Mary Renouf

Mary Renouf on why social media innovation brought her to Providence St. Joseph Health

Mary Renouf launched the very first MySpace brand page. Yes, ever.

As a Senior Digital Communications Manager with Adidas, she partnered with MySpace to launch their first brand page to promote the World Cup. She helped launch social communities for Adidas originals, individual athlete pages, team pages, and sport pages. Mary then asked if she could start owning social at the global level and built the first global social strategy for the Adidas network.

A part of a lot of firsts, Mary got her start in social media with the Portland Trailblazers, the first NBA team to bring digital marketing in-house. It started with message boards, blogs, and fan engagement pages, then internal developers helped her create codes for email marketing tools.

Then, at Microsoft, she built the first global social strategy for Xbox.

They became one of the first brands to hit ten million fans on Facebook. On Twitter, Xbox was one of ten that the platform beta tested with to launch brand pages and hubs.

“I was having a great time pushing the envelope there,” Mary says. “Microsoft is one of those companies where you can say, ‘Hey, I really want to be on Instagram, even when no one has really heard of Instagram yet.' We were doing a lot of award-winning work there.”

That got the attention of T-Mobile, who recruited Mary for their first social lead.

As the Director of Social Media, she helped build her job description with T-Mobile's recruiting team. “It was probably one of the biggest pickups of my career,” she says, in part, because of T-Mobile's socially forward-thinking CEO, John Legere.

Mary says he supported her in something radical at the time: social-only campaigns — taking money from traditional advertising and putting it into social media. She also helped set up John's presence on Twitter, the beginning for a CEO who would top all kinds of lists for social-savvy executives.

“We truly reinvested and went heavy into social media,” says Mary.

“I really wanted to do something where I was giving back.”

In the end, it was Providence St. Joseph Health's mission to help the poor and vulnerable that pulled Mary over. In 2014, she was looking into joining social teams at major brands, but in comparison, the healthcare industry seemed far behind when it came to social. “I mean, so far behind,” Mary says. And that was attractive to her — the opportunity to build something new.

“Taking a role at Providence allowed me to take my skills and knowledge and apply them to be innovative for an entire industry, not just a single brand.”

Now she serves as the Senior Director Social and Influencer Strategy, overseeing social for the entire depth and breadth of their brands.

But making the decision to come to Providence was still a difficult one for Mary.

Right out of college she had gotten a job in online marketing at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. But children's healthcare was hard work and heart-wrenching, and that led her to leave the industry. What brought her back: Providence had just launched a $150-million venture capital fund.

The fund was meant to partner with startups and app developers — people who knew how to use technology to make healthcare a better experience for the patient. “I really loved that a longstanding, 150-year-old company, with a mission to help the poor and vulnerable, was going to donate a huge amount of money to make the world a better place using innovation.”

Today, she's innovating through Facebook Live and working with influencers.

The clinical team at Providence is so interested in participating in Facebook Live events that Mary's team has a waiting list.

Each week, she meets with Providence's editorial team, social leads, and external and internal communications to discuss what they'll feature on Facebook Live in the coming months. They pull content ideas from reports on the most common conditions in their clinics, stories about new doctors or clinic openings, and trending topics. Then, they find doctors willing to discuss those issues on Facebook Live or in a Google Chat.

On the influencer side, Mary's working with a musician who grew up with chemically dependent parents and a UFC fighter who lost a spouse to suicide. “We're excited to use relevant people, especially millennials, to talk about mental health and chemical dependency in a very authentic way that raises awareness and helps us spread the mission,” she says.


“Yes, the stories are heart-wrenching, but there's positivity to it.”

Mary says that even working in this industry every day, the stories are so impactful that some start crying in the middle of filming them. But she says it's important to find the stories that will make people stop scrolling and watch the video in their Facebook feed. “The benefit of telling these stories to someone who needs to hear them is so strong.”

“Sometimes we forget there are people involved. When you look at healthcare from a marketing perspective, it is literally a product. It's good for us to get that human connection again, and that's what social brings to it, real stories in real-time we can share with people.”

She says the work can be emotionally exhausting, but the human factor is what drives her and her team. “I come home drained because it taps into your emotions every day, but I come home feeling good about the work we've done.”

Mary's been a member of Health since 2016. Follow her on Twitter here.