Why should healthcare organizations bother with a strategic public relations program?
Too many healthcare organizations are hesitant to embrace a full-fledged public relations program. Many are fearful that members of the media – who are under enormous pressure to produce, edit, write, tweet and post click-worthy content on tight deadlines – may misunderstand or unintentionally misconstrue a story. They’re also afraid of being penalized for HIPAA violations (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) if a patient who didn’t sign a HIPAA form agreement is accidentally caught on camera in a healthcare setting. Last, there is an inherent fear of losing control of messaging via social media platforms and online news outlets that encourage open-ended commentary from the public.
Healthcare organizations that not proactively invested in supporting an integrated marketing program with a comprehensive public relations strategy are missing out, big-time. Here’s why.
Positive new stories improve your brand’s reputation, which converts new customers
PR teams have more opportunities than ever to leverage positive news stories via their owned communication channels, which are frequently visited by patients and prospects. Your prospective patients and customers are looking for news about you, whether you’re proactively managing your online reputation or not.
Ninety-four percent of prospective patients said the reputation of a facility is important in their hospital selection (source: Google) and 77 percent of health service seekers started their search online at a search engine. Whether you’re amplifying a morning broadcast segment, a bylined article from your CEO or a recent news release about an award, your online communication channels can help you amplify positive news coverage to improve your healthcare organization’s reputation and bring in new customers.
With the right messaging, you can convert reporters into advocates
There’s no question about it: It can be very difficult for someone who has never pitched the media to get attention from reporters, let alone know how to package a specific story angle and guide a reporter through the most appropriate way to cover that story angle. But collaborating with an objective reporter can be invaluable in terms of raising awareness about your organization’s impact and leveraging your thought leaders with consumers. When implemented effectively with an experienced team, a public relations program has the power to sway public opinion and improve brand reputation.
As audiences become more aware of the powers that be in the world of business, they’re getting better at snooping out paid ads and are gaining a greater appreciation for authentically earned media stories. Reporters too will come to appreciate the value of a strong partnership with an organization that encourages its industry experts to comment on trending news stories, recent studies and new technologies.
The easier you can make a reporter’s job by providing comprehensive and timely pitches accompanied with supporting background information, the more likely a reporter will be to want to work with you and share your organization’s stories. Reporters also appreciate your help in sharing their stories with your audiences, as this helps with their personal branding efforts.
Populating your channels with news content is the first step to cultivating a community
Engaging your online communities is essential to growing your brand. Positive news content will help your organization stay fresh and relevant in the minds of your greatest advocates, who will share your news content with their friends and family members. 90 percent of adults 18-24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks (source: PwC Health Research Institute) and 41 percent of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility (source: DC Interactive Group).
PR content should be spread across communication channels and can live in many places – from a website’s landing page to its newsroom page, blog, e-newsletter, Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, etc. Where ever your patients and prospects are looking for healthcare advice or insight into your organization is where you need to be amplifying your news content.
With time, you’ll come to see media relations as an essential component to connecting with your audiences – both via your existing news channels and via the media outlets with which you’re collaborating. Greater visibility will yield greater conversions and a stronger brand reputation, which will help ensure your organization’s growth and longevity now and into the future.
For more information about Co-Communications’ healthcare services, visit healthcare marketing services page.