What resources does the Strategic Relations and Marketing Office offer UVA School of Medicine faculty?
Eric Swensen, Public Information Officer in the Strategic Relations and Marketing Office at the UVA School of Medicine (SOM) answers that question and more.
This post is the first in a series of interviews with faculty and staff who offer resources to SOM faculty. Stay tuned for more interviews with your colleagues!
Q: In a couple of sentences, will you describe what Strategic Relations and Marketing does. Then, can you take a few minutes to tell me about the services that you offer to SOM faculty.
I’m the Public Information Officer for the UVA Health System. I serve the School of Medicine, the Medical Center, the Physicians’ Group, and the Health Sciences Library. I also do some work with my colleagues in the School of Nursing. I oversee our public relations operation, which mainly means dealing with the media. I keep track of all the times we are mentioned in the media. I also work to get us favorable, positive coverage in the media.
One way we do that is by helping folks get prepared for interviews. That may be helping them determine if they want to do the interview at all, helping with the logistics of getting those interviews arranged, such as getting reporters to and from someone’s office, for instance. We also offer media training sessions for folks, whether for general knowledge or in preparation for a specific interview. Frankly, a lot of the media training helps in terms being prepared to talk with donors, with the public, with whomever you may want to talk to.
We also offer a media training presentation to any department requesting it. It takes about an hour, including time for questions and answers. The presentation goes into more depth about some of the things we offer, and also how to get yourself prepared for an interview.
I think there’s misperception that getting ready to do an interview well can take hours and hours and hours, but in a lot of cases, when you’re tapping into your expertise as a faculty member and a physician, it really oftentimes only takes ten or fifteen minutes to think through some of the key messages and key points you want to get across. We can provide tips of how to deliver those messages in the most effective way.
We also write a lot of press releases and media advisories. Between myself and my colleagues, we write about 100 releases and media advisories a year. Josh Barney is my colleague and works on the research side of media relations, which is especially important, I know, for the faculty in the School of Medicine. For folks who have interesting research they want to try to get out to a wider audience, whether that’s colleagues in their field or to the general public, Josh is a huge help.
We have a whole host of standing regular media opportunities in local media market. We have columns in the Daily Progress, we have a weekly live interview on NBC29, as well as some appearances on local radio stations, and some columns in Albemarle Magazine.
We also do a lot in our web team through social media. We have the official Health System Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as our own blog. We also work through our web team to produce videos that are shared both on UVAhealth.com, as well as through our social media channels, our blog, and sometimes we’ll use those videos to help get us additional media coverage.
We have a whole host of publications we produce ourselves. We have, for example, Vim & Vigor, which is a publication that goes out to about 60,000 households across the state. We also have an email newsletter called UVA Physician Resource that is distributed to referring physicians across the state, so we promote those physicians whose work is more referral based. That’s a great way to reach out to referring physicians across Virginia.
We have a PR line that is open during regular business hours: (434) 924-5679. If for any reason, you’re not sure who to contact with a media relations or public relations question or are having difficulty reaching me or Josh, the folks on the phone can help get you in touch with the right person.
Q: How long have you been at UVA?
It will be eleven years this June.
Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a while, I wanted to be a meteorologist. As I got older, I wanted to be a reporter, which I was for about eight-and-a-half years or so, for newspapers around Virginia and also North Carolina. Now, I’ve taken those skills and put them to use in public relations, which has been a lot of fun and a lot of challenges, as well.
Q: Do you have any children or fur babies at home?
I have a daughter, Stella, who is nine, in third grade. I also have a very large red fox Labrador named Nugget, who’s about 85 pounds. He’s a knucklehead, but he’s our knucklehead! He’s a sweetheart.
Q: 85 pounds! That’s not exactly a nugget!
When he was born, he looked like a little chicken nugget, so that’s how he got his name. Now I tell people he’s more like a 20 piece!
Q: Do you have a favorite local restaurant or hangout spot?
That’s tough – there’s so many great places to eat. If I had to pick, I would probably pick Continental Divide down West Main Street from the hospital. Really good Southwestern food. If you like a margarita, that’s definitely a great place to go for a drink. A lot of fun and affordable. If you don’t mind waiting a little while, it’s a great place to get dinner.