Over the course of its 70-year history, Michigan-based Stryker Corporation established itself as one of the world’s largest medical technologies companies while maintaining an extremely low profile in the media. The Fortune 500 company had done very little proactive media outreach, and almost never engaged outside public relations support.
Then, after acquiring an innovative safety technology designed to address the No. 1 surgical “never event” — a surgical sponge being left inside a patient — Stryker saw a need to educate the medical community and the general public about the incidence and dangers of retained sponges. They turned to Pinkston with a charge to raise awareness without compromising the image the company had carefully protected through nearly 70 years of avoiding the media spotlight.
In 2016, Pinkston’s efforts resulted in more than two-dozen reports on retained sponges in general or SurgiCount specifically in a wide range of outlets reaching both medical and general audience groups. Coverage included reports and op-eds on CNN, Fox News and National Public Radio’s popular “Diane Rehm Show,” as well as in a host of medical trade publications including Modern Healthcare, Becker’s Healthcare, OR Today, Advance for Nurses and many others.
The success of the campaign led to an expanded role for Pinkston, including launching a similar education campaign around surgical smoke plume, and another related to spine surgery. These efforts have included traditional media outreach and thought leadership, as well as newer tactics such as video production. Digital storytelling, like this testimonial from a doctor affected by exposure to surgical smoke, is a compelling way to connect with audiences and share stories that resonate.