PR Rock Stars: Boston Scientific’s Amanda Gebhard
You know how when you meet some people you can just tell they’re going to be a big deal some day. That’s how you feel when you meet Amanda Gebhard. And I’m quite sure that feeling will pay off in the years ahead (you watch!). She’s currently in a social role over at Boston Scientific, but I think the comms/marketing world has much more in store for this young woman. Let’s hear more from this PR Rock Star:
You’re a senior communications specialist-social media for Boston Scientific. Since social positions vary widely from company to company, what does your typical day look like?
I would say my job is roughly 60% content (strategy and execution), 25% analytics/reporting and 15% community management.
Here’s what a typical day might look like for me:
- Check email, news and social feeds
- Read daily alerts and monitor brand accounts twice daily for comments, mentions, etc. – take action as needed
- Content work
- Evaluate incoming content requests, edit copy, assist with legal/reg reviews
- Draft posts, work with brand team on visual assets, send posts through legal/reg review, schedule or publish
- Develop content strategies for larger campaigns/initiatives
- More meetings
- Pull data and create report for listening, campaigns, etc. (not daily but at least once or twice a month)
- If time, make progress on longer-term projects
In your six-year career you’ve worked for three health care companies. In those six years, what have you learned about working in social in a highly regulated industry?
While each sector of healthcare has different regulations, the processes – and challenges – are mostly the same across the board. Many healthcare companies take a very conservative stance when it comes to social content, which is understandable. But it can sometimes hinder innovation and creativity, and it definitely creates time and work. However, as you build trust with your legal and regulatory teams and learn what their biggest concerns are, you can start to form partnerships and forge a path forward. It definitely takes time, though.
I would also add that there is still SO much gray area in healthcare regulations when it comes to social media. The regulations can’t keep pace with the technology, so it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Working in social for a health care company is decidedly less “sexy” than working for companies like Target, General Mills or Best Buy. Why do you continue to choose health care over other industries?
It goes without saying that healthcare is rarely (if ever) on the cutting edge of social and digital media – especially with larger orgs. So if your goal is to do cool, exciting work that makes for good case studies, healthcare probably isn’t right for you. But if you enjoy interacting directly with patients and customers, and you want to work for a company that’s making a tangible difference in people’s lives, healthcare could be a good fit.
Aside from the meaningful work aspect, healthcare is also a thriving industry (especially here in the Twin Cities). And I’m personally very interested in the intersection between health and technology – I see lots of potential there.
What’s the biggest trends you’re seeing in social media when it comes to health care marketing right now?
Surprisingly, live video seems to be an emerging trend in healthcare. One organization doing a lot with this is the Mayo Clinic. They host regular Facebook Live Q&A sessions on various medical topics. I think this is a great way to connect with and educate patients in a more authentic, interactive way.
Influencer marketing is another trend that’s gaining traction in medical communities. According to CDW Healthcare, 87% of physicians ages 26-55 (and 65% ages 56-75) are active on social media. Some have built significant personal brands and are very influential within their networks.
Paid social is a pretty large topic of conversation as well. It’s increasingly important for all industries, but it’s particularly complex in healthcare due to evolving regulations and platform advertising rules.
You volunteer your time with Social Media Breakfast as a community manager, and have since 2014. What have been the primary benefits of donating your time to this organization?
Volunteering with SMBMSP has been one of the smartest career moves I’ve made. Aside from the obvious benefit of learning from other social media professionals, here are a couple of the benefits I’ve seen:
- Connections – SMBMSP has vastly expanded my network, and I regularly stay in touch with people I’ve met there.
- Resume building – Volunteering with an industry group looks great on your resume. Before I accepted my position with Boston Scientific, my involvement with SMBMSP came up in nearly every interview I had with every company.
What are the biggest skill gaps you see amongst today’s social media professionals?
One of the major gaps I’ve seen lately relates to human resources, of all things. Whether it’s employee relations issues that surface on social media or talent acquisition social strategies, there is a clear disconnect between the teams that typically work on social media (in marketing or communications) and HR. If HR is at all integrated into the social strategy, there needs to be a resource that understands both the discipline and the medium enough to guide both teams.
Also, as a counter point, I would actually argue that there are too many expectations placed on social media professionals. We’re expected to be writers, designers, photographers, videographers, project managers, community managers, customer service agents, marketers, crisis communicators, recruiters and analysts. Those jobs require vastly different skill sets, yet to some degree, companies expect it all from one person. They’re getting a heck of a deal.
You mentioned at the last SMB that you’d love to get your hands on some Snap Spectacles. How do you see brands adopting this new technology in coming months/year?
As cool as Spectacles are, I honestly don’t see most brands adopting them since they only show one individual’s point of view and they only work with one platform – a platform that many brands (aside from media) have been slow to join. But I do think they’re a great proof of concept that will lead to a more “brand-friendly” product – perhaps one that isn’t tied to a single platform or device (like Samsung’s Gear VR) or even a single perspective. I think the immersive, interactive experience of VR is here to stay, though it will evolve, but I predict the “wearable” VR trend won’t stick around.
For years, I’ve said there are two things I will not talk about online: politics and religion. I’ve walked myself back on the former recently, but I noticed that you don’t hold back in talking about your religious beliefs. Can you talk a little about why and the role your faith plays in your life?
First, I understand and respect why many people choose not to talk about religion online, because it’s very easy to misinterpret or take things out of context. But my faith is a large part of who I am, and I’ve made the personal decision to show up online the same way I do in person. I do think there’s a right and wrong way to talk about your faith, especially on social media, but I don’t believe in avoiding a topic altogether simply because some people may not agree with it. Also, I’ve found that it opens doors to more meaningful conversations and relationships, and that alone makes it worth it to me.
Like me, you’re a South Minneapolis resident. Best place to live in the city! I’m curious: What are your favorite restaurants and/or coffee shops on the south side?
South Minneapolis is absolutely the best place to live – I love it here. There are SO many good restaurants and coffee shops; it’s hard to pick my favorites. But here are a few spots I keep going back to:
- Wise Acre Eatery (locally sourced food and giant, thick-but bacon)
- The Lowry (chicken and waffles – enough said)
- Red Cow (I’ve tried most of the menu and have yet to be disappointed)
- Five Watt Coffee (fantastic coffee without the crowds of Spyhouse)