Tight security kept Renown’s name under wraps for weeks
October 2, 2006
A few weeks ago, an employee of the organization then known as Washoe Medical Center was surprised to find managers standing at her cubicle, sentry-like, when she arrived for work.
They firmly instructed the worker to open her computer’s e-mail, find a specific document, delete it without opening it, then dump the file of deleted e-mails from the computer.
Security was tight in the weeks leading up to the announcement of a new name Renown Health for the organization, and the surprised employee had inadvertently been included in an e-mail distribution containing the new name.
The reason for the hush surrounding the name? The organization wanted to make sure its employees heard the name first, and heard it from the hospital’s leadership, says Phyllis Freyer, vice president of marketing communications.
“We wanted to create a memorable event for them,” she says.
For months before the name was rolled out in late September, only about a dozen carefully screened people within the organization knew the new name.
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They signed confidentiality agreements Freyer jokes that one of the agreements threatened that the fingernails of offenders would be removed and got special training. They avoided leaving the new name on their computer screens. They didn’t leave it on their desks when they left for a few minutes. They locked their desks and offices at night.
“It was absolutely on a need-to-know basis,” Freyer says, noting the number of people in on the secret grew in the last days as more needed to handle chores such as envelope-stuffing.
At the same time, Freyer and her team were working with printers and other vendors who supplied everything from new name tags to the plastic newspaper bags used by Reno Gazette-Journal carriers on Sunday.
In some instances, out-of-town suppliers were used because they didn’t care about the surprise.
Local suppliers, meanwhile, were selected in part on their ability to keep the secret.
“Most of them were exceptional,” Freyer says.
Newspapers and radio stations also kept the secret, at least until the last few hours before the announcement, although a number of them had heard the new name would be “Renown Health.”
Freyer’s team, however, wouldn’t confirm the new name with reporters, cooling most of them until the formal announcement.