Rapid response content strategies for COVID-19 era

A prestigious West Coast academic health science center was experiencing unprecedented communications demands during the pandemic. Internally, they needed to rapidly adjust the scope and cadence of staff updates. Externally, leaders were being bombarded by media to provide insight, but also needed to communicate policy changes to patients and inspire the community to follow masking and physical-distancing directives.


Our team had partnered with the organization three years earlier to help their new chief marcomm officer reorganize her team. That focus had started with people, emphasized strategy and positively transformed her operation, and the existing relationship expedited the success of this rapid response effort.

By their side since that time, we jumped in to provide strategy to align messaging and support ongoing content development. The resulting “Safe to See Us” campaign reached patients and internal audiences. A toolkit for referring physicians to support their reopening plans ended up strengthening their affinity toward the organization’s brand.

In tandem with the branding work, we developed a comprehensive launch plan. Not only were we introducing the new organization to the public, but we were also kicking off the relationship across the three founding oncology practices and needed to bring along their approximately 2,000 employees and 225 oncology providers in 60 locations. We partnered with practice leadership teams and developed customized communications plans for each one. Those plans became the general template for future affiliating practices. We also produced a comprehensive internal communications plan and rollout playbook, including employee town hall scripts, physician memos, patient communications, media and more.


The targeted email campaign for physicians was a tremendous success, reaching tens of thousands of referring physicians and averaged an overwhelming 40+ percent open rate. Meanwhile, internal communications received unprecedented readership and praise from all levels of the organization. The “Safe to See Us” messaging resonated swiftly, and patient volumes at the organization returned to pre-COVID-19 levels before the end of July.

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A major health system faced with tremendous communications needs due to the global pandemic smartly aligned messaging and leveraged their channels to inspire confidence about safely returning to their facilities.


referring physicians reached


open rate for email campaign


patient volumes returned to pre-pandemic levels by end of July 2020

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