Marc Rolph is not a writer. He freely admits that crafting together a string of eloquent words is not necessarily his forte. What he is good at, though, is communicating a story. Yes, there is a difference. And as the new director of integrated communications at University of Mississippi Medical Center, Rolph is taking on the challenge of bringing the UMMC story to the widest audience possible.
A South Jackson native, Rolph graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in broadcasting. After a stint in Knoxville with an NBC affiliate, he started a family and came back to MSU to work in their television department for ten years. At the same time, his wife earned her PhD and became a history professor at Millsaps. It’s also where Rolph worked as marketing coordinator until a month ago.
The “38.9” year-old (he has a birthday on Tuesday) was lured to University of Mississippi Medical Center by Public Affairs Director Tom Fortner. When Rolph was at MSU, the two served on an Institutions of Higher Learning committee to help brand Mississippi Public Universities. “Tom’s goal was to move his department forward and enhance what it is they do,” Rolph says. “He told me he wanted someone who could look at electronic media and find ways to integrate written communication with video and other new media.” Rolph says it was the perfect opportunity. “It’s really a chance to do the things I feel most talented at.”
In the position for just about a month, Rolph isn’t filling a vacancy. “This role is different than even the person who held it before me,” he says. “The position is being adapted to the goals of the department.” Those goals include changing some print to electronic and enhancing UMMC’s Twitter and Facebook presence. Rolph says they’re seeking the most appropriate ways to target their many audiences.
Coworker Jack Mazurak, a four year veteran of the department and assistant director of media relations, agrees and says they’re glad to have Marc. “What he will be a big piece of is bringing us to a more digi-centric model to help get the medical center story out more quickly, more effectively and in a useable format,” Mazurak says. Statistics tell UMMC that, on any given day, there are 20,000 people on campus. “How do we communicate with them better and tell our stories in the best way? Marc will help generate story ideas. Really, he’s helping us see how to make the biggest impact.”
With attention spans getting shorter and content delivery systems evolving, Rolph’s biggest challenges, he says, haven’t even come up yet. But timeliness may be at the top of the list. “People want info now,” Rolph explains. “We have to be aware of changing desires of our readers and people who need our information. It always comes back to good writing, but the delivery is always evolving.”
What will Rolph be communicating? He says it’s the fantastic work of UMMC. “We are healthcare, research and education,” Rolph explains. “In each one, there can be daily stories generated.” Those stories, he says, may be on autism research or an alumnus who becomes president of a healthcare system. “We’re more than a hospital; we’re a place of amazing work in the medical field. We want people to know that.”