Discover Françoise Verschaeve

Discover Françoise Verschaeve, alias #me!, in a short 2-minutes video #presentation #video #newmedia #trendsmedia #communications #marketing #socialmedia #hireme #lookingforachallengingposition

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Which skills define a good communications specialist ?

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To me, no matter the degrees obtained, a good communicator must know how to listen before communicating. That is the key to create and maintain positive relationships internal, with stakeholders, KOL, between the clients and the public using media outlets.

The communicator must provide strong research and analytical skills as well as problem solving methodologies. He will often be confronted with a huge mass of complex information that he will have to analyze and then summarize, interpret and synthesize in a concise way, in a clear and precise language, comprehensible for all. 

But to stand out from competitors, he must treat the information in an original, creative way, while remaining stuck to reality. He must combine creativity AND pragmatism. He has to prove a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.

Rarely confronted with only one project at a time (thankfully!), the communicator must demonstrate superior organizational and time-management skills, competing priorities. The skills most often required are the ability to multi-task, meet deadlines and work under pressure.
Everyone has their own tips and tricks for managing time, either manually or electronically. Personally, I make lists with priorities and check when an action is performed.

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The communications specialist position often requires a sound judgement and effective use of necessary discretionIt is indeed a position where the communicator can deal  with delicate information, under embargo, confidential and he must be able to be discreet and diplomatic.

The PR – or communications – specialist – must think strategically. His role is to develop and implement communications plans.

We are living in the 21st century so… The communications specialist must provide extensive knowledge of social media platforms, computer skills and technologies ! More than a communicator, he must become a community manager.

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The size of a communications team can be extremely variable from one company to another. The communicator must be capable of working independently with minimal supervision while being a collaborative member of a communications team.

Yes, of course, last but not least… The communications specialist must have strong writing, copy editing and proofreading skills, also interpersonal and communications skills. Storytelling must be a vocation, a passion, not just a work for paycheck… But do I really need to tell you that ?

Typically the entry-level communications specialist possess a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field: public relations, communications, marketing or journalism.

The use of the masculine gender includes the feminine and is employed solely to facilitate reading.

Design Thinking in Healthcare

Harvard Business Review, Nov 3 2017

How Design Thinking Is Improving Patient-Caregiver Conversations

November 03, 2017

Technical developments tend to grab the headlines in health care. Predictive analytics, telemedicine, electronic health records — technology is rightly seen as a transformative force in health delivery.

But it’s not the only one. At Rotterdam Eye Hospital, hospital administrators have found that through their ongoing design-thinking program, lower-tech measures can also improve health care. Simple measures such as building a more intuitive website, replacing harsh fluorescent lighting and cold linoleum floors with softer lighting and wood parquet, and giving children and pediatric ophthalmologists matching T-shirts have reduced patient fears. Addressing patients’ fears is important because fear can make an eye operation difficult or even impossible. Moreover, less fear translates into greater patient satisfaction.

Now, Rotterdam Eye Hospital has integrated a measure that is even lower-tech: better conversations. People have a deep-seated fear of eye surgery, and patients naturally want to discuss their conditions and their treatment options with their doctors. But as the hospital’s design-thinking team observed those discussions, they realized that not all patients are looking for the same conversation. The team — which included one of us (Roel) — saw that most patients fit into one of four categories: Google patients, who are obsessive about information; dominant patients, who like to be firmly in charge of their case; quiet patients, who will say everything is fine, even when it isn’t; and emotional patients, who, more than anything, just want reassurance that their caregivers are looking after them.

After researching the different ways in which people respond to fear, the coach on the design-thinking team trained hospital staff to look for the distinctive set of verbal and nonverbal cues that marked patient behavior as belonging to one of four types and then respond appropriately (see the exhibit “Improving Patient-Caregiver Conversations”).


One complicating factor is that patients — and their loved ones, for that matter — behave differently in different contexts. Someone might be quiet as a patient but feel the need to dominate the room if he is trying to find out what the doctors are planning for his elderly mother. Or when the reality of a difficult diagnosis sinks in, she may go from being a Googler to an emotional patient. Given that people do sometimes switch between types, it’s even more important to be aware of patients’ verbal and nonverbal signs. A change can indicate that a patient is afraid or feels helpless. In both situations, it’s critical for a caregiver to respond appropriately.

The program is now seven years old. A trial group was trained in 2010, and the entire staff is now trained on a yearly basis. The training takes two days. On the first day, participants get acquainted with the different patient types. They find out what type of person they are, and in small groups they discover how they can recognize other types and how they can respond to them. Then participants go back to their jobs and are invited to apply what they have learned. After two to three weeks have passed, participants come together and share their experiences.

Besides the yearly training, the principles of the patient types are reviewed at every morning staff meeting in a Trivial Pursuit–style card game that also includes questions on issues such as infection prevention, medication safety, and checklist management. The purpose is to discuss current topics and difficult issues in a playful and accessible way. To ensure the insights generated by the card questions and activities stick, the results are shared with the group the following morning.

After each training program, the caregivers who participated are surveyed annually for several years. In 2016, the staff at Rotterdam Eye Hospital gave the annual training sessions an 8.7 on a 10-point scale. Ninety-nine percent of the participants said they would recommend the program to a colleague; 96% said they would like to attend a follow-up training session.

Many hospital staff members have told us these sessions are helpful. “Thanks to the yearly training, I now have fewer difficult patients, because I can recognize their fear signs and know how to respond,” one medical resident said.

An ophthalmologist said: “I always thought the more information, the better. Now I know that is only helpful for some patients, whereas other patients become more and more afraid when I tell them what is going to happen.”

The benefits of the method were also reflected in high levels of patient satisfaction. In 2016, MediQuest, an independent research firm, surveyed 850 of the Rotterdam Eye Hospital’s patients to obtain a Net Promoter Score (NPS). It asked them to indicate on a 0 to 10 scale (0 was very unlikely and 10 was very likely) the likelihood that they would recommend the hospital to family and friends. The percentage of patients who answered between 0 and 6 was subtracted from the percentage who answered 9 or 10. In 2016, the hospital’s outpatient care received an NPS of 54.7%, one of the highest scores of the group of 31 Dutch hospitals that were surveyed (the average for all participating health care institutions was 42.7%). For hospital care, Rotterdam Eye Hospital received an NPS score of 70.6% (the average for all the 39 surveyed hospitals was 42.2%).

This program differs from conventional design-thinking work in that its positive impact goes well beyond “the customer.” The annual training sessions to identify the four types of patient have also improved how the staff members work with each other.

“The training taught me how to provide feedback to a dominant colleague, and he recognizes it!” one nurse said. “I thought that getting straight to the point was being rude. But that was my perception.”

This program has worked out so well at Rotterdam Eye Hospital that in 2014 Irishof, a special nursing home for the visually impaired elderly, decided to adopt the system. The home, operated by Zorgpartners Midden-Holland, used the same categories but extended them to include details about how these four types of patients deal with grief and declining health. Its caregivers like the program.

A rehabilitation center operated by Zorgpartners Midden-Holland is currently testing the system. The center wants to design motivational programs tailored to the patient’s particular needs, taking into account how fears of delirium and dementia affect different patients. Initial results — for patients and staff — are very promising. All participants said they would recommend the program to a colleague, and 99% of the trained caregivers would like to attend a follow-up program.

As far back as the ancient Greeks, physicians have understood that personality plays an important role in human health. Hippocrates himself once wrote, “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.” In this technology-focused age, it’s easy to forget that there are times when only human beings can give each other what they most need.


Dirk Deichmann is an assistant professor at Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management.


Roel van der Heijde is a partner at N3Wstrategy. He previously worked as a senior consultant and trainer at the Rotterdam Eye Hospital.


Boost your PR coverage asking the right question !

Entrepreneur, Nov 2 2017

Answering This One Question Can Boost Positive PR Coverage

If you didn’t own the store, why would you care that it’s opening?

Here’s a newsflash: most public relations and media relations professionals have the wrong perspective when they interact with the media. The typical PR professional thinks to themselves, “How can I get the media to cover my story?”

That’s the wrong way to think and wrong question to ask.

While there’s never a guarantee of media coverage, you greatly increase your chances of a reporter or editor sharing your story if you think like a news reporter or editor. The only question media members have in their minds when they’re deciding on a story is, “Why should my audience or readers care about this?”

After more than 25 years in the communications field, I have yet to meet a traditionally-trained PR professional or marketing executive who automatically thinks that way, even though it’s the best way to crack the media code for coverage.

The reality is that reporters, producers and editors are not anxiously staring at their inboxes waiting for your email pitch, news release announcing a new store opening or a media alert naming a new CEO of your organization. If anything, news media personnel are looking for a reason NOT to cover your story. They are simply inundated with too many news leads to begin with.

The best way to cut through the clutter of possible news story ideas jockeying for the attention of the media gatekeepers is to think like one of them. Here are a few things to move your thinking towards a media mindset:

1. Be helpful even if it doesn’t help you.

A large part of media and public relations is relationships. The best way to build a relationship is to help someone whenever you can without asking for something in return. The idea is simple and analogous to your personal finances, in that you have to make deposits in a bank before you can make withdrawals. Media relationships are the same way.

You must help reporters, producers and editors with stories that aren’t necessarily about your organization, product or message first before asking them to cover you. When I was a reporter, I responded positively to PR folks who approached me in that way.

Related: 3 Branding Goals I Know You Can Accomplish This Year

2. Do your research.

By this I mean get to know the type of stories the reporter likes to cover; understand the audience of the particular media outlet you’re targeting and know exactly how the outlet brands itself. That last point is crucial. A pitch to The New York Times will (and should) be wildly different than a story idea you would pitch to Rolling Stone magazine.

Each publication has a completely different audience, editorial mission and viewpoint. The same holds true if you want to pitch CNN or Fox News. Each of those channels require a different tact. The savvy PR person will know that and customize their pitch accordingly.

Related: How to Make Company Announcements in Buzzworthy Ways

3. Create a bona fide news hook.

The best media relations folks understand that the only way to get coverage for their event, message, organization or product is to find an angle that’s going to be meaningful and relevant for the target news outlet’s respective audience. Again, you must answer the fundamental question, “Why should the viewer/reader care?”

It’s simply not enough just to say something is “new and improved.” If that’s all you’ve got to pitch, the news editor or reporter will transfer your call to the advertising department and make you pay for an ad.

So, instead of announcing that you’re opening a submarine sandwich shop, a better news angle would be to invite a news crew/reporter to tag along while you deliver free submarine sandwiches every day for a week to a different homeless shelter in your city or hand them out where the homeless congregate. You’ve now transformed a new store opening into a legit news story about a city’s homeless problem and one small way you’re trying to respond to it and inspire others to do the same.

These tips are obvious once they’ve clearly stated in an article list, but it’s been my anecdotal experience that they are obviously missing from most PR pitches to the media.