Today we are featuring Kerry O’Connor, Senior Communications Manager at Einstein Healthcare Network. Kerry has been a PPRA member for nine years and has been working in the PR field for 18 years. As an avid writer Kerry has a passion for telling stories.
PPRA: Kerry, tell us a bit about your background and your current job.
KO: Since graduating from La Salle in 1998, I’ve been working in Public Relations. It’s a career born out of necessity. As a credentialed but broke journalist and photographer just out of college, I started working in PR as a way to keep the lights on between newspaper assignments.
In PR, I’ve worked for organizations like Communities In Schools of Philadelphia and Magee Rehab, to name a few of the many, before coming to Einstein Healthcare Network. As a writer, I’ve written for everything: Inquirer, Northeast Times, Irish Edition, Weekly Press. I even had a piece in Tattoo magazine once. (Never saw that coming.)
PR or writing…I just like to tell stories.
PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?
KO: At Einstein Healthcare Network, I work for a variety of service-lines and network initiatives, like our 150th anniversary campaign this year. But, the bulk of my work is for MossRehab, Einstein’s physical and cognitive rehabilitation facility, which I really enjoy. There’s always new technology and new methods that truly help people with disabilities.
I’m working on some fun stuff right now, including our #BornAtEinstein campaign–a crowd-sourcing initiative to collect pictures and stories of people who had their kids or who were born at an Einstein hospital over our 150 year history: BornAtEnstein.com. I’m also putting together MossRehab’s sponsorship of the GlobalAbilities wheelchair racing team for the Broad Street Run and spearheading MossRehab’s involvement with They Will Surf Again in June–a one day surfing event for persons with disabilities.
PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?
KO: My favorite part about my job here at Einsten is that I work for a place that is open to me not just writing/pitching about what is going on, but to creating community partnerships and programs. (Then I get to pitch them, so It’s a win-win.)
They Will Surf Again is a great example. I surf, so I volunteered. When I came to Einstein/MossRehab, I thought it was the kind of thing MossRehab could be involved in and my leadership in PR and the leadership at MossRehab said “Go for it!” This June will be our fourth year. We’ve sent down over 150 volunteers so far and we’ve gotten lots of great publicity. This year our art therapy program is working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to create graphics for a surfboard to be used at the event. All because leadership was/is willing to hear ideas. You can’ take that for granted.
PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?
KO: The #BornAtEinstein campaign that is running till the end of this year. We’re asking Philadlephians to take the time to find baby pictures and share them, along with their often-times very personal stories about their experience at Einstein and people are sharing them. We have over 500 submissions so far, ranging from people who were born at an Einstein hospital in the 20s to babies that were born a few days ago.
The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania is highlighting the campaign at their annual PR conference in April.
PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?
KO: Never take the first no as the last no when trying to do something new. A few adjustments–and a little tenacity–may be all it takes.
PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?
KO: Movies: Casablanca, Jaws, Goodfellas…and my guilty pleasure, Captain Ron. Books: I love Hemingway. I’ve read his novels and short stories a ton of times.
PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?
KO: The Blue Horizon on Broad Street. When I started writing sports features, I covered a lot of boxing matches there. It’s closed now.
But, if I’m honest, my favorite all-time Philly spot is probably XIX Nineteen. Had my first date with my wife there. Proposed there. Now we have a three year-old son. That place is the epi-center for my happiness.
PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?
KO: Being a Boston native, I was exposed late in life to the wonders of the cheesesteak. My favorite, by far, is a cheesesteak from Donkey’s Place in Camden. (They only make it with American cheese, on a round roll and you can get grilled onions, which I do.)
When I lived in Manayunk, I loved Delassandro’s. But, I gotta say, a heart-attack wit’ (provolone, american, whiz in a hollowed-out roll) from Pat’s is pretty spectacular.