing, public relations and communications. MHSCN is seeking speakers for its annual in-person conference to be held at Hilton Rochester Mayo Clinic on Monday, October 10, 2022.

    Speaker topics should be related to:

    • Content development
    • Monitoring/reputation management
    • Marketing/PR environment, post-COVID-19
    • Social media
    • Customer/patient experience
    • Diversity and equity in marketing
    • Relationship building
    • Communications
    • Marketing/PR/leadership mindsets
    • Marketing/PR/communications thinking and strategy

    Are you an expert in any of the above areas? Join us as part of the speaker line-up for the fall conference!

    Submit a proposal to Cory Docken, MHSCN president, by Monday, July 18. Be sure to include the following:

    • How we can reach you (phone number, email address)
    • Name, title, credentials and organization
    • Audience for which your presentation would be most suitable
    • Session type (keynote, panel, roundtable discussions)
    • Presentation title, brief description and at least three key takeaways
    • High-resolution professional headshot
    • Presentation length (maximum is 45 minutes)
    • AV equipment required for presentation
    • Resume or CV including past speaking engagements
    • One professional reference

    If selected, speakers will need to provide an outline and electronic version of any handouts and presentation to review at least 2 weeks prior to October 10, 2022.

    Speakers receive the following perks:

    • Free conference registration including meals and snacks during the conference session ($200 value)
    • Presentation published on social media and website
    • Valuable networking opportunities with peers and those in like industries

    Please note that lodging, transportation and meals (other than meals and snacks during the conference session) will not be provided by MHSCN. Discounted lodging options will be available.

    By submitting a proposal, you are agreeing to waive your right to be reimbursed by MHSCN for any speaker fees and for any speaker travel expenses that may be incurred. MHSCN does not guarantee any submitted proposal will be selected for the conference.

  • 03/15/2022 8:00 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Nick Hanson, MHSCN board president-elect

    Two years. It’s been a little more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. It goes far beyond vaccinations, public health safety measures, masking and seeing our loved ones suffer from COVID-19 – in the short term, long term and (sadly for some) losing friends and family.

    We’ve seen a fundamental change in how we work. Many would have never predicted that a large portion of the workforce would be able to function at a high level via Zoom, Teams, phone calls and texts – all while wearing sweatpants and a ballcap. For those of us in the healthcare communications and marketing world, we have been operating in crisis mode while hospitals filled with patients, work demands rose exponentially and we were forced to massage messaging that changed on a daily basis. While we’ve adapted to this new work style, that doesn’t mean all is right.

    If you’re a part of the Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network (MHSCN), you undoubtedly care – A LOT – about your career. Good for you, and we’re glad you are a part of this organization. But, we care about you and know that you can’t continue to operate like this.

    For now, gone are the days of water cooler talk, grace periods between meetings, walking down the hall to engage a colleague about a project or lunch and happy hours to truly get to know our coworkers on a personal level. Humans are social beings who are not meant to operate from home in isolation away from their peers (introverts, feel free to disagree, but even the interactions I’ve had with my introverted peers over nearly 20 years would not be possible via Zoom).

    So, where am I going with this? If you’re struggling at work or at home, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your personality type is or how successful you are. Sometimes okay is fine. Be kind to others. Take care of yourself, and if you aren’t able to get out of your funk, seek professional help.

    For most of my life, work has been a big definition of my character. That’s still true, but my perspective has changed. It’s more important to make it to your nieces' and nephews' basketball games and dance recitals than log a few more hours at work. It’s probably better to read your kids books at night or take a trip to the playground than answer a few extra emails. When you get a call or email at 9 p.m., it’s okay to ignore it and continue watching your favorite show. The “crisis” can wait until the morning. Let’s afford our colleagues that same grace.

    As we turn towards the endemic and begin to return to a new normal, let’s remember that when all is said and done, most of us are not remembered by our career. It’s who you are as a person. Yes, work is fulfilling, and many of us are energized by our careers. It's only one aspect of our lives.

    That said (a little hypocritically), we have a great lineup of virtual sessions, networking opportunities and an excellent in-person fall conference on the horizon. We appreciate you. More importantly, we hope you are giving yourself and your peers some grace during this evolving and difficult time.

  • 01/24/2022 8:14 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Kristen Spargo, MHSCN board member

    As healthcare communications professionals, we often plan our pitches around awareness months. So in that spirit, MHSCN is celebrating mentoring this January, as this month is (drum roll…) National Mentoring Month. The effort started in 2002, to promote opportunities to build connections between young people and adults. Professionally, mentorship is invaluable, particularly as you start your career.

    My first boss Charri Boykin-East taught me the importance of having different skill sets on a team. I remember sitting in her office overwhelmed by my inability to calm the chaos of my scattered desk — and brain. My colleague Jesse was an unflappable paper processor. To reassure me of my self-worth, she said: “Spargo, if we had a team full of Jesses, we’d never have a creative idea — and if we had a team full of Spargos, we’d never make a deadline.”

    In the 27 years (gulp) since that first “professional” role, I’ve had countless mentors — and been a mentor to others. But as a consultant, I’ve had to seek out opportunities to pay-it-forward from a mentoring perspective; my dog is uninterested in my acquired wisdom.

    An opportunity came in early June 2020, as protests erupted around the murder of George Floyd. Just as I was acknowledging — and seeking to correct — the lack of diversity in my communications network, I saw a post by Clayton Bradbury, a young Black Metro State recent graduate giving some “tough love” to the PR industry for being “depressingly and overwhelmingly white.” I reached out to Clayton and his friend and Metro State classmate Tiffany Tolliver, who had commented on his post.

    Clayton wanted to pursue freelancing and consulting. So I shared sample proposals, offered client advice and brought him into a project. Tiffany was pursuing a full-time job, so I forwarded job leads, introduced her to contacts, reviewed her resume, and did a mock interview. She updated me on jobs she was applying to, and if I knew people at the company, I connected her to them.

    Tiffany impressed me with her optimism and perseverance in her job search. I admit I was frustrated: organizations across the Twin Cities were declaring a commitment to diversifying their workforce, and here was an exceptional candidate, who just needed that first job after completing her degree as a nontraditional student. She eventually landed a role this past summer at RBC Wealth Management-US and gained experience as a Corporate Communications intern. In December, she started a full-time position with HealthPartners, joining our ranks as a health care communications professional. (Welcome to the field, Tiffany!)

    To celebrate Tiffany’s new job and provide continued access to professional development and networking opportunities, I’m giving her a membership to MHSCN. If you have a mentee, I encourage you to do the same. In the coming months, we’re building the functionality to purchase a membership for someone else on the MHSCN website. In the meantime, you can contact president Cory Docken.

    Now that Tiffany has found a job, she is sharing her hard-earned job-seeking wisdom with others. She always emphasizes the importance of networking and keeping those connections strong. Her new boss Catherine Scott started her career on my team at Padilla 15 years ago.

  • 01/20/2022 12:00 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    by Cory Docken, MHSCN board president

    Hello and welcome to the New Year with MHSCN.

    I am honored to be this year's MHSCN president, as this group has been an integral part of my healthcare career. Since 2018, I've been involved as a member, sponsor and board member. My participation in MHSCN has added value to my full-time role as vice president of digital strategy at O8, a Minneapolis-based digital marketing agency.

    There's no doubt that the past two years have been unprecedented — and at times unbearable. Being involved with the MHSCN board, as well as serving healthcare clients, has given me an up close view of what healthcare marketers and communicators have faced. I want to give a huge shout-out to all of you, particularly those of you who work in clinics, hospitals, and health systems for everything you did — and keep doing — to help your organization push through these challenging times.

    Now more than ever we want MHSCN to provide value. We have a committed and energetic board that's working hard to make 2022 a banner year for MHSCN. An area of focus this year will be to continue to boost the value of our membership, whether through education programming or networking with peers. So, please share your feedback in our periodic surveys. Our board wants to understand how best we can support and serve our members. Your feedback will inform our planning for events in 2022, as well as other programs like our annual awards. On the sponsorship side, our president-elect and I are developing packages that will enable you to connect with members and raise awareness of your products and services.

    As we transition to a new year, I want to thank past-president Emily Lowther for her leadership in 2021, and welcome our newest board members: Aimee Jordan, Jenna Sheldon, Madeline Riggs and Kristen Spargo. We appreciate their commitment to this organization.

    I invite you to contact me at cory@o8.agency to discuss potential sponsorship opportunities, any programmatic or event ideas or just to say hello. I look forward to seeing you at our events this year!

  • 01/03/2022 11:36 AM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Each year, MHSCN publishes an annual report to provide a snapshot of our activities and accomplishments. Our 2021 annual report is now available on our website.

    MHSCN pivoted to offering virtual education and networking events in 2021, to meet members’ needs for education and connection. In October, the COVID-19 situation in Minnesota allowed us to host our first in-person conference in nearly two years, which incorporated stringent safety measures.

    View the report for an overview of how we served members and guests in 2021.

  • 01/01/2022 1:34 PM | Emily Lowther (Administrator)

    Welcome to the newest member of the MHSCN board of directors!

    Meet Jenna Sheldon

    Jenna is an experienced communicator in a variety of sectors, including health care, nonprofits and higher education. Originally from Minnesota, Jenna has spent recent years working across the U.S., now returning home to fill her role as the director of communications at the Minnesota Hospital Association. She is excited to continue her passion of communications for the health care community and to be part of work in advancing the health of individuals and communities.

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