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Let’s start at the beginning…

By Marie K. Fitzpatrick, ABC

Here’s a refreshing statement from an unlikely source. According to a Canadian medical sciences society, “this is only the beginning.” It’s all part of a recent innovative marketing and communications strategy that delivers “hands-on” learning at the click of a mouse. Got a lab test? We’ve got a follow-up story for that. Want to know how you might be diagnosed? We’ve got a follow-up story for that. This customer-friendly website gives you the power of information at your fingertips.

And that’s why this cool and interactive website recently won an International Association of Business Communicators’ (IABC) Gold Quill Merit Award. The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), located in Hamilton, Ontario, is the national certifying body and professional association for medical laboratory professionals and took home the international honours.

Raising Awareness during National Medical Laboratory Week

How did this communications opportunity come about? Every year, CSMLS sponsors the “National Medical Laboratory Week.” This week is hosted to raise awareness about the important work in the laboratory (lab) as part of ongoing patient care.

The marketing and communications team set out to educate the public on the science happening “behind the scenes” in the laboratory. The business objective was to provide the public with a better understanding of how the lab is closely connected to their health care.

“We created a website, medlabprofessionals.ca, as a hub of information throughout the Lab Week campaign,” says Michael Grant, Director of Marketing and Communications.

“The messaging and images on the site were designed to tie together the patient experience with their lab work.”

Anatomy Graphic makes it Real

“Most people are only familiar with the lab from the standpoint of giving a sample to be tested,” says Cathy Bouwers, Project Lead and IABC Golden Horseshoe member.  “To change this, we used images of empty sample containers with the line “This is only beginning” on the webpage to help reinforce the message that lab testing goes well beyond giving a sample.”

The website featured an interactive component showing how lab tests are performed on different parts of the body. This was done to help remove the stigma that the lab only deals with blood tests.

Click. See the Test. Understand the How…

By clicking on different buttons on the body, the website user learns about a test and possible diagnosis done on that body part/area. For example, fluid samples taken from the lungs are shown stained under a microscope to depict abnormalities in the cells and how a lab professional detects them.

The website also included information about the different lab professions and specialty areas to help highlight the complexity and education involved in this life services industry.

Have a look yourself!  To view the website, go to http://download.csmls.org/medlabprofessionals/.

Marie K. Fitzpatrick, ABC

Marie is an award-winning, accredited business communicator with 25+ years of experience implementing strategic communications. She holds Bachelor of Arts from Ryerson University in Journalism, a certificate in Public Relations and an executive education certificate in Risk and Crisis Communications from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business. Marie is an avid community builder with more than two decades of volunteering on numerous boards.

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My first IABC event…and why I’m coming back for more

By Cindy Csordas, Communications Officer, City of Hamilton

New Kid in the “Communications” Town

Last year, I switched careers in a major way. It was a massive change that has helped me grow as a communicator and as a person. Insert being “new” to the field of public relations and communications after a lengthy career in journalism. I’ve jumped to the “other side of the fence” so to speak and the position has been more than rewarding.

As a Communication Officer, there’s no doubt I’ve faced challenges when trying to communicate to an organization with nearly 8,000 employees and a city with half a million residents.

When You’re a Newbie

When I was invited to my very first International Association Business Communicators event, (IABC) event by a colleague, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But within the first few minutes of being there I felt welcomed and intrigued by the people who attended the event.

Authors, communicators and entrepreneurs alike enlightened our conversations. There were communicators from so many fields – from business, technology, life sciences, hospitals and government. I felt as though communications knows no boundaries, no matter what organization you hail from.

Stepping up to the Communications Challenge

That evening we discussed, in depth, different communication challenges and work scenarios. We all enjoyed a complimentary taco bar before we rolled up our sleeves and got down to work. The IABC Golden Horseshoe Board of Directors worked very hard over the past few years to launch this first ever free event.

I was a little nervous walking in, thinking that it’s going to be so obvious I’m new to the industry. I made a mistake thinking that because it took no time to feel like an equal contributor to the conversations. I felt that everyone warmly embraced my ideas and thoughts as I did theirs. I saw and experienced mutual respect. Overall, I walked away feeling more aware, more educated and more prepared to move forward in the new path I’ve taken thanks to the IABC experience.

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Six free tools every communicator needs right now

By Rachel Shuttleworth

Looking to do more with less and further enhance your communications work? There are several free online tools that can help you do that. Here are some of the top picks for communications professionals.

  1. Canva (www.canva.com). With this simple graphic design software, create banners, social media images, reports, posters, brochures and more. Some images are free and others are low cost. Design, download and enjoy.
  2. Hemingway (www.hemingwayapp.com). Improve your writing with this free web app. It uses colours to identify grammatical errors and long complex sentences. The tool also assigns a readability grade.
  3. Pexels (www.pexels.com). Get free stock photos for personal and commercial use. No attribution is needed for the images you use. Browse through popular photos or use the key word search to find what you need. The site also offers some free stock video footage.
  4. Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com). A free limited plan is available for one user. Manage three social media profiles and access basic scheduling functions. Plus, hone your skills with free social marketing courses at the Hootsuite Academy. Courses are 30-minutes and cover topics like social media strategy, growing your online community and social advertising.
  5. Piktochart (https://piktochart.com). With this graphic design software, create professional looking infographics. The free account lets you access a wide range of functions and images. You can then share your work through social media or download it as a JPG or PNG file.
  6. HubSpot (https://www.hubspot.com). HubSpot offers several free versions of their marketing and sales tools. HubSpot Marketing Free helps you capture leads, track their activity on your website and convert them into customers. HubSpot Sales Free provides basic inbound sales features like email integration and scheduling. With HubSpot CRM, you can organize up to 1,000,000 contacts for free. Track customer interactions through email, social media and calls with this CRM.

Some of these tools give you the option of paying to access more features or functions. However, the free versions are valuable for communicators and may be just what you need.

What free tools do you use and love? We want to know! Email us at iabc.gh@gmail.com.

Rachel Shuttleworth

Rachel Shuttleworth has 15 years of experience in communications, marketing and management. She is the Executive Director of the Downtown Milton Business Improvement Area and volunteers with the Board of Directors of the IABC Golden Horseshoe chapter as the co-Vice President of Communications.