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A Look Inside Emory Healthcare’s Storytelling System

Nov 16, 2023

This article was written by Jessica Levco, a freelance healthcare writer who covered the 27th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) for Greystone.Net. image of HCIC23 logo

The content machine is hungry.

And even if you have a small team of content marketing “chefs,” you’ve got to figure out how to feed it.

At the 27th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC), Laura Kuechenmeister (whose German last name means either “kitchen master” or “master baker,” depending on who you ask), assistant director of content marketing at Emory Healthcare, shared what she and her four-person content marketing team (with no full-time writer) learned about building an effective strategy, regardless of their department’s size.

Reuse Content

When the team did a content audit, they noticed that one piece of content typically stayed in one spot.

“Maybe we put a piece of content on our blog and Facebook, but never shared it again,” Kuechenmeister says. “Or we produced a patient story for a direct mail piece, but it never got shared on social media or our website.”

The team had a big archive of content, but no real plan on how to re-purpose it or re-fresh it. Collaboration and weekly meetings were key to making sure content could be spread throughout the organization’s marketing channels. They also mark observances and awareness dates to guide their content calendar. Now, it’s common for one blog to be re-purposed into three to six different pieces of content.

Promote Content on Owned Channels

The team was spending time and money to create content. Now, it was time to promote it. Otherwise, what was the point of writing it?

“For example, our ‘Top Docs’ announcement had always been published on the Emory University News Center website, but not on our consumer-facing website,” Kuechenmeister says. “We started to modify announcements like this to make it more appropriate for our audience. We also invested in a small promotional budget to boost the posts that are performing well.”

Use Data

Kuechenmeister is a wordsmith, but she relied on numbers to guide her storytelling journey.

“We looked at search volume and what people were looking for in searches related to key topics,” Kuechenmeister says. “We also looked at our competitors to see what they were publishing and how it was performing. Then, we analyzed our performance. We wanted to see how many people were clicking through newsletter articles, how many people were engaging with us on social media and how many minutes viewers spent on the content.”

Create Content Worth Reading

“5 things you need to know about diabetes.”

“There’s a place for these types of headlines, but that’s not where we wanted to spend our energy with a small team,” Kuechenmeister says. “Your hospital has amazing stories to tell about care teams and patients. Tell the stories that make you stand out.”

For example, she encouraged attendees to take chances with long-form, narrative content. Here’s an example of a 2,000+ word story she wrote about a woman who climbed Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States, after undergoing 15 cranial surgeries.

Not only did the story garner 2,000 views on Emory Healthcare’s blog, but it was also valuable to colleagues at Emory University — the story was republished in fundraising appeals and Emory Medicine magazine.

Another story about hair straighteners netted more than 4,800 page views in its first two months with readers spending an average of six minutes on the story. 

“Deeper stories offer opportunities to explore research, innovation and human elements,” Kuechenmeister says. “We have monthly editorial meetings to generate new story ideas and discuss upcoming projects with colleagues outside of our team.”

Analyzing the results

It has been almost a year since the team changed its editorial process, along with boosting posts that performed well organically. Due to these tweaks, Kuechenmeister has seen results.

The system’s flagship consumer-facing website,, has seen an increased traffic of 25%. Time spent on this site has also increased to 17%. The reach on Instagram has also gone up 65%.

“Having a formula and defining the rules we have for content creation is like working with a basic recipe,” Kuechenmeister says. “Once it’s perfected, you can change it, add new ingredients and experiment. For us, it took writing down our measurements and processes to understand where we wanted to go next.”

  • Digital Marketing
  • content planning
  • Content Strategy
  • HCIC23
  • storytelling