How Brittaney Bethea is helping the Morehouse School of Medicine Grow It’s Local Awareness

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Brittaney shares tips on how she helps MSM's community involvement and awareness.

Resources from this interview

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast where we help marketers & CEOs learn the latest tips and tricks to help ignite growth in their business. This isn’t your typical marketing podcast. We push beyond platitudes to deliver you real-world stories from the trenches. Are you ready to learn? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to have fun? Well, then, buckle up because you are about to enter the Ignite Podcast.

Host: All right everybody, we are in for a treat today. I’m excited. We are going to learn a whole lot about marketing. This isn’t a typical form of marketing that I am very used to, so I’m going to learn a lot and we’re going to learn a lot together. We’ve got Brittaney Bethea on the line. She’s the Director of Marketing for the Morehouse School of Medicine. I hope you guys are ready. We’re going to learn a lot. I want to jump right into it. Brittaney, how you doing?

Brittaney: I’m doing great. How are you?

Host: I’m good, I’m good, I’m good. Give our listeners a little bit of a background. I believe you were teaching before you came over to the line sight of marketing.

Brittaney: Yes. I’m actually still teaching. I am a third-year doctoral student at Georgia State University. I’m in their Department of Communications. Part of my four to five-year plan there involves teaching undergraduate students mass communication courses as well as journalism.

Host: You’re eventually going to go from being the Director of Marketing at Morehouse to teaching full time at GSU.

Brittaney: No, not necessarily. Ultimately, how I see my career is being in practice in marketing and communications, but also, still having the ability to leverage my time at GSU for private consulting or workshop, development and training at other nonprofits.

Host: Very cool. GSU is where I went. That’s my alma mater. I love that you’re–

Brittaney: Awesome.

Host: Yes. I won’t say best school in the state because you’re at Morehouse and I don’t want to insult anyone, but in my opinion–

Brittaney: [chuckles] GSU doesn’t have a med school, so maybe you start at GSU and then, you head to Morehouse School of Medicine.

Host: There you go. I like it. All right, very cool. Tell us about your role at Morehouse. What are you into? What are the goals? How do you get it done?

Brittaney: Sure. My role is the Marketing and Communications Director for the research and community engagement activities at Morehouse School of Medicine. We are really a force that focuses in on a couple of different enterprises. Obviously, we’re a School of Medicine, so we have an educational enterprise, but we also have a research enterprise as well as a clinical health care enterprise and then, we’re also involved in the community and a lot of different service-oriented projects and initiatives.

My focus is specifically on the community engagement and the research. A lot of our goals and our objectives are centered around increasing innovations in the research space as it relates to healthcare, as it relates to public health, and specifically, around this notion of health equity. We’re trying to get people the right types of services at the right time, so that they have exactly what it is that they need at this moment in their lives.

Host: Talk to us a little bit about the metrics that are important to you. What are you looking at every month? What are the main key performance indicators there with your side of marketing?

Brittaney: Certainly some of the traditional metrics such as our website views or clicks. We certainly look at the number of funding dollars that we receive in a fiscal year. We certainly look at the number and type of services that we are providing to the community. We look at the types of strategic partnerships that we have. Are we only concentrating on partnerships in the public space or do we have a nice amount of corporate sponsorships as well?

Then, we also look at engagements, what types of conversations and how many are we engaged in online. Then, what do our conversations look like in person as well when we host events or partner to develop events off-campus.

Host: You have a whole bunch of metrics that you guys are based on. One of those, you mentioned corporate partners, so you’re getting contributions from corporate partners here in Atlanta?

Brittaney: Yes, here in Atlanta as well as on a national space as well. There are partnerships that we have with long-standing relationships from people in the metro Atlanta area, but also, nationally known organizations as well, who really have a state and healthcare and they really view the work that we do a little bit differently than they may view others. Specifically, I work engaging with communities that are known to be underserved, so minorities specifically.

Host: Give us an example of a company that’s working with you here in Atlanta and then, how you guys go to find more corporate partners like that.

Brittaney: Actually, we recently hosted our annual Gloster Society event. Our Gloster Society event is named after one of our founders of the school. Essentially, the society was developed to help grow philanthropy and enhance knowledge of the exceptional generosity that comes to our institution, specifically, from individuals in these corporate spaces. For example, this year, Home Depot was one of those major sponsors that joined us at the Gloster celebration this year as they committed to supporting us even more than they had in the past.

Host: Very cool, Home Depot, all right, for the win. Got to love those guys. We have the aquarium to thank for, for them as well. Okay, we’re looking at a number of metrics. You mentioned social media, one of the things that you’re engaging on. Do you personally handle the social media updates for the research side or do you work with agencies? What goes on there?

Brittaney: I do. Because I am someone in the sciences and in the arts as I like to say, so higher education marketing services, we think of the creativity that comes from it, whether it be the visual design or even the creative copy, but my background is actually in public health. That means that I have an understanding of the research firsthand, specifically, the public health research.

What I help the researchers do is really translate their findings into information that the general public would find interesting and would understand. I help them understand what it is that makes their research relevant to the community and how can we trim that down to 140 characters or how might we pitch that to the media.

Host: I bet it’s not simple to make complicated research findings relevant to the community in 140 characters. That’s probably not very easy, is it?

Brittaney: Certainly not. I think, a lot of times, we have research that starts in the lab. How do you make cells something that is relevant to our everyday lives? That’s really what we try to do. We try to bridge what happens in the lab can impact what happens in a clinical health space and can have some type of relevance for what’s going on in our population.

Host: Very cool. A lot of that’s being communicated through social media. You guys doing any kind of programmatic display ad buying? Walk me through that.

Brittaney: A lot of times, we’ll have ad buys for specific objectives. For example, we’re exploring that as a strategy to increase the awareness of our new physician’s assistant program. We are riding the wave of what the data and the trends of the state of Georgia are saying is that a physician assistant is a viable career path that is really thriving right now. We just launched our physician’s assistant program, but to increase the awareness of this program on our campus, we’re having to think strategically about what’s the best way to reach people who are interested in that field or related fields.

Host: Then, you’re reaching out to them with ad buys here in town. All right, very exciting stuff. You mentioned one of the struggles is, I don’t know, dumbing down some of the things that you’re discovering, so that all of us can understand how it impacts us at a community level. What are some of the other struggles that you have in your role? What are the day-to-day hardships you find?

Brittaney: I would say certainly trying to be sure that the research that we’re engaging in is something that people understand is not just for underserved populations, but it really does have implications for everyone’s health. A project that we might be engaged in does have implications for a particular segment of the population, but one segment of the population’s health does ultimately impact the total nation’s health. Just making sure that people understand that and care about the research that we engage in from a perspective of population health, not specifically one region or one particular area of the nation.

Host: Yes, I got you. It’s really caring for everybody. It’s probably hard to communicate that message that this matters for everyone.

Brittaney: Right.

Host: All right, I got you. Okay, do you have a team that you’re working with there? Is it you’re by your lonesome in the Marketing Department on the research side or what do you have?

Brittaney: No, we have a full team. We have three Directors of Marketing, again, aligned with our vision imperatives. One in our educational space, one for our clinical healthcare, and then myself for the research. Then, we also have a team of creatives. We have a Creative Director, a Graphic Designer, a Copy Editor, and a Digital Marketing Specialist, as well as our VP who leads us all.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to someone that’s looking to become a Director of Marketing at a great organization like the Morehouse School of Medicine? How do they grow up to be just like you, Brittaney?

Brittaney: Well, I would definitely say, I guess, if I was speaking to someone who was maybe approaching the end of high school and they decided that marketing or communications is a field that they’d like to go in, it’s certainly the value of internships, making sure that you have some type of hands-on experience to actually engage with the real day-to-day issues that marketers and communicators are facing. To also just have a general understanding of the tools that are currently prominent in the field because those change often.

You want to have some technical experience, developing materials, developing messages, and then, also, evaluating your effort. That’s a really big one I would say, to be able to argue that, “This strategy works because,” or, “This strategy is a viable solution for this particular audience segment.” Certainly internships. Then, I would also try to, ultimately, find a niche, what is it that you feel that you’d like to focus on that is somewhat specific. Finding a balance between being a generalist, but then also having some specialty or an area where you’d like to have expertise.

Interviewer: Absolutely. It starts with internships, then you recommend making sure you’re staying up-to-date on all the tools, and then finding some kind of special expertise. It takes time to find that expertise. I find people come into our agency and they dabble in everything that we do and then, eventually, they find their niche, whether they’re analytical, they go to search or, if they’re more creative, maybe SEO. It takes time to find that, but I love starting with an internship. It’s great, a lot of people come in at school, the job market’s hot and they think they should be making 50k right out of school. It’s not realistic, right?

Brittaney: Absolutely. Honestly, I would suggest trying to work with your school’s Office of Career Services to start your internships early. Each summer is not a summer off, each summer should really be a summer on where you’re securing an internship, in all four years, you’re really gaining that experience to better leverage that conversation about your salary, post graduation.

Interviewer: I love it. Every summer is a summer on, there are no summers off. I can tell Brittaney does not even take days off, there are no weekends in the Bethea House. [laughs] I love it, working hard. Brittaney, thank you so much for your time. I found this incredibly enlightening. I didn’t know anything about the research side, how large the implications were for community and population health. This has been incredibly enlightening, thank you for joining us on Ignite today.

Brittaney: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. If you like what you heard, please leave us a rating and review. Before you go, please remember to subscribe to this podcast, so you don’t miss the next episode. For more digital marketing tips, make sure you visit Have a great rest of the day and don’t forget that the most important part of your job is to ignite growth.

[00:13:23] [END OF AUDIO]

Brittaney Bethea Director of Marketing and Communications

Alex Membrillo


Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).

Cardinal has experienced exponential growth under Membrillo’s leadership, being consecutively named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies for the last three years. Membrillo’s innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. He has been featured in leading national publications including The Business Journals, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an expert speaker for conferences including the American Marketing Association, SouthWired, and Vistage Executive Leaders, where he spoke on his unique approach to Millennial Management to over 400 CEOs.

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