St. Augustinus

June 7, 2012 at 1:35 am 1 comment

On Tuesday, June 5 I spent all day at the St. Augustinus Kliniken in Neuss (next to Dusseldorf). Vera Thaller and her team were very welcoming. I was pleased to see the similarities between her team and our team at United General at home. Although their team is much bigger (6 people to our 3) we share a lot of the same jobs through Communications and Public Relations for our hospitals. Their team is responsible for the public relations, media and news releases, ethics and legalities, and internal and external communications. They have 13 clinics spread throughout the North Rhine Westphalia state and offer services such as somatic care, psychiatric care, care for people with disabilities, senior care and rehabilitation programs.
Similar to my job they do an external newsletter twice per year and an internal newsletter every 6 weeks, both printed and available online.
St. Augustinus has been Catholic based since 1844 but became a public company in 2004.
Once difference I noticed is that in their event planning (open houses, etc) the Communications Department is only responsible for the advertising and PR of the event. The actual event is planned by a committee which includes employees of the specific program or area holding the event. At United General we frequently put on our party planning hats for everything from open houses to street fairs. It would be great if we could get a committee together as they have done to share more ideas and logistics. The budgets work a little differently as well. Obviously the states have a very different funding plan than in Europe, but even internally at the hospital each department is responsible for paying for their advertising while Communications does the work.
St. Augustinus uses a few different venues for the advertising. They work with a freelance graphic artist, their internal job training program, a small print shop, and also a large advertising agency that does all the copywriting and design for their larger projects.
In the afternoon I was pleased to meet Brigitte, a local free lance graphic artist. She had some great insights on her career as a free lancer and I was excited to hear about her many clients and how she manages to juggle her time with all of them. We ate at what used to be the old post office but has now been turned into an art gallery and restaurant. The weather was beautiful and lunch (spaetzle) was delicious.
After lunch we returned to talk about the PR efforts for one of their new programs. will allow patients to have a computer based interactive relationship with their psychiatrist. This is a program on the heels of a large research effort comparing in-person counseling to online resources for people suffering from depression and anxiety. The day after my visit they were having meeting for the media so preparations for the news release was in full swing. I really liked their promotional materials – a business card with a usb stick built in with the press release, photos, and anything else the media may need.
Verena Shafers met me at the end of the day. She was a previous employee of the Communications Department and also a former GSE Team Australia 2010 member – so we had lots to talk about. During her time at St. Augustinus she did the PR for the opening of a new Psychiatric hospital, so we all got to tour the final construction of the new buildings. They used alot of the old brick building from the original convent – so the architectural plan for the new building was beautiful.
All in all it was a very educational day, and great to see the similarities and few differences between our companies. I am also very appreciative that Vera and Verena accompanies me to the Rotary meeting later that night to help settle my nerves before my speech in German. Thanks everyone!





Entry filed under: Team Blog.

Good Bye to Gelsenkirchen and Hello to Willich! Rhineland Rapsody

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. billrobson1  |  June 11, 2012 at 7:03 am

    This sounds so much like your job in WA, it’s amazing. Also to meet another GSE alumnus was a stroke of luck, especially just before a presentation.


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