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Transform Even Reluctant Speakers Into Stars: Proven Strategies and Tactics to Use with Hospital Leaders

How UNC Health’s communications team prepares hospital executives for thought leadership


Among the most important currencies in health care is trust. Meanwhile, trust in leadership today is at an all-time low.


According to PwC’s 2022 Consumer Intelligence Series on Trust, 87 percent of executives think customers highly trust their companies. In reality, it’s roughly 30 percent.

That makes thought leadership from hospital executives a key method of cultivating stakeholder trust. The more leaders are accessible and knowable, the more employees and patients can trust the institutions they guide.


At UNC Health, a major academic health system in North Carolina, the communications team recognizes that its leaders are called upon to be exceptionally visible. But that doesn’t mean they have the skills to be effective communicators.


“Our leaders have multiple advanced degrees. But we find that many of them, even 30 years into their career and with advanced degrees, have never taken a simple communications class because it doesn’t exist in many curricula,” says Sharon Delaney McCloud, director of corporate communications.


This knowledge led her, with Jamie Williams, director of executive communications, to develop a strategy to help the hospital’s leadership stand out as experts. Together, they poured their energy into developing content in their leaders’ voices and training those leaders to become outstanding communicators.


Shaping one healthcare expert into a thought leader

Becoming a thought leader takes time and talent. UNC Health CEO Wesley Burks, MD was willing to invest the time. Williams was tasked with preparing all of Burks’s executive communications. Burks is an expert in pediatric allergy and immunology and a humble leader. Williams knew he could help cultivate the leader’s talent.


“That first year was all about building trust. To speak on behalf of a person, you have to understand them,” says Williams.


Read the full article on Strategic Health Care Marketing.




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