What the Hell Is a County?

Let’s file this one under random junk email I get at work. Part of this is my fault because I list my work email on my LinkedIn account, and I’m too lazy to change it. But it also provides the occasional blog fodder, so I do get something out of it. (See “You, Sir, Are a Failover” and “Beware the Webinar.”)

This one caught my eye because the subject was another Boston area hospital. Sometimes my communications counterparts from area hospitals will contact me, so I opened the email. But it pretty much went south after that.

Subject: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Hi Sandy,

Considering MGH’s 7 locations, I can only imagine the challenges involved in juggling multiple marketing channels like digital, social and print to remain positioned atop in Suffolk County area. Thus, we understand that optimizing initiatives focused around new residents may not be top of mind for the marketing team.

What’s the right balance between online-offline initiatives? How does MGH personalize for its 7 locations, specialities and varying Suffolk County area demographics? Most importantly, how will it measure success in real-time?

Ultimately, MGH’s execution of these questions will determine the share of the 30k new residents it gains/loses compared to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and other providers in the Suffolk County area.

Please let me know your thoughts and if a brief exploratory call on Monday makes sense.



So, first of all “Mark,” if that indeed is your real name, you seem pretty confident that we have 7 locations. Now, I work here, and I couldn’t tell you how many locations there are. We got the hospital itself, primary care locations, community health centers, specialty practices that are close to the main campus, but do they count as a location? I’ve never been able to figure that one out myself. We also own a bunch of smaller hospitals. Do those count? They have their own communications folks anyway, so probably not. I’m not sure if you pulled that number out of a hat, or counted something on the website or what, but you already had my eyeballs rolling with your opening 4 words. However, I needed to keep reading to determine if I could use this email for my blog.

And the minute I landed on “Suffolk County” at the end of the first sentence, I knew I had some blog gold here. You see, Mark, or as we say in these pahts, Mahk, we don’t use counties for anything except determining state representatives, stalking land deeds online, and figuring out who gets to celebrate a few obscure Boston-only holidays (you mean to tell me not everyone celebrates Evacuation Day? You know, the day the Brits left for good). Also, please never say or write the word “atop” again. I forbid it.

I understand most of the rest of the country thinks counties are a thing, and more power to them and you. Around here, it’s not a thing. In fact most people aren’t even sure what county they live in. So, not only have you messed up counting my hospital’s locations, you are clearly not even from around here, so what could you possibly know about reaching new residents, unless they are all leaving your county to live in Boston? It sounds like a smaht move.

Even better, Mahk, you mention the county 3 times, so now I know this is just some sort of merged/bot email, but I’m getting a good laugh at it. You’re like an overconfident person who keeps mispronouncing a word and digging your hole deeper. And then the kicker comes of mentioning Beth Israel Deaconess again, as if it’s our main competitor. Mahk, do you know that hospitals in Boston are like Dunkies? There is practically one on every corner. We compete with everyone — Beth Israel does not get that honor alone. Heck, we even compete with the other hospitals in our system.

Oh, and anyway I only do internal communications to the physicians, so I don’t really care about all those new people — all 30,000 of them. How specific! I’m sure you didn’t pull that number out of your ass, right Mahk? I mean, you’re a marketing professional atop a very up and coming county, right?

Sure, the Dropkick Murphys have a new song called “The Queen of Suffolk County,” but it’s about a woman who is arraigned in Suffolk County Court. OK, so I guess I forgot that use of county. Good song though. So, Mahk, don’t hold your breath that we are going to change our ways anytime soon.




  1. P.S.: The real secret to increasing your marketing prowess is my age-old, endowment-enhancing herbal elixir. (Two bottles for the price of one and free shipping to Suffolk County with code YOURBESTFRIENDMARK.)

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