“Effective Executive” Series with Jamie Walker of Fit Approach and SweatGuru

JamieWalker_PhotoCreditVictoriaDavis

This week’s “Effective Executive” interview is with Jamie Walker, co-founder of Fit Approach and SweatGuru, fitness fiend and all-around energetic entrepreneur.

Jamie, along with business partner Alyse Mason Brill, launched Fit Approach, a health-centric community, blog and class booking service, back in 2009. Their initial cult following evolved into an impressive (and intensely-loyal) online and offline community, so the team spun off the class-booking portion of the site, creating SweatGuru – the “Open Table” of fitness – last year.

A self-proclaimed “professional hustler who thrives on forging strong partnerships,” Jamie leads vision, strategy and business development for both companies. We asked her about this role, along with some of her business best practices and what’s on deck for the remainder of 2013.

SweatGuru is winning accolades left and right for being one of the hottest San Francisco startups – have you found it difficult breaking into the Silicon Valley boys’ club?

I wouldn’t say that it has been difficult breaking into a male-dominated space, but it has been a challenge that we’ve come to love tackling on a daily basis. My co-founder, Alyse Mason-Brill has a great, short response to it all: “We won’t back down!”

And that’s really the truth. Every day, we work on something that we absolutely love, live and breathe – it makes building a product that will change the fitness industry so much easier. We’re winning awards, but it is only because our fitness community has come to know Alyse and me so well, so they support us and encourage us week after week.

We have had some memorable encounters, though. Like being called “little girls” or the infamous VC who remarked that he “didn’t make investments based on boobs.” Situations like those just add more fuel to our fire. We’re creating a product we believe in and confident that it will make some noise, and that’s why we keep running so hard.

Your professional background is in PR/Marketing. How does that help you in your gig now as an entrepreneur?

Everybody has great ideas and concepts in their minds that they think will be groundbreaking. But an idea without a vision, plan or goal is just that – an idea.

Having worked in marketing and PR for seven years, I was fortunate to learn from a lot of smart people. From building a brand to the art of networking and making personal connections, I can definitely rely on what I did as a marketing and PR geek. Now, we have an idea with a solid roadmap and marketing team behind it. Never underestimate the power of good PR and marketing.

You’ve built a really engaged, loyal community – both online and offline. Can you share your top three tips for engagement and community-building?

This has been one of my favorite parts of this journey so far. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. It takes a lot of hard and genuine work to build a real, engaged and authentic community. If I had to narrow it down into three tips, it’d be this:

  1. Dedicate yourself for the better good of the community – They’ll learn to trust you as a result of that.
  2. Embody the community – If you aren’t involved and making it a huge part of your life AND enjoying it, how can you expect others to?
  3. Be authentic and transparent – Believe in what the community represents, and don’t be afraid to show it. You can’t fake that; people will see right through you.

You’re one very active lady! Tell us about your own athletic pursuits – i.e. how the heck you manage to stay in shape, despite a super hectic schedule.

I follow one major rule of thumb: Staying in shape is not optional.

If I were a dog, I’d be the breed people would be hesitant to buy because I need a lot of space and exercise to stay sane. If I go a few days without a workout or yoga class, I start to feel sluggish, cranky and am not very fun to work with. (But don’t worry; I won’t pee on your carpets, ha!)

That being said, regardless of my schedule or late nights, fitness is essential to my day. The alarm typically goes off at 5:30am, and I’m up and running – literally.

Running and yoga are my two mainstays. I’ve been doing ultra-marathons for the past eight years – I love the 50-milers, but am aiming to conquer the 100 in the near future. Yoga is one of the main reasons I can stay on the daily grind and not feel a letdown. It really does help keep you grounded and focused on the bigger picture.

Tell us, what’s your favorite part of your job(s)?

The fact that it doesn’t feel like a job…I love what I do and love the people I work with.

Also, when it comes to being an entrepreneur, the trial and error of creativity is a fantastic experience. Whether I’m alone in the office or brainstorming with others, the power to create and do things that you want, and then DO them…it’s a really cool feeling. It’s so rewarding. I’ve grown a lot in the past couple years – learned so much – and am humbled by the experience.

Finally, what’s next for you for the second half of 2013?

This both excites and frightens me all at the same time: We’re launching SweatGuru, I’m running a 100 in September and planning my wedding. That’s all. :)

“Influencers Who Inspire” Our Latest Interview with Kate Gamble, Managing Editor, healthsystemCIO.com

KG_LinkedIn (3)This week’s interview is with Kate Gamble, Managing Editor of healthsystemCIO.com.  Gamble has copious experience covering the healthcare IT field, and prior to her role at healthsystemCIO.com, Gamble worked as senior editor of Pharmacy Times. And, earlier, worked with healthsystemCIO.com Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra at Healthcare Informatics magazine, ultimately attaining the title of associate managing editor. Gamble has interviewed dozens of CIOs and attended numerous annual conferences such as HIMSS and MGMA, as well as local HIMSS events. We caught up with Gamble and asked her what is currently on top of mind for healthcare CIOs, her background in healthcare and sports journalism and what is next for her for the remainder of 2013.

 

What is the best part of your job/career?

There are so many things I love about my job. First, I work for someone I truly respect. Anthony Guerra and I are a great team — not just because we see eye-to-eye on many key issues, but also because I know I can speak up when I don’t agree with something. I realize how lucky I am to have a job where I’m given complete latitude regarding editorial decisions. The fact that Anthony trusts me to make decisions motivates me to work that much harder. Second, I love being part of the healthcare IT industry during such a transformative and interesting time period. And third, I think it’s such a unique privilege to spend so much time speaking to CIOs, the people who are guiding the industry through this evolution.

 

With the boom in healthcare technology, is it easier or harder to source quality content for healthsystemCIO?

I would say that it’s easier to source content — the field of healthcare IT is growing so rapidly. There are always new technologies and new players entering the game and raising the bar. What can be tricky, however, is finding quality content. healthsystemCIO.com adheres to all standard journalistic practices, and we are vigilant about maintaining separation between editorial and advertising. As a result, we’ve had to decline interviews and contributed pieces on several occasions, but I think it’s imperative that we maintain a high standard.

 

What is one healthcare tech product you think can have a real impact on our healthcare system?

One topic that often comes up in our interviews with CIOs is mobile device management in the hospital and physician practice settings. iPhones have absolutely changed the game. The demand from clinicians became so overwhelming that CIOs had to find a way to enable them to view electronic records on these devices, while ensuring data is protected. Mobile device management now plays a key role in the CIO’s strategy. To me, that shows the impact that iPhones have had, and it’s only going to grow as more patient-focused apps become available. These devices could also have a significant role in the growing field of telemedicine. It’ll be interesting to watch.

 

In a recent article, you mentioned you’re a fan of the Food Network. What other TV captures your attention and why?

My husband and I like to watch HGTV — it’s amazing to see how a home can be transformed. It shows what a difference it can make when you use your imagination and think out of the box (of course, it helps to have a crew of designers and builders at your disposal). I also love to watch baseball and football. I’ve been a big sports fan my whole life and I’ve found that a lot of the inspiration for my blog posts has come from sports. One piece I’m really proud of compared the leadership styles of NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin and NY Jets coach Rex Ryan.

 

You interview dozens of healthcare CIOs – what is the single biggest concern they’re facing today?

The recurring theme in many of the interviews I’ve conducted is that CIOs simply have too much on their plates. With deadlines looming for federal incentive programs, organizations are being asked to accomplish so much, and in such a short timeframe — all while staying under budget. Specifically, one of the biggest challenges for CIOs is being able to recruit and retain top IT talent. The demand far outweighs the supply.

 

 

Have you always worked in healthcare media? Why? 

No – I actually worked in the newspaper industry for several years, mostly as a sports writer, and the experience I gained was invaluable. In the newspaper environment, there is no room for error. Editors are tough, deadlines are extremely tight, and if you make a mistake, there’s no erasing it (and no hiding from an angry coach or parent). I loved the energy in the newsroom, but I wanted to explore other areas of writing. I kind of “fell into” healthcare writing and I’ve never looked back. I feel so privileged to be part of such a rapidly evolving industry. The digitization of health records is changing the way care is delivered, and to have a front-row seat is amazing.

 

It seems nearly every publication these days is moving toward a contributed content model at least to some degree. Do you view this as a good thing for the industry or not?

I view it as a positive; however, I think it’s critical that publications hold themselves to high standards and ensure that all content — whether it comes from an outside source or a staff-writer — is useful and interesting to the reader, contains accurate information, and is free of any conflicts of interest.

 

What is next for you for the remainder of 2013?

Our goals at healthsystemCIO.com are to further expand our CIO audience and continue to produce quality interviews, publish solid contributed pieces, and grow our webinar program. I truly believe that we offer a unique product that serves as a resource to key decision-makers. On a personal level, I hope to work toward being a better mom (to my 1-year-old twins) and wife (to my husband Dan), and hopefully, watch the Giants make another run at it.

PerkettPR’s “Influencers Who Inspire” Series Continues with Lindsey Dunn, Editor in Chief for Becker’s Hospital Review

DunnHeadshotOne of PerkettPR’s areas of expertise is servicing clients within the healthcare industry and because of this, we follow the top publications in this exciting industry.  One of our favorite publications that we read religiously is Becker’s Hospital Review.  We are thrilled to share an interview with its Editor in Chief, Lindsey Dunn.

In your former life, you worked in PR. What made you move to journalism and how does your PR experience influence your role in the media?

I worked for a little over two years in advertising and PR before returning to grad school. I made the jump to journalism after grad school. I had always loved writing and it was my favorite part of PR, and when I had the opportunity to take a job (then, as a reporter), that would allow me to write full time, I jumped at it.

I think my experience in PR has shaped how I work with PR people and companies and has made me more open to the role they play in shaping media stories. There are a lot of businesses in the healthcare space that produce (and share with the media) excellent surveys, studies, reports, etc., that we do not have the resources to create on our own. Journalism as we know it is going through a huge transition as we work to create excellent coverage with limited resources. At the same time, you see more active efforts by brands to be known as “thought leaders” through reports they share with the media, and their own custom content. This melding of independent journalism and content marketing worries a lot of people, but my belief is that consumers are smart. We have a journalistic responsibility to 1) make clear the source of content and 2) speak the truth. Most content marketing still abides by this; even it is more promotional than traditional journalism. So my hope is that as we transition to new business models for journalism, independent trade publications like ours will continue to thrive alongside other models.

Favorite Chicago restaurant/bar/dive and why?

I love Brick’s Pizza in Lincoln Park. It has great pizza and an even better beer list. It’s located underground, in a window-less, very old-school setting. It’s actually right next door to a now-defunct bar called The Catacombs. I mention that only so you get a true feel for the place. It’s always packed and they don’t take reservations, but it is a can’t-miss spot in Chicago’s often cold weather. There’s something cozy about going underground in the winter for hot pizza and cold beer. I recommend trying the “Grease Fire,” but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Becker’s Hospital Review publishes a ton of content – how do you keep up?

I don’t! I sure try, but I am certainly not the expert on everything. My role is more to educate and empower our reporters on the voice we want our publication to have and the stories that are important to pursue. The reporters are really the experts on each area they cover. If I have a question on a meaningful use, I know our HIT reporter will have an answer, without looking it up. Same for our M&A reporter, who could probably tell you every transaction in the past year. They are in charge of being experts on the beats they cover, and they, not me, ensure our readers have the most relevant news and feature articles for the areas they oversee.

Of course, I edit and guide their features, we talk about angles, sources, and all those other things, but I’m really more of a mentor that oversees the overall direction of the pieces on the website. I have my hand a bit more directly in the editorial development of our e-newsletters and print issues, but overall, they are the ones ensuring our coverage hits on the most relevant issues.

How has Obamacare impacted Becker’s editorial coverage? Or has it?

It has certainly given us lots to write about! House Republicans, who are now making their 37th attempt to overturn the healthcare reform law, recently put out a report stating that enacting ObamaCare will take 190 million hours per year. The point being, there are a lot of new regulations that have to be created, commented on, revised and released to enact many individual components of the law. We report on each of these rules and analyze how the new regulations contained in the rules could impact hospitals and healthcare providers. It’s an obligation we have to our readers.

ObamaCare also is a catalyst for a lot of the other trends we are seeing in the industry: consolidation, pay-for-performance, unique agreements between providers and payors. Each time a hospital merges, we cover it. Each time a payor starts an accountable care organization, we cover it. There’s certainly a lot for us to be on top of.

Based on your many interviews with hospital administrators, what’s keeping them awake at night?

Without a doubt, it is the challenge of the transition from moving from a fragmented, fee-for-service delivery system to a value-based one. In a fee-for-service system, your doctor is paid for every service he or she provides to you. As we look 5-10 years into the future, it’s more likely your physician will receive a set fee based on your individual risk to oversee care for you for the year. If they keep you relatively healthy and out of the hospital, they make money. If your condition gets worse or isn’t managed properly, they lose money. It’s a whole new business model for hospitals, and they can’t make the shift overnight. I think the concern of CEOs and CFOs of hospitals is how quickly they should shift to this new model, given that insurers still, for the most part, pay on a fee-for-service basis.

What keeps you awake at night?

To be honest, I sleep pretty well. Of course there are the occasional times when I have that running mental list that keeps me turning, but for the most part, I do my best to enjoy my time after I leave the office without stressing about things I can deal with tomorrow. I’m a big fan of “The Energy Project,” and first discovered it when I read an article by its founder, Tony Schwartz, in the Harvard Business Review.  He coaches companies and executives about how closely productivity is linked with getting enough sleep and taking time away from the office to recharge. It’s kind of crazy that this guy has becomes a business guru by simply telling people to stop obsessing over work, but so many people do! For writers, a key part of being great at what you do is being creative. If you’re tired, hungry and at a desk for 12 hours a day, you’re probably not going to be churning out your best work. I encourage our team to leave the office for lunch, take a walk around the block in the afternoon if the weather is nice, and leave at 5 (if their work is done, of course). You can actually be more productive and produce better work if the hours you work are more focused and without distraction.

Have you always worked in healthcare media? Why?

As I mentioned earlier, I came from the PR side, and there I worked on consumer product accounts. Becker’s was my first role in healthcare media. The reason I was able to get my initial job here was due, in part, to some experience I had in grad school editing academic medical papers that were eventually submitted and accepted to peer-reviewed journals.

Despite not actively choosing healthcare media, I couldn’t be happier. I always knew I wanted to work in business media, versus consumer, and healthcare is a subsector of that. I’m lucky to be covering it in such an exciting time. Hospitals are going through transformational change and looking to publications like ours to help keep them abreast of the changes and inform their decision making. Although it’s a several degree leap from what I do to the patient who receives great care, I do believe that the content we put out every day ultimately helps hospitals delivery higher quality, more affordable care.

Biggest pet peeves? Work and personal.

I am a very to-the-point person, so I’m not a huge fan of meetings. Without an agenda (and more importantly a leader that keeps people on point), they sometimes turn into a “let’s talk about everything about this project” fest, and you have your busy writer on deadline who is thinking “this is a waste of my time, I just need to write.” Meetings are sometimes necessary — for example, to share our editorial strategy, goals, provide feedback, etc., but when I go to one that starts getting away from its purpose, it’s something that bothers me.

Personally, I don’t like when people are late. Emergencies arise of course, but I people who are chronically late definitely unnerve me.

You get pitched by PR pros every day – having been on both sides of the equation, do you think you’re more accepting of the PR pitch than others or more critical?

I think I’m friendlier than your average editor when responding to pitches, especially calls. I used to get some really rude voices on the other end back when I was an intern pitching. I too much prefer email, but I at least try to not ruin the day of the person on the other side. I think of my 20-year-old self calling up some middle-aged tech reporter and all the anxiety I felt!

That said, I really wish PR people stood up to their clients more and made a case for smarter pitching, both in terms of angle and targeting. For example, if a product gets an award for being “green,” most outlets don’t consider that newsworthy, yet I get tons of these types of email pitches every week. Companies are paying agencies for their expertise, yet the PR leaders are afraid to say, “Hey, we can draft, revise and go through the approval process with you and your attorneys to write a release on this and then charge you to distribute it on the wire, and then charge you for 15 hours for our AAEs and AEs to pitch it. Or, let’s just have our AE send a quick, informal email or Twitter message to the three or four reporters at the two outlets that actually cover this kind of news. The latter will save you, probably $2,500.” I am making up the number, but you get the idea. I guess it means fewer billings for the agency, but wouldn’t the top companies flock to someone who wasn’t afraid to at least propose this approach to them?

What is next for you for the remainder of 2013?

Professionally, I am focused helping us meet our key growth goals for the year, which are 400,000 visitors per month to our website and 80,000 subscribers to our E-weeklies. We are really close on the website goals, with just about 385,000 visitors last month. So, growing our E-weeklies is a key priority now. Part of our growth is organic, of course, but I am also trying to work with our team here to develop an active social media plan, and also more actively market our brand to healthcare executives. We have a slew of journalists here who really are poised to be thought leaders in the areas they cover, so now we just need to look for opportunities for them to get in front of our audiences in this way.

Personally, I definitely want to take more time to give back. We do quarterly service projects through Becker’s, but I’d like to do more individually. I’ve done mentoring before, and it is so rewarding. I plan to get involved with that again after summer, when the new school year starts. I volunteer for a program that works with at-risk youth specifically on their writing skills, so it’s right up my alley. Working with teenagers on their personal essays is probably some of the most challenging, satisfying editing I’ve ever done.

 

2010: So Far, So Good at PerkettPR

I’m excited to share some good news from our agency – news focused on growth, hard work and expansion, thanks to the dedication of the amazing staff at PerkettPR. We’ve kicked off 2010 with a new attitude – shaking off the cobwebs of 2009 and jumping right into the New Year with a “Best Tech PR” finalist nod from the tech community in January’s Crunchies (co-hosted by GigaOm, VentureBeat and TechCrunch), as well as the recent addition of several new clients across healthcare, technology and higher education. We also expanded our footprint into the Research Triangle region near Raleigh, NC.

Client details are below. More fun facts – including what we’re doing and where we’ll be in 2010 – are in the accompanying video or the full press release.

Some of our new clients include:

HealthLeap(New York, New York) – Bridging the communication gap between doctors and patients to improve care, compliance and practice profitability through free, web-based appointment software.

Northeastern University College of Business Administration– (Boston, Mass.) – Established in 1922, the College of Business Administration provides its students – undergraduate, graduate, and executive – with the education, tools, and experience necessary to launch and accelerate successful business careers.

Norwell Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice(Norwell, Mass.) – Founded in 1920 and the only independent nonprofit home health care agency serving Boston’s South Shore.

Proliphix (Westford, Mass.) – The leading provider of Internet-managed energy control systems.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital – (St. Louis, Mo.) – Founded in 1879, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of the premier children’s hospitals in the United States serving children around the world.

VersionOne– (Atlanta, Ga.) – VersionOne is recognized by Agile practitioners as the leader in Agile project management tools.  By simplifying the process of planning and tracking Agile software projects, they help development teams consistently deliver software faster.

Thanks for all of your continued support. (PS We’re actively recruiting – especially in Mass. and Calif.)

Sermo Named Media Brand of the Year

Congratulations to our client, Sermo, who was named Media Brand of the Year by Medical Marketing & Media. We are particularly excited about this accomplishment because Sermo took a chance in 2006 with PerkettPR – one of the only firms they interviewed that did not have a dedicated healthcare division – and it continues to be a fruitful relationship for both companies. We worked closely with their marketing team all year to spread the word about this one-of-a-kind community for physicians – and helped it to grow to 40,000 doctors and counting.

Sermo continues to revolutionize healthcare. The discussions held, and decisions made, within the community positively impact not only physicians, but the patients they care for and the pharmaceutical companies that want to forge a safer and more productive future through a more efficient exchange of knowledge and resources. Sermo is a Web-based community where physicians share observations from daily practice, discuss emerging trends and provide new insights into medications, devices and treatments.

“And since physicians have never before been able to talk with a unified
voice in such impressive numbers, sharing observations and insight
about treatments, drugs, devices and biologics, we expect Sermo to
continue to rock the pharma marketing world for some time to come.”

We couldn’t agree more! We are extremely proud of this award, thankful for such an interesting and savvy client, and excited to share even more interesting developments about Sermo in the year to come. Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Palestrant, Founder & CEO; Gina Ashe, CMO; Greg Shenk, Director of Communications and the entire team at Sermo! What a year!