Written by The Business Journal Staff
Michelle Von Tersch, Vice President for Corporate Communications
Community Medical Centers
What we do:
Community Medical Centers is the largest healthcare provider in central California, with three hospitals and several outpatient centers.
Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism; Public Relations
Master’s Degree in Business Administration
Husband Ron Von Tersch,
Sons James, Matt, Andrew and Jack
Tell us about your new role as Vice President for Corporate Communications, Michelle.
I oversee operations for Communications — marketing and public relations — and Fund Development. In my new role, I’ll also have the opportunity to work more closely with our Government Relations and Public Affairs office.
Tell us about how you first joined Community Medical Centers, Michelle.
I worked in the news department at ABC30 before joining Community in 1998 as communication specialist. Community had taken over operations of the then Valley Medical Center and the region’s only burn and Level 1 trauma center. I was hired to leverage the media attention a service like that brings and build stronger working relationships with our local media.
Tell us about the importance of corporate communications in era of social media, Michelle.
It’s a perfect paradigm of ‘the more things change, the more things stay the same.’ What hasn’t changed is the power and influence of ‘word-of-mouth’ communication. What has changed is that today we can share our personal opinion and experience with literally hundreds or thousands of people with one tweet or Facebook post. Social media can be a tremendous communication asset for businesses who embrace it and join or promote conversations with their customers.
What are some pro tips you can offer to businesses when it comes to internal or external communications, Michelle?
A business or organization should never underestimate the importance of internal communications. Employers tend to first think about how customers or potential customers will respond to news about their organization. It’s even more important that your employees understand and support your organization’s position or direction. Because they will be your best advocates. That’s particularly true for Community Medical Centers — with 7,000 employees and 1,100 affiliated physicians, our workforce is our most important and influential audience.
What was the best advice you ever received, Michelle?
Surround yourself with people you admire and can learn from — from the employees you hire to be part of your team, to relationships you develop outside your organization. Also, one of the most important things you can do to boost your career is to learn how to write well. Insightful, persuasive and diplomatic written communication is a powerful thing.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Michelle?
My roots in the Central Valley run pretty deep. I grew up in the Caruthers area — I went to the same elementary school and high school my parents and grandmother did. I completed by undergraduate degree at Fresno State and returned a few years ago to get my MBA.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Michelle?
Technically my first job was helping a neighbor clean her house. I think I was 12. She was so complimentary and appreciative. I remember how great it was to feel valued. It made me want to work harder and do an even better job. That’s such an important reminder for a leader.
What do you like to do in your free time, Michelle?
Our boys commandeer a lot of my free time and I’m happiest when I’m around them. But if I have an hour to myself I’m most likely reading. And, I almost always have a home-improvement project in the works.