Communications Coordinator for CHIME
Ann Arbor, Michigan
My name is Stephanie Fraser. I have been the Communications Coordinator for the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), a professional association dedicated to healthcare CIOs, since October of 2009.
As CHIME’s Communications Coordinator, I am responsible for supporting the internal and external communications efforts of the organization. I draft and edit press releases, write and distribute CHIME’s bi-monthly electronic newsletter, and compile and create copy for CHIME’s hard-copy monthly newsletter, the CIO Connection. I also layout and design the CHIME Foundation’s newsletter, the Premier Connection. I develop copy, write and edit text to be used for internal and external promotional pieces including sponsorship brochures, marketing emails, website content and other materials for distribution. I build and maintain media contact lists, track daily media hits, select, gather and organize media clips, and connect press with CHIME members for interview requests and story sources. I also maintain and manage CHIME’s Twitter account. In addition, I administer job-posting submissions, recruiter requests and resume uploads, as well as assist in running CHIME’s College Live webinars. I also serve as the organization’s photographer.
BACKGROUND, EXPERIENCE, AND HOW I GOT HIRED:
I graduated with a journalism degree from Michigan State University in 1999 with big dreams of becoming a local news anchor. I quickly learned that even with a reputable internship and polished audition tape I wasn’t starting anywhere but the bottom, which meant a minimum wage, midnight shift serving coffee and distributing mail in a newsroom far, far away. So I set my sights on print journalism and scored my very first job as a reporter for a local newspaper. It was an incredible experience and for three years I spent my days, nights and weekends reporting on everything from city budgets and bond proposals to new restaurant openings and high school proms. In search of more financial stability, I made the transition to marketing, working for a television research company. Four years later, due to client demand, I found my core responsibilities shift from writing and editing to numbers crunching. Good pay, coupled with great people, was enough to make me stay two more years, but I longed for the days of utilizing my creativity and working with the public. Then last fall I discovered an advertisement to work with CHIME, and jumped at the chance. I went through three interviews, one over the phone, and two in person. It was extremely nerve racking waiting to hear back, so I was thrilled when CHIME Vice President of Communications and Education Keith Fraidenburg offered me the position. I consider myself extremely fortunate – working in a thriving industry and an occupation I’m passionate about.
A DAY IN MY LIFE:
8:00 am – Equipped with a giant cup of coffee, my day begins going through emails and checking social media sites and blogs. Heading up CHIME’s twitter campaign allows me to interact with members, writers and various others in healthcare IT on breaking news, industry trends and government issues. Time to post my first “tweet.” This morning I highlight a news article in Healthcare Informatics on CIOs and their role in hospital construction planning, featuring four of our members.
8:30 am – Time for one of two CHIME meetings that take place throughout the week. This is a valuable opportunity for the entire CHIME staff to converge and discuss happenings throughout each department. This generally provides a lot of the content I use for the CHIME eNews, including advocacy updates, CIO Forum developments, membership surveys, upcoming webinars and scholarship deadlines.
10:30 am – Back in my office I begin to prepare copy for the e-newsletter that will go out Friday morning. It’s also time for another “tweet,” where I elect to promote a Webinar CHIME is hosting the following day on EHR/CPOE Implementation.
Noon – Thanks to media interest, I receive an email from an editor in search of healthcare CIOs to interview for a story. CHIME has an amazing pool of talented, passionate members who willing to share their expertise, so connecting them with journalists is one of my favorite parts of the job. I very much value the relationships I’ve built on both sides. As interested CIOs begin responding to my emails I forward their contact information back over to the editor; including their name, title, organization, email and phone number, as well as any special instructions. Most times I also include the email address of their secretary or assistant, which is helpful for scheduling purposes.
1:15 pm – Time for lunch, but not before I post another “tweet” in reference to a blog post on EMR adoption by one of our members on healthcaresystemcio.com.
2:00 pm – Upon my return, I have a press release draft in my inbox from CHIME’s Sr. Director of Communications Fred Bazzoli that needs to be proofread and edited. Once the release has been approved, I post it to our website, send it to my list of media contacts and put it over the newswire. I also “tweet” the press release link on our Twitter page and post it on our LinkedIn account.
3:45 pm – I have a meeting with our Director of Marketing Melanie Hilliard to discuss public relations strategies. We also go over media and promotional ideas for CHIME’s certification program and our CHIME10 Fall CIO Forum. The event isn’t until October, but the planning process on all fronts is in full swing.
4:30 pm – I begin reading through trade pub magazines to collect items for the “Look Who’s Talking” section of the CIO Connection. This section showcases articles and publications where our members are featured and quoted. This a useful way for me to learn about the important issues in the industry as well read first hand about the amazing ways our members are making a difference in healthcare.
5:00 pm – Search the Internet for any press-picks ups on our press release and pdf articles I find and file them in our media library folder. I select one or two and post them in the “CHIME in the News” section of the website. A quick copy edit of a member-wide email to go out the following day, then its one last “tweet” on an HIE article from Healthcare IT News before calling it a day.
Working in this field, you must be a quality communicator-in print, in person, in email and on the phone. If you have exceptional written and verbal communication skills, can manage multiple tasks under deadline pressure, have exceptional organizational abilities, a strong work ethic and enjoy a constantly changing environment, then you’re probably a good fit for this line of work.
When it comes to educational training, the best place to start would be to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a communications-related field like journalism or public relations, combined with an internship.
It may also be helpful to identify a mentor, either a professor or supervisor early on in your career to go to for professional guidance. For me it was my editor. A mentor can be especially helpful during that first year on the job.
When you work in a communications-related field it’s important to realize that overtime is common, and work schedules can be irregular and are frequently interrupted. Schedules often have to be rearranged and deadlines moved up, so it’s important to be flexible and well organized to meet demands.
Realize that mistakes happen, but be careful not to repeat the same ones twice. The key is to learn from them and be honest and upfront when mistakes are made. Handling them in a professional and dignified manner shows maturity.
As you progress academically and professionally, building a portfolio is essential. Your portfolio represents a collection of your strongest work and should showcase a wide-range of your abilities and creative styles. When seeking potential job opportunities, your portfolio will be a display of your true talents. Be sure to create both a hard copy and online portfolio, and don’t forget to keep it current.
And finally, be sure to recognize that staying on top of industry news and trends, whether you’ve just started a new position or been working in the same field for over 10 years, is a vital component to your success. Read the latest articles and blog posts and attend Webinars. Staying current and continually educating yourself is a valuable way to be an active team player and contributor.
Everyday I work at CHIME brings a new and exciting opportunity. I am surrounded by a staff and membership who are interesting, inspiring, and provide me something new to learn daily. Whether I’m writing web copy, editing a press release, assisting with a marketing brochure, laying out and designing a newsletter, setting up interviews or planning a press event, I’m doing it with a smile on my face because I love it!