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The UNC department of medicine has received an “Award of Excellence” and “Best of Category” for a Chair’s Corner podcast series.

The UNC department of medicine has received an “Award of Excellence” and “Best of Category” for a Chair’s Corner podcast series.

Robb Kehoe and Kristen Hendrickson in the recording studio.

The department was recognized during the 2018 North Carolina Public Relations Society of America (NCPRSA) InSpire Awards. Held May 17 at the Capital City Club in Raleigh, the annual event recognizes the best in regional public relations and communications. Joel Curran, UNC’s vice-chancellor for communications, was keynote speaker for the program. Entries with top scores were recognized in 45 award categories, submitted by agencies, corporations, and other organizations across the state.

InSpire AwardProduced in early January, 2017, Pieces of the Picture reflects the rise in autoimmune disease and the invisible conditions that often require patients to make multiple trips to the doctor before ever receiving a diagnosis. Chair’s Corner creator/producer Kristen Hendrickson had experienced this in her own life. Podcast host and department chair Dr. Ron Falk had long studied autoimmune kidney disease and ANCA vasculitis. They planned a series that could help people understand autoimmune diseases more broadly by drawing attention to experts across the department.

“We were excited to see the series recognized, and we know that it has already helped many patients who were looking for this information,” said Hendrickson, a graduate of UNC’s School of Journalism who is currently working on her master’s degree. “Our hope is that it can help many more people who may be experiencing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases or may have been given a diagnosis.”

Award Entry – A Design Thinking Approach

Visually depicted by a tangram puzzle, Pieces of the Picture explained how the immune system goes awry and mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, which can lead to conditions like lupus, thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Like an extension of a doctor’s visit, the series presented information to targeted audiences, with multiple objectives: to drive visitors to the department website for education and generate awareness on social media, while also generating interest in the podcast platform.

Content strategies for the series centered around empathy and design thinking, beginning with basic education and an overview of eight diseases, followed by a patient perspective, before a final episode on coping strategies and support.

Reaching Patients in Their Communities

Each episode was promoted during key timeframes for disease awareness months, including autoimmune awareness, IBS, lupus, MS and hepatitis. The series was also shared by disease support groups and national organizations, and partnerships helped connect content with targeted audiences.

In the end, Chair’s Corner podcasts experienced a 517% increase in web traffic compared to the same time frame in 2016. All episodes were shared by at least one support group, and to date, web site traffic has increased by 247% since the series was introduced. Total impressions, including social media, were estimated to be more than 3.2 million.

Podcast Participants and Supporters

The department of medicine would like to thank the following people from across the department who participated: Meghan Free, PhD, Patrick Nachman, MD, Millie Long, MD, MPH, Ana Felix, MD, Saira Sheikh, MD, Jama Darling, MD, Beth Jonas, MD, R. Balfour Sartor, MD, Deepa Kirk, MD, and Delesha Miller Carpenter, PhD, MSPH.

The department also thanks sound engineer Robb Kehoe in the UNC School of Medicine’s recording studio, and Bradd Pavur from the division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology/Thurston Arthritis Research Center, for their contributions to the project.

“We are delighted by this recognition as we leverage the Chair’s Corner to introduce the depth and breadth of expertise at our leading institution,” said Falk. “The physicians featured are vital to who we are as a department, serving the people of North Carolina. We thank them for allowing us to spotlight their expertise.”

Pieces of the Picture, is available for download on iTunes and Sound Cloud. It can also be accessed from the department of medicine website here. Listeners can choose to hear full-length tracks or listen to specific topics from shorter tracks.

Chair’s Corner Podcast

The Chair’s Corner continues to provide educational content for listeners with recent podcasts about food allergy, organ transplant, and HIV. A new series focused on genetic diseases will be released early this summer.