Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doing PR for CHOP

This semester, I am interning with the Public Relations Department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Doing PR for the #1 children’s hospital in the nation has proved to be very demanding, but the hard work has its rewards. Like in all types of public relations, networking is key in healthcare PR. However, knowledge of the various medical diseases and ailments is also important.

Trisomy 21 (commonly known as Down Syndrome) is one of numerous diseases the hospital caters to. Recently, I was able to be a part of the 9th annual Buddy Walk and Family Fun Day, which benefits the Children’s Hospital Trisomy 21 Program and the National Down Syndrome Society. Being the primary PR person for the event gave insight on how proactive you must be when following-up with the media. Just sending a release on Friday for an event on Sunday is not enough if you want to have a good media turnout. I learned that it is necessary to make a follow-up call on both Friday about an hour after the release is sent and on Saturday during the afternoon to make sure the release did not get lost within the countless e-mails a news desk receives daily. On Sunday, I also followed-up with the stations to confirm whether or not they would be able to make it to the event. Although it took countless calls, the extra effort resulted in some good media coverage of the event.

The hospital also recently had a portrait unveiling of eight portraits of patients in the Craniofacial Program at the hospital. The project involved a group of artist, patients and medical experts using the intimate process of portrait painting to help the children with craniofacial problems see themselves in a different light. The event required a lot of picture taking and it was my responsibility to make sure the photographer took pictures of all the patients along with their families, craniofacial surgeons and the artist who painted their portraits. Although this was more of an exclusive event, it gave me insight about how private events operate from a PR perspective.

Although I have only been interning for a few weeks, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PR Department has already given me great opportunities to learn about PR responsibilities. The plethora of medical knowledge I am learning is an experience like nothing else. It is also great to be able to work for children who have, in most circumstances, had their choice of a healthy childhood taken away. If you would like to learn more about the hospital’s events or medical research, please visit their website at

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kyle Smith.

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