Starting in 1994, Helen Reilly spent eighteen years as a communicator for The Credit Valley Hospital – including five particularly fulfilling years as Hospital Publicist. According to Helen, she developed unique expertise from her work in an environment that was very lean, but dynamic and open to innovation.
“I was able to do things differently than counterparts in other community hospitals in Ontario,” she explains. “Our team embraced the use of media such as video to achieve unique reach into the community.” For example, Helen worked with her colleagues in the hospital’s Media Services department on a quarterly news magazine show, where she was the host, to support the organization’s strategic goals.
In 2012, Helen joined Region of Peel Public Health as the Communication Specialist responsible for supporting the Communicable Disease and Environmental Health Divisions. “At Region of Peel Public Health, programs and initiatives are based on the best available evidence. In turn, communication activities to support programs and initiatives are based on evidence, supported by literature reviews by librarians and analysis by epidemiologists,” explains Helen.
“As a communicator, it’s often difficult to measure success; having access to the evidence is reassuring since I can be confident I’m working within a proven framework to successfully reach our audience,” she says. “There are no shots in the dark. We know how and why we are delivering a message and we know how we are going to measure its effectiveness.”
Helen’s role involves providing content experts such as nurses, health promoters and other internal clients with communications support. Helen provides key message development, media relations, web strategies, social media support and other unique approaches leveraging vehicles such as web-radio and initiating partnerships to reach Peel’s diverse audiences with public health messages.
Helen has also volunteered for The Healing Cycle Foundation – a volunteer-driven organization committed to increasing awareness and improving access to palliative care services in Canada – for the last six years. As part of her work with the Foundation, Helen is focused on the Kids4Kids initiative specifically for Emily’s House: the first hospice for children with life-limiting illness in Toronto and only the sixth in Canada.
Helen describes her greatest strength as her ability to ‘connect the dots’. “At Region of Peel Public Health, I’m able to connect new ideas, new media and new vendors back to the proven communication strategies we are implementing. My ability to bring something new to the table is readily embraced.”
“The most valuable lesson that I’ve learned over time is that authenticity is essential in all communications – professional and personal. Authenticity is what permits me to embrace passion in my work and to share that passion in a way that engages others.”
Willing to share your story as a non-profit marketer or communicator? Contact Marlene at firstname.lastname@example.org.