In case you haven't noticed, we live in a fishbowl.
People are appraising our performance and talking about it. To their friends and family members. To the news media. And now, on social media.
With the exploding interconnectedness of our world, the level of scrutiny is higher than ever, and the public's inclination to share their opinion and their means of doing so is greater than ever.
How clean is our facility?
How caring are our doctors, nurses and support staff?
Were we able to help them with their medical issue?
How effective was their learning experience?
How easy is it to find their way around campus?
We are judged on these and many other standards every minute of every day. And our customers are sharing their opinions about our performance with their family and friends.
Why does this matter? Because as any advertising executive will tell you, there is no more powerful marketing than word-of-mouth endorsement. Or criticism.
I was reminded of this with the recent issue of BOOM Jackson, the lifestyle magazine that publishes the annual Best of Jackson rankings. Jeff Good, the local restaurateur, listed 10 of his favorite things about Jackson. And, by golly, UMMC made his list.
Jeff said, "I have found that UMMC is an amazing organization chock full of smart, caring people who work daily to make our lives better." He added that his personal physician works at UMMC, and on Jeff's very first visit he found the place to be "incredibly efficient."
"I think that I will live well past my 80s, thanks to the work going on at the corner of State Street and Woodrow Wilson Drive," he wrote.
Those are kind words that I'm grateful to read. The fact that they come from a respected source who has earned a reputation for stellar customer service in his own businesses means they carry even more weight. It also doesn't hurt that Jeff, an early adopter of social media, has 5,000 Facebook friends!
Of course, it's nice to receive praise from others, but don't forget that we can contribute to the conversation, too.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review describes "the art of evangelism." Evangelism, which literally means to proclaim good news, often carries a religious connotation, but in a modern business context it's about "explaining to the world how your product or service can improve people's lives."
The author goes on to say: "If you're a leader, you should evangelize for your organization and what it has to offer, and you should feel comfortable playing this role both internally…and externally, at industry conferences and via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. In the social age, evangelism is everyone's job."
Most of what I know about social media has come from raising four teenagers. So I've been dabbling in Facebook and Twitter for a while. Believe me, I am not an expert.
In my new role, however, I see social media as part of my job of sharing our own good news. So as of this week I have an official Vice Chancellor Twitter account and I've started tweeting and retweeting items that help tell our story. If you're on Twitter, follow me @LAWoodwardMD.
If you're active on social media, I also encourage you to follow our institutional Twitter account (@UMMCnews) and to like our UMMC Facebook page (UMMC1). Share and retweet the items that you think best tell our story. (One important caveat: Never post a patient's protected health information without written consent administered through Public Affairs or Marketing.)
UMMC is an amazing organization and it's your work that makes it so. In the fishbowl we live in, our performance will always speak louder than our words. But as long as we're here in the water together, we might as well be evangelists for our cause of A Healthier Mississippi.