PRSSA Fall 2020 Field Trip

By: Jessica Gardner

I was fortunate to be able to go to the PRSSA’s fall 2020 virtual field trip. I am a freshman this year and it’s not an easy year to be a freshman at any college. Honestly, it’s just not an easy year for anybody. But one of the highlights of my freshman experience has been joining the PRSSA as they do a really good job consistently holding engaging virtual meetings so that all students can be an active part of their organization. This field trip was no exception.

The field trip was with an organization called W2O, a San Francisco based healthcare marketing and communications firm. In a way, the timing was perfect, I appreciated the opportunity to learn about a health-focused organization while our country faces a public health crisis. One thing that makes the W2O group stand out is their specialized approach rooted in analytics and insights in their various healthcare promotions. Meaning that they don’t just research the end results of how a product they are promoting did, they also conduct research during the process. This research-based approach really gives the W2O firm and any of their clients an advantage, especially in a scientific field like healthcare.

As a communication major, I also really enjoyed getting to know how I could apply my communications knowledge to a career in healthcare, or healthcare promotion. Another unique thing about the W2O company was their goal of having integrated aspects of communication such as social media, public relations, and advertising (to name a few) collaborate in order to create integrated marketing intelligence and solutions. It’s really special that so many different aspects of research and communication go into the W2O client’s healthcare promotions.

As stated earlier, I’m a freshman so I really don’t have a background in public relations and the business aspect of communications yet. With that being said, I still managed to take away a lot of interesting points about the world of Public Relations that I did not previously know. One thing I learned about was earned media stories, which are news stories that depend on finding the right reporters to pitch their stories at the right time through the right media channel in order to attract an audience. What makes earned media relations stand out is that it is authentic, credible, not controlled, not purchased, and not guaranteed. Basically, it focuses on the quality of the story not a financial relationship between client and reporter. I also learned about the three different types of earned media stories: hard news, soft news, and created news. In the healthcare promotion field, some examples of hard news would be a first-of-its-kind FDA approval or major company announcement whereas soft news would cover things like product launches or awareness days, created news is all about special events and partnerships. The W2O workers told us about their experiences with all three types of news and how each could be used to promote their client’s product.

Overall, I was so impressed with the W2O firm and learned a lot from the field trip yesterday. One thing that really stood out to me was how all of the people at W2O were passionate about their cause: integrated and research-based communication for a better future in healthcare. Every product launch or campaign launch that W2O does is to help people, whether through spreading awareness for AFib related strokes through (go check out that website to learn more) or through promoting a new FDA approved medication for sickle cell disease that would allow patients to receive treatment from home, which is especially important with the coronavirus. I respect both W2O’s values and their causes and I’m grateful that I got to have an in-depth meeting with professionals through my involvement with the PRSSA.

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