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Varian Medical Systems provides radiation oncology technology. Over 4,750 of the company’s cancer radiotherapy systems and medical linear accelerators are in service around the world, being used to treat thousands of cancer patients every day. With reported sales of $1.2 billion, Varian is the world leader in the design and manufacture of equipment and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions. The company is also a premiere supplier of X-ray tubes and flat-panel digital technology for imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications. In addition, its Security and Inspection group is the market leader in high-energy X-ray devices for non-destructive testing and cargo screening.
Varian employs approximately 3,300 people, located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe, and in 55 sales and support offices around the world. They are currently pursuing technologies and products that promise to improve disease management.
Varian’s Web site, www.varian.com, is used primarily as a resource for product managers to offer technical information about Varian’s equipment and software to their customers - hospital administrators, oncologists and medical physicists. The corporate IT department is focused on company operations, and the marketing department, with the help of an external Web development vendor, manages the Website, keeping it up-to-date with content that is highly technical and industry specific. The problem, however, is that visitors to Varian’s site who do not have an understanding of the industry are hard pressed to find information they can easily comprehend. This was the major challenge facing Meryl Ginsberg, PR manager for Varian.
Ginsberg and her small corporate communications team needed a way to communicate about what Varian does to people who don’t necessarily speak the industry’s language, such as the media and investors. They also needed a way to help their customers, i.e. cancer treatment centers, communicate the benefits of the Varian equipment they had purchased to their own key audiences- local media, patrons, and even patients.
Ginsberg’s corporate communications team decided the best vehicle for their needs was an online media room. They knew, however, that the corporate IT team already had its hands full with a plethora of mission-critical projects, and could not be diverted to focus on building a media room. Plus, Ginsberg didn’t relish the idea of creating a media room architecture from scratch. Surely, she thought, there is a more expedient way to solve this problem. When she first saw the PR Newswire MediaRoom tool, she knew immediately that she had found a solution.
Ginsberg was introduced to PR Newswire’s off-the-shelf MediaRoom tool at an event in the Bay Area. Shortly after seeing a demonstration of the tool Ginsberg realized it provided the “shortest distance between two points.” PR Newswire’s MediaRoom tool was created for communication professionals who need to manage online content, but don’t have a vast amount of IT “know-how” or support. MediaRoom defies technology barriers with a password-protected interface that allows users to easily upload news releases, pictures, audio clips, video clips, product information, corporate fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations, annual reports, financial statements, corporate logos and more. From a dashboard accessible anywhere with an Internet connection, users can even activate ‘dark pages” pre-populated with content, in crisis situations, or employ text to audio phone alert systems. Most importantly, the user does not need to be savvy in coding language but simply needs to have basic Microsoft Word skills in order to work the program.
Commenting on PR Newswire’s MediaRoom tool, Ginsberg said, “I saw what I wanted. I saw architecture that was already there. I saw something that was going to be easily populated by me in real-time. I just saw the shortest distance between two points, and right around the quagmire that was facing us if we had tried to go through the existing resources that were here within the company.”
Ginsberg and her team spent time looking at what other companies included in their media rooms before she began populating her own, “We spent time visiting companies that we respected. We looked at what other people were doing. And we chose those elements that we thought would help us the most.”
Ginsberg was able to create sections of her MediaRoom to cater to all of her audiences. For the media, she created a section with easy-to-understand non-technical information. In it, she included an archived news release section, which is automatically updated each time the company issues a news release over PR Newswire, and an opt-in section for journalists to sign up to receive news releases directly into their email as soon as they post to the MediaRoom. Also included were biographies of key executives, a high-resolution image gallery, contact information on every page, a search bar, product information, corporate fact sheets, articles, white papers and case studies, and even a corporate video section.
While the MediaRoom was not intended to be a comprehensive place for investor information, Ginsberg did include a section dedicated to investor relations. In this section, visitors can find all of the elements that Varian would traditionally have mailed out by request—the latest company fact sheet and quarterly earnings release, the latest annual report, links to SEC filings, and information about the company’s management team. This ended up being a huge cost-savings for Varian, “We were able to cut the cost of mailing these investor packages by leading investors to this particular page within the MediaRoom,” she said.
To help Varian’s customers’ communicate with their own stakeholders, Ginsberg provided necessary tools, such as photos and product information in the media room. She posted information that could be helpful to a hospital communicator trying to explain the benefits of Varian technology to local health reporters, funding sources, and even potential patients. “We have tried to make our MediaRoom a really solid resource for other communicators to communicate about how they are using Varian products to help cancer patients,” she said.
Lastly, Varian also uses its online MediaRoom as a vehicle to speak to employees. Ginsberg writes weekly articles for the employee online newsletter, and some of these stories link directly to material in the MediaRoom. Because the language used in the MediaRoom is jargon-free, Ginsberg says this is a very effective way of helping non-technical employees like those in finance, facilities and accounting, stay up-to-date on the company’s products and services.
“The MediaRoom has been a tremendous communications tool for us, not just for journalists, but for a whole variety of audiences,” concluded Ginsberg.
To view Varian’s MediaRoom, go to: http://varian.mediaroom.com/