by Mary Helen Yarborough
Despite the floods, storms and holidays, Kim Draughn makes certain The
Catalyst is distributed to racks across campus so patients, visitors,
staff and students can catch up on the latest developments at MUSC.
As editor of the weekly tabloid, Draughn works from dawn to dusk
assigning stories, covering events and laying out the paper all while
her phone rings nonstop. Callers include MUSC officials and individuals
who request coverage of an event or a feature about an employee or
patient; or they are readers wanting more information on a doctor or
treatment they learned about in The Catalyst.
Draughn has been with the 26-year-old paper for more than 13 years, and
often pulls from her experience and recollection to supply historical
context of issues and people at MUSC.
Supported solely by advertising sold by its publisher, Island
Publications, The Catalyst newspaper is free and costs MUSC nothing to
publish or distribute. “We work for this institution and hospital, and
it is our job to get the information out and share the news and
pertinent information, especially now,” Draughn said.
“We have shared a long history of working well together to produce a
newspaper for the MUSC’s staff, students, patients and visitors. MUSC
has such a visible way to get the message out about the events,
programs and happenings concerning the MUSC family,” said Island
Publications publisher Vickey Boyd. “The Catalyst staff provides the
copy and pictures. Our staff sells the ads, publishes the paper and
helps distribute it. This allows MUSC to have the paper at no cost. In
addition, employees are entitled to free classified ads, with few
The Catalyst’s Internet version, launched in 1997, currently averages
440,000 Web visits a month, according to Draughn. “We get calls all the
time from people who’ve read about something in The Catalyst wanting
more information,” Draughn added. “So, in that sense, it helps bring
more people to MUSC.
The Currents newsletter was printed and distributed separately. “To
help the hospital save money, we agreed to run Currents as hospital
administrators wanted it. So we run Currents in The Catalyst as a
cost-saver,” said Draughn.
The Catalyst helps MUSC scientists and departments fulfill publicity
requirements stipulated in research grants or accreditation efforts. It
also generates publicity by the mainstream news media and serves as a
tool in the university’s philanthropic endeavors.
In more personal instances, it has helped improve the quality of life for children.
“A couple of years ago, (Catalyst staff writer) Cindy (Abole) wrote a
story about a little girl who needed a seizure assist dog,” Draughn
recalled. “The problem was that the medical service dog would cost the
child’s parents $16,000, and they didn’t have that kind of money.”
The child, she explained, had epilepsy and was prone to frequent
seizures. Abole had written a story and taken a photo of the child with
the visiting seizure assist dog, which appeared on the front page of
The Catalyst in March 2006.
“We received a call from a visitor in the hospital who read the story
and wanted to know how he could help,” Draughn said. “That reader
arranged to pay for that therapy dog for the child.”
“The size and complexity of the MUSC campus—with our students, faculty,
staff, patients and their families—demand efficient communication
tools, and The Catalyst is certainly efficient, because it costs the
university nothing to publish,” said MUSC Public Relations director
Sarah King, DHA, who oversees the paper’s production. “We have learned
in this country that during good times, open channels of communication
are essential to continued success. During tough times, sustaining and
even increasing effective communication becomes a matter of corporate
life and death. You would be hard-pressed to find an organization
affecting the lives of untold thousands of people that did not have a
communications tool like The Catalyst.”
Three Public Relations staff members handle most of The Catalyst’s production.
A former NASA public affairs liaison, Abole has worked for 10 years
with The Catalyst and also serves as the MUSC Excellence program
liaison for the hospital and university. She also reports on weekly
hospital communications meetings with administrators, managers and
supervisors through the Currents column in The Catalyst.
For information, call 792-4107 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For advertising, call 849-1778, ext. 201.
note: Mary Helen Yarborough has 25 years of experience working in
mainstream media covering national and global issues. She joined The
Catalyst staff in 2006.
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Friday, Nov. 21, 2008