Helmetless Practices: How Behavior Change Strategy Is Paying Off For The UNH Football Team

Because JJ&W has counseled the Brain Injury Association of NH for a number of years, we’ve gotten very familiar with the concussion issue – it has certainly been in the spotlight with triggering events like the death of Junior Seau of the San Diego Chargers and more recently, the movie “Concussion”.

Of course, any social problem involving behavior change is of interest to us…but I was particularly fascinated by the approach UNH Kinesiology Professor Erik Swartz took with “Helmetless Tackling Training” or HUTT, pilot-tested on the UNH football team.  Swartz, using the “Head Health Challenge II” research grant funded by the NFL, Under Armour and General Electric, worked with the UNH football coaching staff to incorporate a tackling drill, with half of the players wearing helmet… the other half, not.

Head impact sensors worn by all the players collected data on the impacts.  The question:  would removing helmets cause players to adjust their tackling technique and build muscle memory that would result in a safer tackling technique and fewer head injuries going forward?

The results from the 2014 football season:  a decrease in head impacts of almost 30% among those who participated in the helmetless drills – in practices and games where helmets are worn. In the words of Schwartz:  “this is the first study out there to really focus on changing behavior to mitigate risk rather than finding ways to accommodate it.”

Breakthrough thinking, and the next steps will be developing appropriate training for players at the high school level and below – those audiences, and their behaviors, need to be studied and carefully considered first.

Many lessons to be learned for public relations practitioners as they design behavior-change programs for their clients!

Robin Schell/rschell@jjwpr.com

Issues Anticipation for Healthcare Institutions

There are a wide variety of issues that can cause organizations significant heartburn — if not outright damage — and occasionally, destruction.

It is the role of the public relations practitioner to conduct an ongoing scan of the environment (from both an internal and external perspective) to predict and prepare for these issues before they develop into crisis situations.

It is essential to know how to identify different types of issues,  find “triggering events” that could  spotlight these issues and have action plans in place for dealing with them.

JJ&W has prepared this piece from the perspective of our clients in the healthcare industry – though the issue categories and preparation tips are applicable to all industries. It is based on lessons learned firm’s long history of preparing for and dealing with issues (and crisis situations) and it integrates our behavioral approach to public relations. Click here for article

Your feedback is welcomed!

Robin Schell/rschell@jjwpr.com

Pan-Mass Challenge: A Case Study In Establishing A Signature Event

This past August was my 4th opportunity to ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), a 2-day bike ride across Massachusetts ending in Provincetown, to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The PMC raises more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country. I’ve been reflecting on what they do right from a PR perspective, and there is a long list.
Goal-Driven: The PMC raised $45 million in 2015 with a goal of $46 million in 2016. Visit www.pmc.org and check out the Vimeo with PMC founder Billy Starr – powerful!

Get An Early Commitment: Those of us who are repeat riders are signing on the dotted line in January for an August ride, giving us ample time to train & fundraise. We put our credit cards down & then pray we can do the hard work ahead. One PMC t-shirt says it all: COMMIT – You’ll Figure It Out!

Establish A Clear Mission: The PMC’s mission is “Our hope is to provide Dana-Farber with the necessary resources to discover cures for all cancers”. Tough not to be for that one.

Design Healthy Competition. The fundraising can be overwhelming, but the PMC is a well-oiled machine that provides plenty of helpful tips, templates and systems to help you succeed. The “heavy hitter” and “top 10%” levels urge those with a competitive spirit to go above the required minimums.

Create Ambassadors. Last year the PMC attracted 6000 riders and 4000 volunteers – it takes everyone to pull off an event of this magnitude, from the folks pouring Gatorade at rest stops to those loading luggage bound for specific locations. Participation is infectious – all of us that have ever experienced a PMC will tell you to join the movement! There is nothing like seeing the crowd lining the streets with cowbells and signs, thanking
you for what you are doing, to pump you up as you muscle through the final miles.

Have A Passionate Champion Leading The Charge. Billy Starr founded the PMC in 1980, and he is out there creating events around check presentations, raising awareness through speaking engagements and touting accomplishments to keep everyone motivated.

For more information about the PMC, visit www.pmc.org – and consider becoming a sponsor, a rider, a volunteer!

Robin/rschell@jjwpr.com

 

How Improving Employee Communication Skills Can Make The Difference

Overall success in a matrix organizational structure depends largely on the presence of constant, clear communication.  From the very beginning, all aspects of the matrix process — from roles & responsibilities to the evaluation process need to be clearly defined and managed with open communication and unambiguous accountability.  But what if they aren’t established or working properly?
Many organizations assume the effectiveness of operating a matrix structure lies with the human resources department. In most organizations, communication professionals do not set up the matrix structure – that is usually the purview of human resources.

However, it is the skill set of the communication professional that can help the matrix structure function effectively and ensure its success.
Those who have lived in a matrix structure easily can point out pros and cons:

Click Here for Full Article

Stacey Smith/ssmith@jjwpr.com

“The new CEO does not know our culture” Union Leader, July 28, 2014, pg. 1

There is likely not a business school nor a communications program out there that is not following the developments of the Demoulas/Market Basket crisis as it is unfolding.  To JJ&W, it is yet another illustration of how powerful corporate culture can be when it comes to the success or failure of an organization.

For those not yet aware of the events, the upper and middle management of the chain, headquartered in Tewksbury, Mass, walked out in protest of the ousting of their leader by the Board of Director’s, Arthur T. Demoulas, the long-term CEO and leader of one segment (slightly less than half) of the family of investors.  The management team, many who were fired but continue to protest, have taken the brunt of the punishment, encouraging hourly employees who need their jobs to pay weekly bills to stay at their post and not risk their jobs — a very different approach from typical strikes where the average employee is out on the street and middle management is working to keep things going!  

For many years, the Market Basket stores had been known as only one place to shop among many but nothing special; some perceived the family as tough to work for and a bit unfriendly.  There were always rumors of how the family was divided and internal fighting would go on from time to time but the stores just plodded along. About five years ago, the quality of the stores began to turn around.  Click Here for Full Article

Stacey Smith/ssmith@jjwpr.com