Kaiser hires GolinHarris to help broaden its reach

OAKLAND, CA: Kaiser Permanente selected GolinHarris for a six-figure AOR account to help the healthcare organization communicate the benefits of its operating model, database, and research to a wider audience.

OAKLAND, CA: Kaiser Permanente selected GolinHarris for a six-figure AOR account to help the healthcare organization communicate the benefits of its operating model, database, and research to a wider audience.

The managed healthcare organization embarked upon an AOR search following an internal restructuring last year, according to Sybil Wartenberg, director of national media relations for Kaiser. Wartenberg expects Golin to help the company expand its online presence, its media relations outreach, and to forge strategic partnerships. In an attempt to diversify itself in the managed healthcare space, Kaiser's messaging will focus on five key areas: community benefits, operating model, electronic data system, research, and sustainability.

"We've tried to dedicate a core team to being really focused on proactive outreach so we're not sidelined when things come up," she said. "Because we're a nonprofit organization, and, historically, have been so focused on just delivering healthcare, there hasn't been a ton of chest-beating on the part of the organization."

Kaiser's green angle, for example, will promote its buildings, and how they use solar power, emphasize natural light, have walls made with eco-friendly materials, and PVC-free carpeting.

"There are a lot of [environmental efforts] within the organization that have been around for a decade, but are just now coming into line with what is popular," Wartenberg asserted.

The decision to revamp its outreach strategy came following an internal analysis of existing media coverage that indicated that public perception didn't represent the team's key messages.

"We really feel like because of the way [Kaiser] is organized, a lot of people don't understand it," Wartenberg noted. "They see it as a closed system that isn't relevant to others in healthcare, but that simply isn't the case. There is so much that we do here that is completely applicable to the entire healthcare industry."

Prior media coverage has focused on its medical research, and Kaiser plans to build upon this coverage by pointing out the relationship between the research and Kaiser's capacity to combat an array of related health issues.

"From a media coverage perspective, research has been the most successful, because anything with a scientific basis tends to be more newsworthy because it's already been validated by somebody else," Wartenberg said.

Although the healthcare press has already largely covered Kaiser, the organization plans to expand its outreach to business and consumer media, as well as explore the social media space in order to distribute and solicit the company's information.

"We want to make sure that we're where our audiences are," she said. "That definitely includes online."

The account will be based in Golin's LA office with assistance from its San Francisco team.

"We will be doing a heavy emphasis on media, and new and social media outlets," said Judy Johnson, EVP and managing director of Golin's Western Region. "I think [new media] is an area of interest and an area that [Kaiser] has not done a lot of work in, so it's a great opportunity."

Wartenberg said Golin won the account following a six-month competitive bid that included three other agencies. There was not an incumbent AOR. Mercer Island Group assisted with the search.

Industry sources told PRWeek that MS&L, Chandler Chicco, and Edelman - the health organization's crisis communications firm - were among the firms that pitched the account.

Kaiser will continue working with Edelman for issues management on a project basis.

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