Popular culture in Columbus, Ohio, links the Wexner name to the arts, not medicine, and some experts said changing the way the community thinks is not going to be easy or without hiccups.
Feb. 10, the Ohio State University Medical Center was renamed The Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University to honor OSU alumnus and Limited Brands Inc. CEO Leslie H. Wexner, for his leadership and service to the university.
But the Wexner Center for the Arts, named for Wexner’s father, was opened in 1989 and has gained international recognition.
It is the Wexner Center’s more than 20-year presence in the community that poses a problem, said Jesse Fox, assistant professor of communication.
“It’s going to be a hard road to change all that,” Fox said. “When people think of the Wexner, they think of the Wexner Center, they think of the arts. So I don’t know how they’re going to change that.”
One of the first steps after the initial name change notification was changing the medical center’s Twitter handle.
Gina Bericchia, public affairs and media relations coordinator at the medical center, said her department and the university had the community in mind when they created the medical center’s new Twitter handle, @OSUWexMed.
“I want to look at the community as they look at us,” Bericchia said. “I really want our social media to be patient- and employee-driven.”
Bericchia said the new handle needs to make it clear that the content being posted is medical.
“We’re still very much the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center,” she said. “And I wanted to keep that as part of our identity.”
Fox agreed. She said “heaven forbid” someone would tweet about being at the Wexner Center, and a follower would happily reply about an art exhibit and the original tweeter would respond, “What do you mean? I’m at the hospital.”
But Beth NeCamp, associate vice president and chief communications officer for OSU’s Health Sciences Administration, said she wouldn’t classify these potential hiccups as a problem.
“It’s really not that big of a change for folks,” she said. “We’re still calling ourselves Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.”
Although some don’t consider the change to be that big, Mindset Digital, a Columbus-based social media and digital consulting firm, helped with the preparation of and changes involved with the name change.
Ted Hattemer, senior director for university marketing and communications, said changing the way the Columbus community thinks isn’t the only hurdle yet to be cleared.
“Changing the Facebook page is an interesting thing, because if you have over 100 fans on Facebook, they don’t let you change your name,” Hattemer said. “The med center has maybe 6,000 fans, so one option would be to just start over and try to send them to another page. The other option would just be to contact Facebook.”
NeCamp said her office had yet to make a decision on how to act on the Facebook issue.
Experts on several fronts said there are many factors to still consider as the newly-named medical center moves forward.
“Nowadays, we have to think about everything from the search perspective,” Fox said.
Hattemer agreed and said it’s important for people to find the things they want as the medical center moves forward with its new branding.
“We need to put some time and energy into optimizing search engine results,” he said.
Additionally, the medical center’s old Twitter handle has been taken and turned into a parody account.
Bericchia, who monitors the medical center’s Twitter content, said she is aware of the parody account and doesn’t think it’s a issue. The medical center’s Twitter presence is pretty obvious, she said.
Some said the medical center’s presence in the community has been obvious too.
“I have seen the whole advertising campaign, which is good,” Fox said. “Clearly, they’re doing a great job promoting the name change.”
The Lantern is still waiting for confirmation on the specifics of the amount the university and medical center spent on advertising the name change; advertisements were also taken out in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Columbus Dispatch and USA Today.
But Fox said the money spent on advertising was worth it, because the university has a national reputation that needs to be maintained.
“It’s justifiable because it is really important to let people know it’s going to have a different name,” she said. “Remaining the unity in that reputation is really important.”
Brennan White, a third-year in communication, said although she hasn’t seen a lot of the advertisements, she received the email President E. Gordon Gee sent out Feb. 10 about the change. She said although it’s hard to get information out to all the students at OSU, she thought students on campus were aware of the change.
“The school should be using social media a lot to get it out to students,” she said.
Hattemer said he saw a lot of grateful patient and employer reaction when the change was announced, but the students weren’t shy about making their opinions known in the Twitterverse.
“I saw a little snarkiness on social media the day it happened,” Hattemer said. “But I think that’s to be expected.”