Hazelden Betty Ford Leader Melissa Fors Named Nonprofit Marketer of the Year
American Marketing Association recognizes innovative efforts to reach more people affected by addiction
Center City, Minn. (Oct. 8, 2019) – Amid the addiction crisis that has become America’s No. 1 public health problem, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is reaching and treating more people than ever, thanks in part to a transformed marketing approach that has earned Vice President of Marketing Strategy Melissa Fors the American Marketing Association’s National Nonprofit Marketer of the Year award.
The award, which recognizes one national nonprofit marketer annually for extraordinary leadership and achievement, is the highest honor bestowed on nonprofit marketing professionals by the AMA and its Foundation.
“Under Melissa’s leadership, Hazelden Betty Ford’s marketing arm has quickly evolved into a forward-focused, customer-centric enterprise in support of our lifesaving mission,” said Mark Mishek, president and CEO of Hazelden Betty Ford, the nation’s leading nonprofit addiction treatment provider. “Her particular blend of enthusiasm, collaboration and clear vision has enabled our organization to help more people find freedom from addiction than ever before. I am grateful to have leaders like her on our team.”
Under Fors’ leadership, the 70-year-old organization has fully embraced the data-driven, digital marketing revolution—with record-setting, lifesaving results. In 2018, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation served 23,464 patients, the most in the treatment center’s history and 10,000 more than in 2013, when Fors joined the organization.
The recognition from the AMA also highlights Fors’ leadership in promoting transparent, ethical marketing practices in an industry beset in recent years by fraudulent and deceptive sales tactics. Her efforts to educate consumers about ethical and quality services have included:
- Highlighting Hazelden Betty Ford’s certification by LegitScript, the preeminent online monitoring service of treatment providers which is relied upon by Google, Bing and Facebook to vet advertisers for legitimacy;
- Showcasing on www.hazeldenbettyford.org the organization’s licensures, accreditations and certifications to illustrate adherence to the highest professional standards;
- Calling attention to Hazelden Betty Ford’s membership in the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, a respected trade group with a robust ethics code to which all members must comply;
- Writing and speaking publicly on the topic of ethical marketing in the addiction treatment industry; and
- Promoting and contributing to Hazelden Betty Ford’s broader initiative to push for addiction treatment industry reforms.
A veteran marketing leader, Fors has worked in the health care arena for more than 10 years. Shortly after starting in her current role, Fors found herself at the helm of a once-in-a-career rebranding initiative, as the merger of Hazelden and the Betty Ford Center brought together two iconic nonprofit treatment brands to form the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. She and her team championed the acquisition and implementation of new tools and processes for content development and management, customer relationship management, web analytics, search engine marketing and more. In doing so, they successfully introduced the new Hazelden Betty Ford brand to consumers, professionals, policymakers and the world—this time with a consumer-centric approach and data-informed digital user experience.
“I am grateful to the American Marketing Association for recognizing the important work of nonprofit organizations like ours and the lifesaving difference we work hard to make every day,” added Fors. “Our team has reshaped the user experience through new analytical and content marketing tools, with a keen focus on search engine optimization and a heart for meeting customers where they are—which, in our case, is typically online searching for answers and help at all hours of day or night. With the addiction crisis bringing unprecedented suffering to individuals, families and communities everywhere, it is more imperative than ever that we are right there with answers and help whenever, wherever and however people reach out for information or assistance.”
“In an industry pressured by extreme need and shrinking margins, balancing mission and margin is critical,” Mishek added. “Melissa’s leadership in introducing modern marketing tools, tactics and functions has improved the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s health, reach and impact and positioned us to serve more people and save more lives today and tomorrow.”