Leah Parker of Children’s National Health System discusses spotlighting hospital employees across social media in their #PeopleofChildrens series

It's a way to give a hug to everyone through our employees. It's a really nice touchpoint. Leah Parker
As the Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at Children's National Health System, Leah Parker is tasked with using social media to not only market the hospital, but to humanize it as well. And about a year ago, she got involved with a social campaign that did just that: #PeopleofChildrens.

The goal of the campaign was to spotlight all of the integral employees who make Children's a top-rated hospital.

In 2017, Children's National Health System received top honors in the US News & World Report Best Children's Hospitals ranking — they were named to the coveted Honor Roll and their neonatology program earned the #1 slot in that category.

“We wanted a way to continue telling the story of what it means to be a top hospital and why we are one,” Leah said. Her colleague at the time, Alexandra Justis, drew inspiration from the famous Humans of New York accounts for a new employee-spotlighting series across the hospital's social platforms.

“She thought it would be a great way to highlight some of the people you might not hear about that are crucial to making Children's a top hospital,” Leah said.

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“Every day is a gift, it’s not guaranteed and you should really be doing EVERYTHING with a purpose.” ———————————————————————— It’s been two weeks since our annual Race for Every Child and we’d like to introduce you to one of our rock star interns who helped make it all happen! Meet Stephanie Frazier, today’s #PeopleofChildrens feature and intern in our Special Events department with the Children’s National Foundation! _______________________________________________________ As a full-time intern during the summer and a part-time intern during the fall, Stephanie had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of communications as she helped behind the scenes preparing the public for race day. “I got to hear how Children’s made an impact on them and it really struck me to the core about how even the smallest things make a difference and how people come back to Children’s year after year to support.” ———————————————————————— Although she has not been a patient at Children’s, Stephanie was diagnosed with a rare condition during her freshman year of college and is being treated at the National Institute of Health @nihgov She is now a graduating senior from Virginia Commonwealth University @vcu and hopes to begin her public relations career working for a non-profit organization. ———————————————————————— Thank you Stephanie for all of your hard work making the 2018 Race for Every Child a huge success ❤️! #PeopleofChildrens #GROWUPSTRONGER #TGIF #HappyFriday

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The team spotlights employees across every department, using a simple selection and nomination process.

“Typically we reach out to division chiefs and heads of departments and ask them to nominate their all-star employees, parent/child combos, or anyone who's been here for years,” Leah said. This way, her team can identify the most interesting employee stories and those deserving of recognition who may not get it otherwise.

We've done about 27 so far. From environmental services, to the cafeteria, to endocrinology, to the emergency room. We like to feature everyone. Leah Parker
She added that their team will also walk the halls of the hospital looking for familiar faces or staff members interacting with patients and families. “You can tell which employees really connect with the patients because they're like magnets. They draw people in.”

The nomination process isn't rigorous — they try to feature every employee who is nominated, depending on scheduling.

“We've done about 27 so far. From environmental services, to the cafeteria, to endocrinology, to the emergency room. We like to feature everyone,” Leah said.

To reach their entire audience, Leah shares the series across all of the hospital's platforms.

“Some of the older people at Children's may have friends and family who are only on Facebook, and some of our younger employees may only be on Instagram,” she said. It's important to her that employees' friends and family can see the posts, no matter their which platform they're on.

This means the posts have to be optimized specifically for each platform. “They're a little shorter on Twitter, and we also link to Facebook from there. For Instagram, we load up on hashtags. And the Facebook posts are generally a little longer,” Leah said.

Leah also makes a point to share the best comments on a certain post with the featured employee. “Sometimes we'll get patients who reply with specific stories about the employee, so we share that with them in a recap with a direct link to any new comments,” she said.

The posts are formatted to highlight the individuals and their accomplishments rather than the hospital as a whole.

She shared that the format has evolved slightly since the series began. The original #PeopleofChildrens post led with a blurb about what the employee does at the hospital, followed by a quotation from them. After consulting with the PR team, Leah swapped those components and leads with the quotation, followed by a blurb about the employee's job — a change that has made the posts more personal and accessible.

The format makes it easy to highlight national awareness days and awards within the hospital — but in a more personal way. For example, the nurses at Children's win awards often, so creating content based on that can become repetitive. In some cases, Leah will include the award announcement within a #PeopleofChildrens post to take focus away from the hospital itself and put it on the nurse who was given the award.

“We're really trying to tell stories through their perspective,” Leah said. “These are the humans behind the jobs.”

The response to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive.

The #PeopleofChildrens posts stand out among all of the hospital's content — and tend to get some of the most engagement.

We're really trying to tell stories through their perspective. These are the humans behind the jobs. Leah Parker
“Instagram gives us quick insights on our business profile. Those insights have shown that any given #PeopleofChildrens post performs about 95% better than content previously posted,” Leah said.

Leah has also seen an uptick in engagement internally as well, with employees reaching out to her to nominate their coworkers.

“People really love the series. They love seeing their coworkers getting recognized.”

However, working on the #PeopleofChildrens series does pose some unavoidable challenges.

With a small team of just herself and one other person, Leah said lack of time and manpower tend to be the main obstacles she faces with the series.

They want to feature as many employees as possible, but with so many interesting people to speak to, it takes more time than anticipated.

“We meet these great people and end up having two-hour long conversations because it's just that good. Condensing that down into a social media post can be tough,” Leah said.

Leah hopes the series is helping to humanize the hospital and comfort patients and their families.

Instagram gives us quick insights on our business profile. Those insights have shown that any given #PeopleofChildrens post performs about 95% better than content previously posted. Leah Parker
“We always hear about our division chiefs, and heads of departments, and doctors and nurses. We just want to highlight everyone else, too,” Leah said. Doctors and nurses are included in the series, but Leah sees it as an opportunity to put a face to the lesser-known, essential staff members as well.

It's a way to create a more friendly environment within the hospital for patients and their families. “We want people to feel like they're coming here to see people, they're not just coming to get procedures,” she said. “We want to humanize the hospital. For some people, it might be a scary place. But these people want to be here. They love what they do, and we just want patients and families to know that.”

Leah wants the series to evoke emotion from their audience. “It's a way to give a hug to everyone through our employees. It's a really nice touchpoint,” she said.

If another hospital is interested in developing a similar employee spotlighting series, Leah said choosing a consistent style and theme is key.

She said it's also important to be open to evolution and feedback, but a consistent format helps differentiate the series from all other types of content.

And, Leah pointed out, what works for some types of hospitals may not work for others. “Pay attention to what will resonate with your organization,” she said.

Leah Parker has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.