Einstein’s MedMo: Letting the Subject Matter Experts Lead

By David Flores and Paul Moniz

If you produce content in any form, you know how important it is to get it right. Readers and viewers are busy. They want something that advances their knowledge, prompts them to think—and perhaps entertains.

This is a case study about how the communications team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine used analytics, teamwork, and an unconventional approach to content creation to help us develop one of our most successful integrated campaigns to date, aimed at helping our nation’s future doctors. Our approach is customizable in any field as a way to harness creativity and develop innovative content.

The backstory: For months, every time we’ve posted content on medical education on one of our social media platforms, we’ve seen engagement—in the form of unique visits, comments, and shares—spike sharply. One post on our blog, Five Ways to Ace Medical School Exams, was an instant draw.

Consider: The average medical school applicant applies to about 15 schools. Why not help them out? We decided to devote all of our social media efforts to providing information and guidance to students navigating the sometimes confusing and difficult world of medical education, for the entire month of April.

To provide that information and guidance in an engaging, conversational format, we planned content on The Doctor’s Tablet, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google +, and LinkedIn to support an overarching initiative we called “MedMo” (short for “Medical Education Month”).

We made two key decisions early on. We saw an opportunity to reach beyond our typical audiences. First, we partnered directly with the subject-matter experts—our admissions and student affairs deans, and a clerkship director—as well as our students, to let them tell the story. We also decided that we would not “push” Einstein. MedMo would be a resource for anyone applying to or attending any U.S. medical school.

We held meetings with our deans and spoke at length with students to help us plan. We posed the following questions: What story isn’t being told? When are students having the toughest time?

Each week of the campaign focused on a different stage of the medical school experience, culminating in Match Day. A campaign landing page on our website anchored all the content.

We handed over the video camera to first- and second-year students, expanding our production process so they could conduct interviews and—in the case of the two student hosts—capture a starring role. Talk about creativity! Students gave us the lowdown on how they really relieve stress—complete with an on-camera dance, discussed their best study habits, shared patient interactions, and even revealed their affliction with temporary hypochondria.

It’s not easy to give up control of content. But seeing how faculty, students, and our content team came together for MedMo makes a strong argument for relaxing our grip on the reins.

MedMo was a success for Einstein. April saw our highest blog traffic to date; engagement soared across all social platforms. Our web landing page successfully moved traffic from content to our education initiatives. The video series was viewed thousands of times.

Perhaps the biggest measurement of success came from the heightened collaboration among our social media, multimedia, marketing, and media relations teams, and from shout-outs like these, which showed us just who our content was really helping:

Prospective student @amolutrankar: Thanks for the post; I’m getting ready to start applications & this is helpful advice!

The Associated Medical Schools of New York, @AMSNewYork: What a GREAT video! So helpful to anyone in med school! Bottom line: know you can do it & try not to stress!

A big thank you to the Associated Medical Schools of New York, the AAMC, the National Residency Matching Program and others for spreading the word about MedMo. We approached these organizations before launching MedMo and they shared our content with their social networks, amplifying our efforts.

Most important, this initiative demonstrated clearly how those closest to the content can fuel creativity, both among the subject matter experts themselves and on the editorial team. After MedMo, we are pumped and ready for the next “big thing.”

So how does what we’ve learned help you? Here are our main takeaways from MedMo.

Find a Cause

Having the conviction that your initiative will have a meaningful impact on your audience is a critical component of galvanizing your team. It is necessary to impart stamina when it’s a tough slog. Our “big idea” of helping future doctors supercharged our efforts.

Empower Subject Matter Experts

Find the people who really know the material and let them play a central role. Push the envelop for getting them involved. Think about it from the perspective of your audience: Whom are they going to trust more—those who live it or who those who just write about those who live it?

Empower Your Team

Big projects demand creative ideas. Solicit ideas from everyone. Encourage team members to take on roles they don’t normally assume. Cast the line way out there (in terms of ideas); you can always reel it in. Make sure everyone on the team has a stake in the project’s success. It will help your project lift off and soar.

paul-monizdavid-flores—Paul Moniz (L) and David Flores (R) are co-editors of Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s blog, The Doctor’s Tablet. Paul is the managing director of communications and marketing at Einstein. David is social medial manager. They can be reached at Paul.Moniz@einstein.yu.edu and David.Flores@einstein.yu.edu.