Moving Beyond Traditional Media

Kandace McLaughlin, for HealthLeaders Media , July 9, 2008

Click to view larger version.Children's Hospital in Omaha, NE, found itself in an unusual predicament. The facility had been in the market for a while and had good community brand awareness. Now what? Deciding to take advantage of a unique situation, Children's chose to move beyond basic, local, messaging for the first time in order to highlight specific patient stories in new ways.

"We were utilizing existing creative, we had been in the market for a fair amount of time and we needed something new," says Martin W. Beerman, vice president of marketing and community relations for Children's Hospital. To obtain "something new" Children's needed to move beyond its prior institutional focus to a message that was a little more personalized. "We decided to tell the stories of the [the children] that we have helped," says Beerman.

In order to meet its primary campaign objective, featuring its patient's stories, Children's looked to its agencies (Bendtsen & Company and Daake Design) for assistance. With a full team and a central concept in mind, the next step was to find the children to showcase and get their stories. "Children are funny, dramatic, heroic, and never boring," says Jeanette Bendtsen, president and creative director for Bendtsen & Company. "With the children featured, all of them, there was a natural heroism that kind of inspired us all."

Though traditional media options were used to ensure coverage of local outreach, Children's was ready to take a leap. "Being pediatric our prime audiences are younger women with children," says Beerman. "For that [target audience] the Web is the fabric of their lives and we knew that because of that Web very much had to be a part of this campaign." "Marty is a savvy marketer," says Bendtsen. "Internet advertising is the newest frontier in this market and it's growing exponentially. Marty was a leader in tying in the advertising and traditional media we do into the Web."

The Web portion of the campaign included banners and skyscraper ads, and a Web site redesign that incorporated the overall feel of the campaign into Children's Web site. According to Beerman, going forward with the Internet portion of the campaign wasn't the real challenge.

"The challenge has been in deciding where the right placement spots are to reach our target audience. We've tried placing banner ads on media outlets' sites, local TV station Web sites, and newspaper sites. So far the World Herald has had the most traction," says Beerman.

Due to the response thus far, and a sense that the public would like to know more, Children's has incorporated longer versions of each child's story on its Web site,, along with "outtake" photos from the photo shoot.

Kandace McLaughlin is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. Send her Campaign Spotlight ideas at If you are a marketer submitting a campaign on behalf of your facility or client, please ensure you have permission before doing so.

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