#AskForMary

Mary Free Bed marketing internship reflection – Shannon Hicks

It wasn’t until the middle of my internship that I truly understood what the marketing team at Mary Free Bed does. Of course, their job, on paper, is to develop relationships with community members and advertise the successes of the company. But, they do so much more than that. The marketing team helps past and present patients to examine and appreciate their own unique story. Through videos by Eric, pictures by Tony, and writing by Betsy, the team shares inspiration to people who need their hope and freedom restored. Thanks to social media posts and our website content, people allow themselves to embrace the possibility of miracles, or marycles. And, the marketing team assumes those responsibilities with a heavy, grateful mindset focused on the people whom Mary Free Bed serves.

With a background in non-profit work, I understand the ease at which it is possible to forget the larger cause that one is working towards. But, at Mary Free Bed, I didn’t see that as an obstacle. Everyone at Mary Free Bed is focused on the mission of restoring hope and freedom to people. And, it’s easy to stay motivated when you walk alongside these patients everyday and see the progress that the Mary free Bed staff has helped them achieve.

I feel grateful to have worked alongside those patients, as well as the staff, at Mary Free Bed, all while growing as a marketing professional. As an intern, I was able to reach over 16,900 people with my Facebook posts. On twitter, I wrote to an audience of 2,577. And, on Instagram, I had the opportunity to inspire and educate over 1,798 people. I went into the Grand Rapids community and promoted Mary Free Bed, while improving my communication skills that I’ve been refining in school for the past few years. The Thrive Gala was a particular highlight of my time at Mary Free Bed, as I was part of a team that helped raise thousands of dollars for children with cerebral palsy.

In addition to those major accomplishments during my time at Mary Free Bed, I also learned some basics of videography and editing from an award-winning videographer professional. I wrote articles celebrating Mary Free Bed staff and programs, which were published online. I even wrote my first ever news pitch to national news outlets, asking them to share the success of a Mary Free Bed patient who overcame a life-threatening injury. I began to see the many different aspects of marketing, and the staff mentored me in each area.

While I’m sad to see my internship at Mary Free Bed come to a close, I feel confident that I will be successful as I begin working full-time after graduation in May. Thanks to those at Mary Free Bed, I have gained a deeper understanding of business, marketing, and compassion.

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Mary Free Bed Marketing Internship Reflection – Karlee Tykosky

The basic expectation of an internship is to apply your education, enhance your education and prepare you for graduation from your education.  After completing my internship with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, I can say these expectations were easily exceeded.

My very first day at the hospital, I was blown away by the work environment and employee culture. I was a complete stranger to so many, but every person I encountered that day never failed to welcome me with a warm smile or simple greeting. I knew within hours that this was going to be a life-changing experience—and oh my, it was.

I reflect back on everything I accomplished this summer and it’s impossible to fit it all on paper, but I guess I’ll start with the marketing team… It’s hard not to brag about working in the same room with these incredibly talented, kind-hearted and successful people. There aren’t words even big enough to describe how much I learned from them.

I would have to say, however, the most important thing I learned from this team is that good marketing focuses on the big picture, but great marketing depends on the small details.

For instance: changing ‘discharge’ to ‘graduation’ communicates a warmer vibe; adding that one hashtag may gain us a new follower; an up-close, unique angle makes a photo more eye-catching; embedding that link will direct them straight to the registration page (the small, but mighty list goes on).

I not only enhanced my digital marketing skills, but gained hands-on experiences out in the community as well. I would have never guessed to be doing social on the finish line at the Fifth Third River Bank Run or help judge the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. I met incredible people and progressed as a professional in public relations all while doing remarkably meaningful work.

Working as an intern at Mary Free Bed allowed me to enhance my marketing mind, but also helped shape my character as well. With new experiences comes new challenges and boy, did I doubt myself. I had never attended a press conference or ribbon-cutting before, let alone live stream these events on social media. Everybody could probably see me sweating, but being thrown into the fire surprisingly helped burn away my doubt.

Of course, I failed at times (okay, a lot of times), but that failure would have never allowed me to seek success. I made connections, strengthened my portfolio and gained the confidence I needed to move forward in my career.

Thank you, Mary. You’ll always have a special place in my heart.

Welcome to the Mary Free Bed Marketing Dept. Sarah Pontbriand!

Sarah_PontbriandAs I begin my internship at Mary Free Bed, I am very excited to take as much opportunity as I can! I am headed into my senior year at Grand Valley State University and after having a couple internships in the past, I was determined to find another that would be new, challenging, and something that interests me. Non-profit organizations and the health care industry have always been intriguing to me and I am thrilled to be at Mary Free Bed!

I first heard about the marketing internship at Mary Free Bed from my friend and classmate, Lauren who was the previous marketing intern. We spend a lot of time together as students in campus organizations such as GVSU’s student-run Public Relations firm, GrandPR, and the University’s chapter of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) in which we are both actively involved in. Lauren talked highly of her internship at Mary Free Bed, about how awesome the marketing team is, and let us know that they were looking to hire a new intern. I knew a little bit about Mary Free Bed at the time because Ben, New Media and Communications Specialist at Mary Free Bed, spoke to students on the health care Public Relations panel at our 2017 PRSSA Regional Conference right here in Grand Rapids. Hearing about how rewarding, yet different than any other the industry is had sparked my interest early on.

When I initially think about Mary Free Bed, things that come to mind are nurses, doctors, patients, and rehabilitation. Though all of those things are a big part of it, learning about “behind the scenes” of an organization is my favorite part. Even going to new employee orientation, I had the opportunity to see the values of Mary Free Bed, the standards for different employees, and some of the efforts that go into the reputation of the hospital. Getting to experience more of what goes into an organization and hospital like Mary Free Bed is something that is not easily understood from the surface, but makes a gigantic difference to the impression it leaves on its visitors.

For the duration of this internship, I have high expectations for myself. I hope to gain insight on the marketing aspect of the health care industry, discover more of what I would like to do, and build relationships with colleagues and the community. I am determined to apply the skills that I have learned throughout years in the classroom and my experiences as well as learn many more things that I can apply in the future.

I am a PR geek! I love getting the community engaged, putting together campaigns and processes to do so, and keeping up with social media having target markets in mind. All of those things come with a lot more enjoyment when it is for something that I am passionate about. The sense of community and care for patients that Mary Free Bed carries with it is so exciting and I am PUMPED to be a part of it! Restoring hope and freedom will never get old.

 

Welcome to Mary Free Bed Lauren Staff!

LaurenStaff.jpgThrough my first three years studying advertising and public relations at Grand Valley I was dead set on finding internships and a career at a public relations firm where I would work with various clients every day. This summer, when I visited a patient at Mary Free Bed it hit me that I want to work somewhere that puts hope and faith in individuals the way Mary Free Bed does, and where truly meaningful relationships are built. While visiting this patient I got to see the way Mary Free Bed changes individuals’ lives and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.

Today is my first day, and after meeting everyone and walking around the campus for almost two hours it was made clear that I am going to get a valuable experience out of this internship. After only the first day I can tell that all the employees stand strong behind Mary Free Bed’s mission, and feel passionate about the work they do. Over the next three months I want to strengthen my writing skills, learn more about health care, and gain the passion that Mary Free Bed employees have. But what I am most looking forward to, is building relationships with co-workers, other interns, and patients.

During my interview, Betsy (Media Relations/Writer) told me that the best days are the ones that she gets to go into the hospital and interact with patients and their families. Ben  (New Media/Community) told me stories about patients that he has been able to create relationships with that last even after that individual left Mary Free Bed. In marketing storytelling goes a long way, and the patient stories that are told by Mary Free Bed are truly amazing. It’s because of these strong relationships that Mary Free Bed is able to be communicate with everyone in an authentic, hopeful, and emotional way. Just by watching the patient story videos that are posted on Facebook, it is evident that Mary Free Bed gives patients an undeniable level of hope that anyone would be proud to say they helped provide…I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?!

Whenever I try to give a succinct explanation of what public relations professionals do to a friend or family member, it always end up as someone thinking all I do is “play” on social media all day. Yes, social media is a huge part of marketing and PR, but I know that there is much more to it than just that. In an internship or job it’s so easy to get lost in the busy work and day to day tasks, but I think this internship will show me that the work I enjoy doing can actually make a difference in the world and in individuals’ lives. I know these next three and a half months are going to fly by but that they are also going to be full of amazing, unique, and fulfilling experiences. WOOO!

The Ghost Inside drummer asked for Mary…and is ready for the future!

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One of the most amazing stories to come out of Mary Free Bed in my three years at the rehabilitation hospital…and there are a TON of wonderful stories every day. The band The Ghost Inside was involved in a horrible bus accident in the Fall of 2015, each band member has had their own challenges and rehabilitation to face since. This video kicks off a new series as we follow Andrew Tkaczyk and his progress to drumming at a rock show once again.

#DontStopBelieving – 2013 Mary Free Bed Leg Lamp Holiday Campaign

What a campaign we had, it is truly amazing to hear how many people LOVED and recognized  the Mary Free Bed elves and “special” leg lamp. Below you will find a few videos and links to blogs from the communications and external relations staff that tell you a little more about what we did. Leg Lamp, Elves, Alumni (Patient) Stories and more.

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I dressed up as a Mary Free Bed elf with my good friend and co-worker Eric Miller for the Grand Rapids Santa Parade. CLICK HERE to see the Storify new media blog.

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