Skill Sets for Hire

Raritan Bay Medical Center needed digital marketing skills, and found them in an outsourced arrangement

Social media is significantly changing how people want to receive information, says Lynette King-Davis, vice president, marketing and business development, Raritan Bay Medical Center, Perth Amboy, N.J. At the same time, healthcare providers’ need to engage their communities and clinical staff is paramount. Combining these two factors requires staff with a specific skill set. That’s why, in 2008, Raritan Bay signed an agreement with Montclair, N.J.-based Verasoni Worldwide for web hosting, design and digital strategy. The relationship between the two has grown ever since.

“I certainly know of other hospitals that outsource marketing functions, and I certainly have always had an ad agency of record for creative strategy – advertising – and media buying,” says King-Davis. Her staff is small, and her department has always relied on freelancers to help with larger projects.

“I looked at other vendors, and still continue to see what others offer, but I chose Verasoni because of their responsiveness to my needs, their enthusiasm about incorporating new and emerging web products to meet my goals, and their focus on developing and implementing strategies with measurable results.” Raritan Bay’s contract with the vendor is “clear and specific on the goals and deliverables,” she adds.

Twelve-month plan
The agreement began with a thorough planning session, where Raritan Bay and Verasoni established a 12-month marketing communications plan, with a budget attached to each strategy, says Verasoni CEO Abe Kasbo. “We work in concert with Raritan Bay Medical Center to ensure that the hospital’s marketing communications, which are married to the hospital’s strategic plans, are met, and we establish monthly benchmarks for deliverables and cost savings related to media buying or securing related services that we can negotiate on behalf of the hospital,” he continues.

“However, it’s important to note that the relationship is very fluid, because as you can imagine, there are unforeseen situations that come up, such as reputation management or crisis communications, which need immediate attention, or a new service line comes on board.”

“I have a very small staff, focused on day-to-day issues,” says King-Davis. “Planning for and implementing a highly engaging internal and external digital communications strategy would not have been possible without the help of an external vendor.” Verasoni has saved Raritan Bay Medical Center 15 percent on its cable media buy and 30 percent on web services, she says. And the vendor has orchestrated some unique public relations events, including a flash mob to drive awareness for cardiac health, as well as the “tweeting” of a surgical procedure.

At press time, Verasoni and Raritan Bay were putting together a program to complement the medical center’s physician outreach efforts. “We’re developing a program that will bring professional and educational resources to them and their staffs, such as legal advice, claims and billing training, marketing resources for their practices, etc., in order to help them grow in this new and fast evolving healthcare market,” says King-Davis.

“Verasoni is a small agency, and as with any small agency, you worry about the amount of resources available to you,” she says. “Having a contract that is clear and specific on the goals and deliverables helped ease any misgivings about this.”