BlueCross PR chief relies on listening, writing skills

BlueCross PR chief relies on listening, writing skills

October 20th, 2011 by Holly Leber in Business Around the Region

Mary Danielson is director of corporate communications at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

• Name: Mary Danielson

• Position: Director of corporate communications

• Location: BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

• First job: Marketing assistant at UTC Arena

• Education: Bachelor's degree from UTC in broadcast journalism, master's in public relations, UT

• Best part of the job: "The variety that it offers. Every day there's something different on my plate to handle. I like to say I communicate for a living and for fun, trying to convey messages to different audiences and help them understand a different subject or new topic. It's challenging and rewarding when it's done successfully."

• Worst part of the job: "Sometimes the complexity of the subject matter that you're dealing with and the demands on your time and attention. Health care is complicated and it's our job to make it digestible for the members so they can get the most benefit out of their health plan."

• Challenges: "Helping somebody understand the business of insurance, especially when they hopefully are not having to access it every day. Unfortunately, the only time we have to pay attention to insurance is when we go to the doctor. It's our job to help simplify things and to make it easy for our members to engage with their health. It's also a challenge to make insurance interesting and fun."

• What she's learning: "That it's always personal. Whatever it is you're engaged in, it's always personal and there's an impact to somebody. Your words are important as well as your actions."

• How to make a career of it: "When I've been asked to talk to student groups, I've said, 'Learn to write.' Public relations is the same as any communications career. You have to have a solid writing foundation. Coupled with having good writing skills is to be a good listener.