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Outreach in the Age of COVID-19: Your Mission Is Your True North

Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by Ira Jackson

There are constant proving grounds in the life of any organization, and as we are seeing, there is nothing quite like a crisis to reveal true organizational character. 

COVID-19 encircled the globe in mere weeks, forcing even the most powerful nations into contortionist acts to protect populations and economies. The crisis has exacted chaos, toppled priorities and upended the realities of organizations in every sector, with most now seeking effective ways to market, remain solvent and survive. 

What happens next will best serve organizations that operate with a clear mission and solid leadership. Perfect Image is privileged to serve such an organization that is channeling its mission, its true north, in the face of the pandemic, and they’re changing the world in the process. 

Regardless of industry or where our offerings fit in society or business, there is much we can all learn during this time from the journey and outreach strategy of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). 

Medicine with a social mission 

MSM-doctor-patient.jpgMorehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, one of the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, was recently recognized as the top institution among U.S. medical schools for its social mission. 

Since 1975, MSM has been graduating health sciences professionals dedicated to primary care, helping underserved communities, and solving the most pressing healthcare issues faced in the United States.

Their emphasis is on people of color and the underserved urban and rural populations of Georgia, the nation and world. Through renowned education programs, clinical innovations, community service, pipeline programs and research, MSM is strengthening healthcare on a global scale. 

When COVID-19 came knocking

MSM-group-shot.jpgLike most organizations, MSM was fully engaged in normal operations when the pandemic took hold in the United States. The Advancement team was in the throes of organizing a key event that congregates hundreds of people each year. 

Without hesitation, the School postponed the occasion, pulled event materials off the presses and turned their sights to what immediately mattered in the growing crisis – sustaining curriculum delivery in new ways and pressing forward with their annual institutional campaign. 

The campaign – IMPACT: The World Needs What We Do Best – is presented in one of the most striking advancement and development presentations our firm has seen or produced. Beyond making a visual statement, the message embodies MSM’s core mission, which has long been relevant, but amidst the pandemic, it has taken on an even more inspiring, poignant and timely case statement for our times. 

Having laid bare and amplified economic and social disparities throughout the world, especially in the areas of science, research, medicine and healthcare, COVID-19 came knocking and MSM is answering.

I encourage you to view this perfect example of mission-driven marketing in today’s environment.

“We wanted to create a compelling piece that would inspire an emotional response,” said Bennie L. Harris, PhD, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement at MSM. “We did that by telling the unique stories of our students, alumni, faculty, staff, programs, and mission through words, photos, and eye-catching design.” 

A mantra every organization should adopt 

“Our mission is deep in our DNA and informs everything we do.”

That is a quote from the MSM campaign. Indeed, after 45 years, ‘medicine with a social mission’ is still their intentional journey and an anchor of stability to remain focused and life-changing during the global pandemic. The campaign compels us to remember, “Together, we can make an IMPACT.” 

“When we first planned for our $150-million, multi-year comprehensive campaign, we of course had no idea how much the world would change in 2020,” Harris said. “The coronavirus pandemic required us to pivot, but only slightly, because the theme of the campaign has never been more true. The world does need what we do best, and the world needs it now, more than ever. So we will press on.” 

The best thing all of us can do for our organizations, our employees and constituents, now and in the future, is to live by what we stand for and never waver – to drive and promote our unique purposes, the reasons we exist, and the ways we serve. This is not branding. It is mission-driven marketing. For a time, we will have to pick and choose the marketing and outreach efforts we’re able to manage with limited budgets or staff, but our results will certainly be stronger if everything we do aligns with our true north.


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