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Creating New Lines of Communication for Thought Leadership | Traci Conley

Creating New Lines of Communication for Thought Leadership | Traci Conley | 350

Developing new methods of engagement and outreach for thought leadership during unconventional times.

An interview with Traci Conely about maintaining communication and growing communities during a pandemic.

When you can no longer meet face to face, how do you update vital information with medical professionals and the at-risk patients they serve?

Our guest today is Traci Conley, the Thought Leadership Manager for Standard Imaging, Inc., a company that has become the leading supplier of calibration and quality assurance instruments for healthcare, including a broad range of solutions and support for radiation therapy. Traci is also the host of Out of the Gray, a podcast that looks at the world of Radiation Oncology.

Traci started her role as Manager of Thought Leadership around the same time as the COVID-19 outbreak, which made the traditional means of communications with healthcare professionals and patients nearly impossible. In today’s conversation, we discuss new methods being used by thought leaders in the healthcare field to maintain the spread of crucial information while keeping everyone safe.

Before moving into the role of thought leadership practitioner, Traci worked as a radiation therapist. She shares how her work in the field gives her a unique view of medical processes and communication; a viewpoint that now allows her to help develop practical and effective solutions. This includes building communities to provide open communication, allowing the flow of questions and answers to better the whole

If you are struggling to find new ways to maintain communication, or want to build communities for your industry, this conversation will give you insight about practical steps toward success.

Three Key Takeaways:
  • When unable to meet in person, being able to deliver Thought Leadership through webinars and e-training is essential.
  • Podcasts can provide a much-needed space for experts to share experiences. This is a great way to expand your Thought Leadership presence.
  • When building communities of thought leadership, be careful to share the spotlight, and make sure everyone has a voice.

Join the Organizational Thought Leadership Newsletter to learn more about expanding thought leadership within your organization! This monthly newsletter is full of practical information, advice, and ideas to help you reach your organization’s thought leadership goals.

And if you need help scaling organizational thought leadership, contact Thought Leadership Leverage!




Bill Sherman Thought leadership requires us to take our ideas to scale, and that means people need to encounter our ideas. But there’s a fundamental challenge. Our audiences have limited time and the experts in our organizations. Well, there are also likely incredibly busy. So how do you take knowledge to scale? To help me explore these questions, I reached out to TraciConley, the thought leadership manager with standard imaging. Traci’s career began as a radiation therapist, and she now works for an organization that provides oncology professionals with tools they need to care for cancer patients. So she knows her target audience closely. She’s walked in their shoes. I’m eager to talk with her about the way she’s reaching out to her tightly defined audience and how she’s adapted her approach over the last couple of years. I’m Bill Sherman and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show, Traci.

Traci Conley Hi, Bill. Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure.

Bill Sherman So I want to start with a conversation that relates to audience in deep ways that you have to understand how you meet your audience and where. And I think you’ve got a great story based on standard imaging and the clients that you serve as to how events can change, how you deliver thought leadership. You want to dove into that a little bit.

Traci Conley Absolutely. Especially given the past 18 months, the past two years where the world as a as a unit has been so affected by the pandemic, every ounce of what we do has been affected in some way that leaches into how you address an audience, how you approach people and how you pass information. So in the health care field, I am a radiation therapist by training and now I work with standard imaging as the thought leadership manager. Part of my job is customer engagement and outreach and getting those messages out there. So given the changes that we’ve seen our methodologies to getting this information to the people that need it the most has had to change significantly. So it’s really been magical to watch the health care field as a whole kind of grow and stretch and accommodate for these things. And education, you know, electronic education webinars and the podcast has have been instrumental in getting the message out there in times when we can’t be face to face.

Bill Sherman So let’s explore a little bit further, right? My understanding and you’re working with cancer centers that are dealing with radiation therapy, right? In the old days and education or an exchange of thought leadership might be an in-person event. Correct? Absolutely. And so whether that’s getting together for a lunch or dinner or something like that short presentation of here’s something to think about that was sort of ingrained into that culture for years, if not decades, right?

Traci Conley Absolutely. That’s kind of the way we went about things very much Congresses, conferences, chapter meetings, very much in-person exchange of information.

Bill Sherman And so because your target audience is working with a high risk population?

Traci Conley Absolutely. We work with radiation therapists, radiation oncologist doctors, cancer centers, medical physicists. These are our customers. These are, in many cases, our friends.

Bill Sherman Yes, so let’s talk about that process of adaptation, and let’s dig into how were you making sure because there’s on the business side for standard imaging, there’s a need to make sure this information goes out as well as then there’s a patient need that this information gets heard. So when information channels get disrupted, how do you respond?

Traci Conley That’s a really good question and something that the entire industry has been fighting to answer. I think now for two years. You adjust and bend to what’s required to make sure that the folks get the information. The patients require high quality care. Those, they’re their caretakers. They’re the people that work in the hospitals require the information and the equipment to be able to offer that high quality care. And that’s where we come in. So we’re offering webinars and we’re offering virtual experiences for congresses and things like that to still make sure the information gets disseminated so that the physicians and physicists who are and therapists and of cemeteries, all of who are performing these daily tasks and helping these already immune immunocompromised people receive the highest quality of care. They still get the information they need to be able to do that.

Bill Sherman Now you talked a little bit about the virtual congresses and conferences, right? And I think you’re doing some experimentation within. How do you make people available for questions on a deeper way at the conference? And we were talking earlier about doing video presence at that. You want to talk about how that evolved, maybe because I think that’s a really cool sort of adaptation and we could dig into it.

Traci Conley Absolutely. And I think it really came from a need to provide presence of a of multiple departments from within our organization. So we have the product management team, the marketing teams, the sales teams, all these teams are typically in-person at these congresses and available to speak to the people within our field, face to face and help them gather the information they need. This year, we’re taking a different approach out of regard for safety of the people who then in turn they leave us in a big, busy Congress Hall exhibit hall. And then they go back and they’re treating patients who are immunocompromised and how they have to be careful with. So rather than put them at higher risk, we’ve decided to implement a virtual experience within our in-person experience. So our whole team will be available at these congresses, but they’re going to be available via webcam. So kind of if you’re walking, if you can picture yourself walking through a booth walk, walking through exhibit hall up to a booth, you can reach any member of our team simply by using the computer there at the station and having a chat with him via webcam.

Bill Sherman And I think there’s something that having that team on call rather than everybody standing in a booth together waiting for that one question that you know is coming sometime during the day, you lose a lot of time, both from travel and then being at the booth. And so it’s not only to your point on safety. But it’s more efficient.

Traci Conley Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s 100 percent true. We’re able to take the entire the entire company of the entire corporation gets to go, you know, rather than just a few of us or a select group of 10 20. Go and stand and speak. Now we are all highly accessible. I think the messages that we are here for you. We’re here for your safety. We’re here for your health. We’re here for your well-being and the well-being of your patients. We don’t want to miss an opportunity to engage and to speak and offer that support that is so needed throughout the health care world, from vendors and from different places where information comes. We are just hear from you and say, we’re here for you in a safe way.

Bill Sherman Now you mentioned earlier that you started out as a radiation therapist. And so I’d love to hear a little bit of that journey from radiation therapist to thought leadership manager. How did those steps happen? Because that’s not probably the career path you were thinking you would have when you started radiation therapy. Right? So let’s explore that story.

Traci Conley Absolutely. It is a long journey. It’s an interesting one, for sure. I started out in radiation therapy as a therapist. Absolutely adored it. Anybody out there seeking a career in health care, I didn’t know radiation therapy existed until I got to college. I know some have learned of this field much earlier, but I learned about it in a survey course. And then from there I worked as a clinical radiation therapist for a multiple facets, treating patients, doing some research, doing some publication help things like that for about seven years, and then transitioned into working with a company called Brain Lab as a application trainer and consultant for hardware and software products. And then I transitioned about 18 months ago to maybe just a little less than that to standard imaging as part of the sales team because I was looking to grow and looking to develop a new skill set, looking for four needed some change at the time and looking for some additional education. So jump on board there and then was working through learning that and the idea of a podcast kind of popped up and as a way to almost as a way to disseminate information and reach our folks in our field in the beginning of the pandemic. Just give a platform for people to speak to each other and share stories and share information and kind of give a voice to the insiders in the field there. And one of the most stressful times that we’ve ever encountered. Give them, give them a place to talk. So working through the podcast and the outreach that that came along with that developing yet another new skill set, it really reevaluated my position in sales and it was kind of decided that I would transition into what is now the thought leadership manager role where I focus on engagement and opportunities to build an ambassadorship for the people who rely on us to offer these high quality tools and services. Kind of getting them, getting them out there and giving make giving them a bigger, a bigger spotlight.

Bill Sherman If you are enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about the podcast, please leave a five star review and share it with your friends. We are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major platforms, as well as at Leveraging Thought Leadership dot com. Now you mentioned ambassadorship, and I know that you’ve been doing work on building an ambassadorship program as well. Let’s talk about that because I think that’s a powerful way to take ideas to scale through thought leadership. What are you doing?

Traci Conley So lately, it’s been so fun. Such an amazing experience, the folks that I’m encountering and working with in the field, multiple positions throughout the clinics, admins, you know, the medical physics folks, the physicians, the therapists working to give them a way to communicate with their peers about the success they’re finding in their clinics, using different tools or different software or different practices. So what we’re doing is kind of creating and building one brick at a time. An ambassadorship program to give people a platform and a stage to speak from where they can share their experiences and share their ideas from having used these tools and been a part of implementing these tools in their facilities so they can share their experiences. Good, bad and ugly. They can share what they’re going through and really create that network. There’s already an innate network. Their health care radiation oncology specifically has such a beautiful network of connected people that you know you have a question. You pick up the phone any time of day and you can get an answer from someone you would probably call a friend anywhere and anywhere in the world. But giving that network kind of a little bit more structure and a way to kind of really get out there and share those experiences with these specific tools has been really educational for me. An incredibly phenomenal to watch. And I’m so grateful for those who are willing to or willing to share.

Bill Sherman So you talked about the creation of community and sharing tips like even on software in that. How would you distinguish between what you’re doing for the ambassadorship versus like a user group for software, right? What’s the difference?

Traci Conley I would have to say that I user Group four software would be, in my opinion, when I when I hear that that phrase, that terminology maybe not so niche, maybe not so specific, not so specialized. And when you get when you get radiation oncology, it is a little bit of a niche community. It’s a small group and they have similar struggles across the board every day in their clinics, and they reach out to the producers of the tools and software that they use for answers and sometimes. And I know that I’ve experienced this myself. Sometimes it’s easier and more efficient to reach out to a peer rather than directly to the producer for a for an answer or for some biased free experience by bias free advice. So my part of my goal is to create this network and this community of users who can tap into each other and kind of form their own bonds and make a community where they can get answers that are coming from other people who have direct experience with these, with the same daily issues, same daily struggles and the same daily solutions.

Bill Sherman And so one of the things I think is interesting is creating the space for those conversations and not trying to dominate the space as the organization, but saying, Hey, this is a conversation. We’d like to be part of it, but feel free to talk among yourselves and with us.

Traci Conley Absolutely. I think it creates a genuine back and forth, an opportunity for both sides to truly learn. You know, you can have a story and you can implement that story. But if you’re not willing to listen and hear the feedback and take that feedback and then implement it and use it to create something that they truly want or that they truly need in all, in all reality, I mean that that space is such a learning environment. It’s been really it’s been really beautiful to watch.

Bill Sherman One of the things that I do want to ask is how does your experience as being a practitioner of radiation therapy? Inform how you serve the community. Now.

Traci Conley I think the benefit that I would have from my experiences as being a person in the clinic, a practitioner is that I too have been on the other side of needing something, you know, of wanting something of going through my day to day and having to literally get a skill saw out and build what we needed to perform a specific duty. And having folks come in and offer solutions that there was some thought put into it, but they it’s pretty clear by the solution that’s offered that there wasn’t a whole lot of clinical advice taken into consideration during the manufacturing or the prototyping or the building of these solutions. So understanding from both sides of this world, now that the honest goal is to create devices and software that offer the absolute best for the patients, I also see us as the practitioner where it is good to have that clinical advice when you are building something new or working to create something new, and this platform has offered up the opportunity for us to do just that with not only my voice because I’m one and have a very specific experience, but then opening up the floor to those who would like to share with us. And they have really good ideas and are supporting those good ideas and sharing those ideas back and forth, kind of kicking ideas back and forth. It’s really fun, and it’s integral for the for the successful build of the products that the community really needs.

Bill Sherman So as we begin to wrap up, I want to ask a question. You’ve been in this role now for thought leadership about 18 months, the launch of the podcast, the adaptation of the conferences and Congresses. What advice would you give an earlier version of yourself stepping into that role? So let’s wind the clock back 18 months if you could put the message in the bottle. What would you advise yourself? Just starting out and knowledge as knowledge manager.

Traci Conley Oh, goodness, I would send myself a note that said, be ready for change. Embrace it, though, because while uncertainty is as can be fearful that you know, we’re we really, truly do, I know it’s cliche, but we have nothing to fear but fear itself and pushing this envelope, it needs to be pushed. You know, we need to grow. We need to embrace change. We need to develop as a community and. You know, we need to offer the these platforms for people to share what’s in their minds because there is so much to learn from just being open enough to accept and compile feedback. I guess my I guess my one point of advice would just be, you know, buckle up, get ready for change.

Bill Sherman Well, and that’s the role of leadership in many ways is to be a catalyst for change, either responding to change that has happened or saying we can do better. And so you have to be comfortable with that change. Otherwise, very few people will come along with you on that journey.

Traci Conley I believe that is absolutely true. Seeing opportunities and this is kind of where my mind, I’m so green in thought leadership, I don’t consider myself an expert or, you know, in any way, but I think seeing opportunities where processes can be improved, things can be altered even slightly to make someone’s life a little better. Maybe it’s taking a little bit of extra feedback or taking a little bit of extra time to actually listen to who’s on the other end of your phone? Customer service is number one. I know they say the customer’s always right. Here I am. Just flowing out what the cliche is, but it’s true to an extent. There’s so much to be learned from studying the relationship aspects by through quality, high quality customer service and being a listening ear, being a sounding board for the field. There’s a lot to learn there. And my image personally, I’ve thought leadership is just being able to take those ideas and be that catalyst and offer up a place for this change to happen in a nice way. I, you know, I hate to say it that way, but happen in a in a productive way. An inclusive way. And make sure that that things stay on track.

Bill Sherman So there’s a lot more that I think we could cover, but let’s leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us today, Traci.

Traci Conley Thank you so much for having me, and she has been an absolute pleasure, a joy.

Bill Sherman  If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL Newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website and choose Join our newsletter. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening, and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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