[Video] Tanya Andreadis of UCLA Health on Flexibility as a Marketing Strategy During COVID-19

Posted on August 17, 2020 by in Digital Strategy, Healthcare/ Hospitals

What Did You Learn? Episode 10

Marketing teams can accomplish amazing things when they’re laser-focused and feel a sense of purpose. It also helps having leadership that gives the green light to share the right messaging.

That’s one of the learnings from Chief Marketing Officer Tanya Andreadis, of UCLA Health, during the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.

“Learning how to be nimble is a strategy in itself,” said Tanya. “We’re really working as a team to hardwire those abilities…how do we make sure we have a culture of people who are…willing to say I do whatever it takes?”

Watch this episode of “What Did You Learn?” to hear more about Tanya’s marketing insights from the coronavirus pandemic — as well as what she hopes will last for years to come.

Ahava: Hi, I’m Ahava Leibtag, welcome back to “What Did You Learn?” I am so excited to have Tanya Andreadis, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at UCLA Health. Tanya, welcome.

Tanya: Thank you for having me.

Ahava: Okay, so we’ve been here for 700 days, and in those 700 days did you take up any new hobbies or bake anything fun?

Tanya: Oh, my gosh. You know, I have been working nonstop, so I have no new hobbies. I, maybe eating is my new hobby, unfortunately, that’s it, though.

Ahava: Quarantine 20 are real.

Tanya: Yes. Exactly.

Ahava: Um, it’s good stress reliever. Everybody I know started making sourdough, including myself. But then after I, like, started the starter and started baking the bread, I was, like, I better not do this. This might have not been like a well thought-out idea.

Tanya: Yeah, I never I heard about the sourdough thing, but I never got into it.

Ahava: All right. And have you learned any TikToks with your kids?

Tanya: You know, I’ve watched a lot of TikToks. We actually did some UCLA Health TikToks and I’m trying to get my kids to do those with me. Although they think they’re kind of nerdy, but I think they’re good. So we’ll see. There’s still hope yet.

Ahava: What do you wish you had known um, at the beginning of this?

Tanya: I honestly really wish I would have known it was gonna last so long. I and, um just the rapid pace that the information was changing. Um, I don’t know that it would change what you tell people or what you would want them to expect. But maybe if we all knew the same reality, maybe, um, we’d be able to better say OK, what do we need to cope with this? I mean, the changing nature of everything.

And then, of course, like all of the things that happened socially in between, you know, with COVID and then, you know, the racism issues and Black Lives Matter and the riots. And it was just a lot to handle. I don’t know, honestly, if we could have predicted it, what good it would have done, though. So you’re right.

Ahava: You know, you have a unique perspective. You’re the chief marketing officer of a major healthcare system, and you’re looking at what’s going on in your city around you. And so obviously, you know, California shuts down almost completely right away. You have thousands of people you need to communicate with, both employees, patients. How did you even sort of wrap your head around what you needed to do first as a leader?

Tanya: We’re really fortunate. We have a phenomenal CEO and leadership team, and they instantly said, you know, we’re gonna put this structure in place. I know everybody went to a command center structure. But we met every day. Um, we had, I was probably for several months on, like, five hours of COVID calls a day, which is just insane. But a lot of it was with my team as well. We had frequent touch bases, a lot of check-ins, a lot of like, you know, this is what we’re doing. We’re gonna get through this together. We have an important role here, sort of reinforcing to the team that you know what, we’re communicators, and not only internally or people looking to us with what’s going on, but like the world was kind of looking to us like, what do we do? And so I think that really made the team feel like, um empowered and maybe better about the situation because they felt like they could do something about it.

I am fortunate to have a leadership team that values communications and marketing, but this brought a whole other lens to it. It was critical, and we started doing things like communicating to our patients in mass emails and mass communications for the first time ever. And it was like people didn’t even think we could do that before. So all of a sudden it was like opening up all these doors of ways to communicate that became now, like, oh, a necessity.

You know, um, and I think the power of words, the power of frequency, the power of simplicity. I’ve read several things that you post like how complicated these concepts, social distancing. Um, you know, it’s like what? So, I think that knowing that like you have to communicate in the way that people understand your words simply in a time that they might be totally panicked. People knew that we were the team to look at, you know, look for that kind of advice, and it was a difficult, it’s not an easy thing to do.

Ahava: No, it’s really not. I mean for the first time the entire world actually understands how terrifying it is to go through a healthcare crisis with not enough information that you can understand. People trust the information sources that they trust and there’s this blurring of, like what’s science and what’s real and so even more important is the way that we communicate as clearly as possible.

I know it’s probably hard to solidify it down to like one thing that you’ve learned. But what to you is one of major takeaways that you really sort of think about now and you think, wow?

Tanya: What this reinforced, I mean, it’s not something that I didn’t know before, but it’s something that I hadn’t lived before and didn’t really know in this way that when you have a sense of purpose and you have focus, how much like a group of talented people can truly accomplish and that, you know, I’ve always felt that marketing departments, particularly in healthcare, are just so stretched in so many different directions, and that that lack of focus makes it hard for people to do really remarkable things. And we have, we accomplished some things that have just blown me away.

I mean, it seemed really impossible. And it’s because we were all focused. There was a sense of purpose. And I think that trying to keep that focus will be really challenging as we start to. I mean, even now we’re in reset times, and I I want to hold on to that, um as much as possible and try to find new ways to work where we can have focused times where we can have really, we have these amazing people, and it just, they just thrive that way, so.

Ahava: Yeah, it’s like you wanna you know, they say pressure makes diamonds, but you don’t want to put that kind of constant pressure on people because eventually they’re gonna burn out. So, the question how do you maintain a sense of pressure?

You talked about focus and I thought that was really interesting. Did you have, like, a phrase that you would say to everybody? Or did you use any sort of queue to say to people like, let’s turn our gaze back to what we have to do? Did you have a roadmap? What kept you in that laser like focused place?

Tanya: When we started to see what was happening around us we made a decision very quickly to be present. Where a lot of people were hesitant and we didn’t know what to say. Health, healthcare people in general just didn’t know what to say yet. And we just said, OK, we’re gonna be OK with the fact that we don’t know what to say. We’re going to be present and helpful. And we created a campaign, Team LA, which is my background. And team LA was all about working together as a team to overcome the hardship and that I think that concept really did it was, it became not just what we’re telling the world, you know, work together. We can get past this, but really also what we were telling each other. So that was the focus. The focus really was Team LA for a while and how, and it was all about how can we help people? How can we help people get through this? How can we make people feel better? What do we do? And I think every day we all woke up on the team like, how are we gonna use this platform?

We got like an extraordinary. I mean, it was like, I think last time that it was eight ,over 800 million impressions on this campaign, which is like, you can’t wrap your mind around right? And a lot of community support. So it was that level of focus and everybody saying every day, what can I do to help? And it evolved and evolved really nicely. And, you know, my leadership team let us get out there with messaging and this whole Team LA concept just kind of created out of nowhere.

Ahava: Yeah. OK, so you’re dealing with COVID-19, you’re on five hours of COVID calls. You’ve come up with this great campaign. It speaks to unity. It speaks to teamwork. And then the race riots start happening. Now, where’s the focus go? Like, are you thinking to yourself, I can’t. What? Did you take a lot of breaths? Did you drink a lot of wine?

Tanya: It was like a kick to the chest. It was so sad for so many people. Um, and it did feel like are you kidding me? Like we’re barely surviving here. It’s tough to get a big organization like UCLA Health, which is a part of UCLA which is a part of the University of California. You know, all these layers to agree on, like, what’s our positioning here? And how do we make sure that we’re, we’re careful and thoughtful and honest and, um, finding the right words for all those things. That, I think that was, that the hardest part as a communicator and it still is, honestly.

Ahava: So what did you offer? Like, how did you get the messaging to be thoughtful and to be on point with the things that you’re saying?

Tanya: Yeah, I think that the hardest part about that was you very quickly had to be sort of, um, to self-evaluate as an organization to say, what are we not doing that we should be doing? Um, and I think that there was a sensitivity to having people come out and say, yeah, Black Lives Matter, but then not doing anything about it. We have, ah, leadership team again they’re, like, very action-oriented and not, don’t want to talk a lot of words and fluff. And so the feeling from the top down was, we will say something when we have something substantive to offer, which I’m really proud because they have really started to offer really great change.

Um, we started, you know, really talking about addressing health inequity and and how that’s a really important topic. More than what we did then, there’s a sense now that we can’t just let this die. We have to keep focusing on this, which is what I’m proud of because I agree. You can’t let somebody’s life be in vain, many people’s lives be in vain. You really do have to, to be able to look in the mirror and then put action in to place. And all of the University of California has done that.

Ahava: All right, so we’re sitting at a conference in two years from now. We’re not wearing masks We’re drinking some great wine, great California wine. What is the thing you say to me? You say, you know what Ahava, I learned this during corona and I’m never gonna let it go.

Tanya: I think it’s, um honestly, I thought about it a lot, and I know we typically like as, just as people to have like, a roadmap to follow and to say, OK, this is what we’re gonna do, and times like this completely like, turn that upside down. And I think what I learned that I never want to go back on is learning how to be nimble. You know, in that, like, that’s a strategy in itself. And it’s not, it’s easy to say, but it’s not easy to do. And so we’re really working as a team to start to, like hardwire those abilities to be nimble, like, if you have to pivot, you know what are we gonna do? How do we get? How do we re-align teams? How do we make sure that we have a culture of people who are not like I don’t do this, I do this? And instead we have people who are really willing to say I do whatever it takes.

Um, and so there’s lots of you know there’s a recruitment aspect of that, there’s a culture. There’s, um, a reinforcement of those values. And I think that’s one thing that we’ll never go back on, because we were able to move pretty quickly and be nimble. And I think that that’s really why our communications were successful.

Ahava: Thank you, Tanya, for being here it was really great to have you.

Tanya: Yeah. Thank you.

Ahava: Thanks for your wisdom for everybody. Yeah, thank you so much.

Tanya: Ditto, thanks for all of your great posts. Keep putting them out there.

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About Ahava Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag, MA

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 20 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She... More >