April 30, 2021
Earlier this month, FINN Health Practice members from around the globe gathered for the biennial Health Summit, an opportunity to both celebrate our accomplishments and re-center on the true purpose of the work done, day-in and day-out. In the constant drive of our busy workday, it can be hard to remember that health communicators share something unique in common with lightbulb salesmen: we make the world brighter.
It was this powerful idea of purpose that carried through the two-day Summit, reflecting how the practice’s work ladders up to the company’s larger purpose: to make a difference in the world. And although pandemic-life meant the proceedings were entirely virtual this year, that didn’t prevent both days’ agendas from being saturated in FINN’s seven core values:
WORK HARD. PLAY NICE.
The principles of working hard and playing nice were reflected in the energy felt throughout all four action-packed hours of the Summit. While some of the most talented and passionate individuals in the industry shared their case studies and experiences, the meeting’s chat rooms were filled to the brim with cheers and admiration for what was being shared. It was impossible to go more than five minutes without both hearing about amazing work and feeling unbridled support from the entire practice. That support comes not only from doing great work as a team, but also from making it a priority to develop a cordial community of coworkers that look to build up instead of taking down.
CREATE A BEST PLACE TO WORK
We create a best place to work when we understand that work isn’t the only place in our lives. Hope Buckner, an associate vice president from the Nashville office, shared her perspective on what it means to be humans who work together, rather than a group of workers. She noted how connecting with people at work – both clients and colleagues – on a personal level makes work that much more rewarding and successful.
The dozens of case studies shared during the Summit demonstrated account teams’ willingness to take calculated risks to help clients reach their goals – and go beyond them. Whether it was creating virtual advocate training sessions or crafting new approaches to media outreach, FINN teams found creative means to get clients’ messages out, meeting already challenging communications goals within the very challenging media climate of the pandemic.
There’s a reason that patient stories are the linchpin of healthcare media relations; few narratives are consistently as amazing as personal stories of perseverance. Lior Feigin, a senior account executive in the FINN Jerusalem office, shared her own story of experiencing communications as a patient, bringing many of us to tears. By mixing an incredible, personal story with actionable insights to guide the health team’s work – such as respecting the hopes of those receiving care, and ensuring campaigns are built around realistic data rather than hype – she created a truly special presentation.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
Who doesn’t graduate college setting out on their career path? Most want to have a job to make the world a better place, but in the reality of the workplace, not many get the opportunity. FINN is different.
Among the many inspiring stories colleagues shared, Joe Foster, a Portland-based partner, spoke about how traveling around the country for a campaign supporting pediatric cancer patients shaped his career path. Seeing the important work other account teams are doing while working hand-in-hand with patient communities or advancing potentially life changing therapies was enlightening and inspiring. The work that the practice does isn’t just to sell products or services; it’s to change the world in which they’re being offered.
How do you get hundreds of employees, across the globe, to work together seamlessly as a cohesive team? As millions have learned over Zoom during the past year, it’s difficult to simulate the value that in-person, face-to-face interactions provide in building chemistry between teammates. An event intended to encourage collaboration in particular can’t avoid the issue, and so Summit organizers incorporated touchpoints for people across all offices to connect in small, intimate groups – including colleagues with whom they’ve worked with, and those with whom they haven’t. These conversations, jump-started by light-hearted prompts, often took on a life of their own as teammates learned what they shared in common and who they could reach out to for future collaborations.
COMMIT TO DIVERSITY
A critical session during the Summit covered the important and necessary work required to improve diversity, in our own lives and sector-wide. Media specialists Ariane Lovell and Erich Sandoval, speaking from opposite coasts in New York City and Los Angeles, shared practical means for improving diversity in the workplace in all areas of the job. One suggestion was to hire new colleagues who are willing to work hard, though they may not fit a “traditional” mold. Another was to take steps to become cognizant of, and begin to eliminate, our own unconscious biases. As participants learned, the corporate leaders can say diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are priorities as much as they want, but it takes really instilling those values at the ground level – every day – in order for real change to actually stick.
One point many of us realized as the Summit progressed was, despite being apart, just how much we continue to rely on each other for support, both personally and in the course of creating amazing work for our clients. The things we share – values, goals and friendships – are alive and well, and have made us strong enough to grow throughout the pandemic and increased our ability to make a difference in the world.
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