Mayo Clinic video shows employees how they help the company succeed

Bluntly describing recent hard times, a series of videos—many of them staff-made—focused on employee contributions to the hospital’s mission.

It wasn’t your typical rally-the-troops video.

When Mayo Clinic launched its “Mayo Effect” internal campaign to promote its new strategic plan in 2010, an accompanying video noted the recent recession had threatened the hospital’s future.

“We actually wondered: Will Mayo Clinic survive?” the video says.

Despite the gloomy opening, the video was part of a campaign that drove home the chief executive’s main message, inspired employee videos, and doubled awareness of Mayo’s “refreshed strategic plan,” Mayo communicators say.

It even created a new buzz phrase in the famed hospital based in Rochester, Minn. Not bad for a multiyear campaign that staffers hammered out in less than four weeks.

“We felt that what you do every day tells the Mayo story, and that’s our story, and we want to own that,” says Senior Communication Specialist Ann M. Schauer.

A charge from the chief

The campaign started with a two-day brainstorming session of communicators and creative people. When the CEO, Dr. John H. Noseworthy, spoke to the group, he was asked what one message employees should take away from the strategic plan, says Annie Burt, institutional communications manager.

“He told us that he wanted all employees to know that they had a role to play in making the strategic plan and Mayo Clinic successful,” says Burt. “It wasn’t just a mission statement that you put on the wall in a frame, but that there was an active and actual role for employees to take in making this thing successful.”

Dr. Noseworthy kicked off the campaign in June 2010 with staff meetings—27 of them at the clinic, which now has 60,000 employees and operates major campuses in Rochester, Minn.; Scottsdale and Phoenix, Ariz.; and Jacksonville, Fla. He used the video to start the discussion, and it played on the wall of the meetings in 10-foot-high letters.

“It’s very dramatic, because it’s on this big screen, and the last frame of the video is the word ‘you,'” Burt says. “And it really underscores that you are the critical piece that makes Mayo clinic successful.”

Following nine months of communications and videos, Mayo staff surveyed 1,600 physicians, supervisors, and administrators early in 2011 to see how well they were doing. The results blew them away.

High awareness

Eighty-eight percent said they were aware of the campaign; this figure had never run higher than 40 percent in previous campaigns.

“I’ve never seen numbers like that before,” Schauer says.

Mayo then called on people to submit videos telling how they helped the hospital succeed in helping patients and making the strategic plan successful. More than 1,000 created 60 “Mayo Effect” videos. The entire staff would vote on their favorites.

“We invited employees to make their own videos that would be judged not based on quality production but on substance of content, sort of to say, ‘What does the Mayo Effect mean to you?” Burt says.

Groups of employees began working together to make videos, and entire campuses rallied to support colleagues and friends online, Burt says.

The videos ran the gamut of creative efforts, from songs and poems to dramas. The winning video came from the food services staff at the Arizona campus, to the tune of Harry Nilsson’s 1971 song “Coconut.” (Come on, you know it: “She put de lime in de coconut, she drank ’em bot’ up.”) Masses of Arizona employees sought to promote their local video, Burt says.

A woman from the education department used video to tell a moving story—that of her own cancer. She used a silent movie style, with sound cards, to make her point.

“Her video was about how she, as a part of her job, trained students to work with patients,” Burt says. “And then they went through their medical training and became physicians, who then treated her for cancer.”

Outsiders notice

A final stage, in the third year of the campaign, involved videos of staffers talking about their work at the clinic.

“The Mayo Effect” theme framed two years’ worth of annual reports, and it caught the attention of outsiders. Marketing strategist Andrea Syverson, whose father-in-law was treated at Mayo for pancreatic cancer, wrote a blog item titled “Pass ‘The Mayo Effect,'” praising “the power of ‘The Mayo Effect’ and the application it has to other brands outside of the health community.”

Before asking your associates to interpret a strategic plan in videos, the key is to make sure they understand concepts you wish to illustrate, Burt says. Mayo had laid the groundwork beforehand, honestly discussing fears the institution wouldn’t survive and praising employees for “turning the ship around,” Burt says.

“It was a real acknowledgment to our staff to say, ‘Things got tough there all of a sudden,'” she says. “Thank you for what you do. And it’s only because of you that we were successful.'”

One other benefit was that, a tiny, nagging fear of Burt’s proved to be unfounded: that when something went wrong, some curmudgeon would grumble, “Well, that’s the Mayo effect.” Thankfully, that did not happen.

Instead, these days when communications posts a great story on the internal network about somebody going above and beyond, people comment, “That’s the Mayo effect,” or, “You are the Mayo effect.”


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