Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gotta love this one

In the continuing series on email solicitations to the CEO, here is one from a marketing company. If you are a marketing company, shouldn't you be better at marketing? Sorry if this embarrasses the sender, but I can't leave out certain items as I present the critique.

Hi Paul, [Use of "Hi" rather than "Dear". Use of first name rather than "Mr. Levy". This is overly familiar. May be appropriate among people of a certain generation, but definitely not so for people of my generation. BTW, in our hospital, we have a rule requiring patients to be addressed as Mr., or Mrs., or Ms. until and unless the patient permits the use of the first name.]

A friend of mine said we should be in touch. [An anonymous friend of his said we should be in touch. Is this supposed to be persuasive or meaningful?]

I am the Business Director for **, the leading medical marketing communications agency in Pittsburgh. [I love Pittsburgh as a city, but give me a reason to consider a firm that is not local when it comes to marketing.] We specialize in helping medical clients and laboratories build powerful brands and interactive experiences. [Why would I think that interactive marketing experiences would be of any value to or appropriate for a hospital?]

Can we be of any assistance to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center? [Hint: Never ask a question that has "yes" or "no" for an answer. The answer will always be "no".]

[Absence of "Yours truly" or other such closing.]

- Greg [Still overly informal.]

Greg **
Business Director
** Medical Marketing Communications The Marketing Agency to Medical Clients & Laboratories http://www.**.com/ [Poor formatting in that three lines of text are grouped together instead of starting each afresh. If I want a marketing company, I want one with good graphics and presentation skills.]


THE SPUS said...

Thank you for writing this post. As someone who is starting in the health administration field, I think this post was very useful. Actually, your whole blog is useful!

I would also like to commend you for not only having a blog, but also regularly updating it and not being afraid to voice your opinion. I look forward to reading more about the issues of health care from the POV of a CEO!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I know this wasn't your primary point, but I LOVE your policy about addressing patients as Mr. or Mrs, etc. There is nothing so demeaning to one's dignity as being undressed, anxious AND having someone who looks like a teenager calling you by your first name. (and I am only 56!)

Anonymous said...

This was interesting...thanks

Anonymous said...

Finally, some one who agrees with me about strangers being overly familiar! I am 31 and not buying into those saying that the young like to be addressed that way!!!

I cannot get over the fact that people, who do not know me, will address me by my first name when I have just met them! Or the parents who tell their two year olds to call me by my first name right after I have introduced myself as Mrs. so and so. Let us not forget the office mail that comes addressed similarly, "Hi Jane...

And in reviewing the letter sent to you, would it have been better if he had stated the name of the person? E.G. "I got your name and contact information from Mr. George Bush who indicated that you might be interested in my services."

Anonymous said...

As someone who works in marketing AND receives lots of idiotic pitches like that one, I can only say that the brutal forces of market reality will eventually deal with the ineffective.

Re the Mr./Ms./Mrs. policy: BIDMC's Patient Bill of Rights (yes I've read the thing!) says patients have the right to be addressed in a way that's not overly familiar. In my experience compliance is very good among medical staff (doctors, nurses, aides) but spotty among desk personnel, who (in some departments) frequently call me "honey" or "darlin." It's weird to be called that by someone I just met.

I imagine they mean well or it's part of how everyone treats each other at their home, but it's a glaring deviation from the professionalism I see everywhere else at BIDMC.

Otoh, I look at people weird (with a grin) when they call me Mister, and I immediately say "Dave."

Anonymous said...

As a marketer, I am embarassed by that poor representation of my profession.

On the other hand, the feeble attempt at informality with a busy hospital CEO was rather amusing.

Thanks for sharing.

Rob said...

A cheap pitch will always reveal bad intent. Thus the term "SPAM."

Anonymous said...

Well, he didn't open up with "Yo!"

Marianne BC said...

As the volunteer webmaster for our parish, I recently received an email that started "Hi Mike" -- sounds like your letter. Except that in this case "Mike" is the head priest in the parish, uses his full name rather than a nickname, and is addressed as Father LastName by the parish. I was offended on his behalf! You have to wonder what some people are thinking.

eeka said...

(Giggling at your edits!)

What's your hospital's policy on addressing patients who identify as androgynous and/or find binary gender offensive?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone brought this up. But I have to disagree regarding the above comment that it's only an issue for people who identify as androgynous or otherwise genderqueer. Any number of people might not identify as the gender you assume them to be, or might identify as genderless or other-gendered without you having any way of knowing that.

Your policy seems transphobic, and it might explain the treatment I got in your ER recently. The staff repeatedly called me "Ms." which I found incredibly offensive. I'll accept "Mr.", but I really prefer "Leonard". Not one person asked what I like to be called. They called me either "Ms." or the first name on my insurance card -- both of which are just not who I am.

For what it's worth, the state's GLBT Healthcare Access Project gives a guideline of never using these and other gendered terms until the patient has used them. They recommend just asking people what name and pronouns they prefer. They do free trainings to healthcare organizations -- maybe give them a call. MTPC could also probably provide similar guidelines.