How Mission Health responded and learned from its 2008 social-media-fueled crisis (video)

WNCChoice offers a fascinating look behind the scenes at Mission Health as the staff and board dealt with a social-media-fueled crisis in 2009, and from that challenge learned to embrace social media. This is a video of a one-hour Power Point presentation — a “case study and lessons learned” — by Janet Moore and Lu Anne Stewart, given to conference attendees at the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development in September 2011.

Moore explains how a 2008 public-relations crisis led Mission to launch a full-scale analysis of social media’s influences on their company and community, and from that, how they developed a set of social-media policies and procedures, created a strategy and a plan, and then trained their staff to engage on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Below are some excerpts from Janet Moore’s presentation:
Long before Hosni Mubarak was brought down by social media, our CEO was brought down by social media in our community. We have a largely independent medical staff, which played a part.

We found ourselves reacting to a social-media crisis that took us totally by surprise.

In the beginning, there was a community blog, Ashvegas … run by a journalist [Jason Sandford]. The year 2009 is when all this blew up. Some physicians were extremely unhappy with the hospital. They figured out how to use Ashvegas to … air our dirty linen.

The whole event really put Ashvegas on the map. ….

What he put up was a letter from the chairman of the board to our 750-person medical staff. One trigger event that got physicians riled up: One of the trauma surgeons was asked to leave. All his letters showed up on Ashvegas. We couldn’t talk about it because it was a personnel matter. Basically, 14 upset physicians got their argument up on Ashvegas.

How do you turn lemons into lemonade? We convinced the board to do a social-media audit, to look at what was being said about Mission on Twitter and Facebook. We identified leading posters, commenters. We analyzed the trending topics to see where we could jump in.


Social media is not going away. You have to figure out how to embrace it and use it to your advantage.

There are some people we’re going to have to drag kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Don’t worry about them; go with the ones who are enthusiastic.

We tapped into the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. I strongly recommend them.




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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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3 thoughts on “How Mission Health responded and learned from its 2008 social-media-fueled crisis (video)

  1. Jeff Fobes

    Ashvegas has a post up about the video, along with some interesting points.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: the part I played was simple. I listened, and I provided a community forum to air the issues. That was it. But sometimes, that’s enough.

    I hope the community knows that I remain open and willing to listen to anyone. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone has an axe to grind. But by offering a little transparency, lending an ear, we can work through our issues. …

    The video, as well as a much shorter video of excerpts that aim to make Moore look bad by taking some of her comments out of context, are posted at, a website run by four doctors groups upset about how Mission has been operating in WNC.

  2. D. Dial

    The woman whose condescending message about hillbillies and Mission being a 100 pound gorilla monopoly has just resigned. So much for social media savvyness.

  3. Jeff Fobes

    Via Twitter
    @RussBowenNews13 at 7:42pm: Janet Moore resigns position at Mission Hospitals amid controversial comments.
    @RussBowenNews12 at 7:43pm: Mission says her comments at a recent presentation to a professional audience were ill-advised

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