In the middle of a pandemic, public health is top of mind for everyone. In order to make discussions about public health more accessible, PR agency Thunder 11 took to the airwaves.

The result is the Public Health podcast, which debuted in late May. The podcast’s two co-hosts, siblings Ryan Birchmeier and Kate Fendler, work in two areas of healthcare. Birchmeier is a VP at Thunder 11 and Fendler is a nurse practitioner. They often found themselves having in-depth conversations about the state of healthcare, which spurred the thought, “Does everyone else have these conversations, too?”

“She and I were always talking about healthcare, albeit from different perspectives,” Birchmeier said. “The more we had these conversations around healthcare, the more we realized these were conversations that everyone was having, that healthcare touches all of us. COVID-19 supercharged that sentiment. We all found ourselves being public health experts in the middle of a pandemic.”

Every episode, the co-hosts interview a professional from a different area of healthcare. In its first three episodes, they shared perspectives from an emergency room nurse on the frontlines of COVID-19, a marketing leader from a university research center and a patient advocate for cancer.

The goal is to help the public understand what goes on in healthcare, by hearing stories from people in different facets of the industry. They give a behind the scenes look at their work, discuss current events and more. The team wants to make complex industry more accessible because “talking about healthcare is not inside baseball, talking about healthcare is talking about all of our lives,” Birchmeier said.

In fact, Public Health’s second episode focused on healthcare marketers, giving an inside look at the job for those who may not understand what they do. The hosts interviewed a marketer for The West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute.

“Healthcare marketers are always standing in the background,” Birchmeier said. “We want to show they are part of a healthcare organization and absolutely essential. They also have a unique purview into how the organization runs; the unique perspective of getting to see nearly all facets of organization that other functions in healthcare don’t. We intentionally made sure that marketers’ stories are told as well.”

The podcast is also a tool for Thunder 11 to share its clients’ stories. During a time when the media landscape is dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests following the death of George Floyd, getting a client out there has become even tougher.

Because of the current state of media and the world, Thunder 11 began thinking differently about telling clients’ stories.

“The firm decided there was an opportunity to think creatively and rethink the way we were telling these stories,” Birchmeier said. “We are continuously inspired and energized by conversations we have with our clients and are always leaving the conversations with so much motivation to find ways to tell those stories. They are doing such compelling work that is literally impacting the future of our lives. Because we’re so inspired by the conversations we’re having, we wanted to emulate that format with the podcast.”