Healthcare PR Strategies As Covid Rules Change

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in all industries but has made life especially difficult for those in the healthcare sector. This is especially true when it comes to conveying accurate medical information to the public. The rules surrounding the pandemic constantly change!

In this article, we explore the various PR strategies that your healthcare firm should implement during this trying time.

Back to the Basics

Media outlets rely on trusted and respected medical experts to convey accurate information regarding COVID-19. Public relations firms also need to follow the science and guidance provided by the medical community in order to develop strategies about messaging. Conveying accurate information that evolves rather quickly about COVID-19 on a timely basis is a big responsibility.

Accuracy and Sensitivity are Key

Although mortality rates differ across the world, one thing is for certain. A lot of people have lost loved ones to COVID-19. This pandemic causes not only physical strain and emotional trauma, but also financial burdens to millions of families.

PR firms need to provide communication compassionately and clearly. It’s important to convey statistics and other relevant information while keeping the reality of this pandemic’s destruction in mind.

Statistics regarding infection and death tolls are always changing. As such, health industry communication requires greater accuracy compared to other industries. So, when it comes to PR, you need to fact-check your information thoroughly. This ensures that what you are saying is up to date and accurate.

Abide by the Rules

All healthcare facilities adhere to strict protocols. These are regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and other healthcare agencies.

You need to abide by certain rules and regulations set forth by these institutions. Any promotions for treatments or medicines are usually prohibited. Or, there are often significant restrictions placed on these products with regards to what you can claim they do.

Understanding the medical terms as well and the science behind them helps demonstrate your firm’s expertise. Having a point person in the organization to lead the communications processes will also help you to better convey technical medical terms to the general public.

COVID-19: Adapting Your PR Strategy On The Fly

Communicate New COVID-19 Policies to Healthcare Staff First

The COVID-19 onslaught comes in waves. As such, frequent policy changes are being made to help manage the effects of the pandemic. The more we learn about the COVID-19 virus, the more accurately we can mitigate its effects. But, this also means that nothing is set in stone.

To keep track of all these changes, healthcare facilities need to regularly distribute updated internal communication strategies. It is important to do this before any outside communication takes place. This ensures that all healthcare workers are always on the same page regarding protocol.

For this to happen, it would be best to adopt a multichannel internal communication strategy. This way, you can incorporate various tools like mobile and desktop alert apps. You can reach your staff in numerous ways and help to transition your entire workforce to new policies seamlessly.

Allow Employees and Patients to ask Questions

Employees, like patients, often have a lot of questions. It is important to address inquiries regarding employment, vacation, sick leave, and other internal policies. If this doesn’t happen, ignored questions can often lead to fear or panic within an organization.

If possible, communication teams should have a dedicated channel to address internal concerns surrounding the pandemic. This will enable a rapid response to important queries that could affect the health and wellbeing of your workforce.

In a similar fashion, patient queries should also be attended to as fast as possible. Patients often have questions about protocol when it comes to testing, symptoms, and vaccinations. By having strong communications both online and in-person, healthcare workers can reassure their patients and clearly communicate protocol.

Create Informative and Interesting COVID-19 Content

Relate to your audience through story-telling techniques. Create informative, accurate, and interesting content about COVID-19 on your website and social channels. This is one of the best ways to keep the public educated because they will want to engage with interesting content.

By uploading this content to your own online platform, you can update it whenever you need to. This means that it will stay relevant. And, you can add to it as time progresses and new developments arise.

In Conclusion

Being in the healthcare industry is no easy feat during a pandemic and it’s easy to neglect PR. But, as COVID-19 rules continue to change, you need to focus on your strategies to keep both the public and your workers up to date.

Nick Luvera

How Public Relations Can Help Healthcare Providers

Expert public relations is a much-needed service in the healthcare industry. Not only does it lift the burden of marketing and press off your healthcare providers’ shoulders so they can do what they do best.

Doctors, surgeons, practitioners, psychologists, dentists, and various other healthcare providers can all benefit from top-notch medical PR services. Join us as we delve into all the benefits that a PR agency can offer healthcare providers.

What is Healthcare Public Relations?

To know how a great public relations strategy can benefit healthcare providers, you need to know exactly what PR is all about. PR refers to a strategic communications strategy that cultivates a positive relationship between your company and the public.

Public Relationship agencies assist individuals, organizations, or companies by helping them craft a messaging and media plan.

They convey the company’s story, services, and products in a positive light through unpaid or earned media. These media channels can include social media, traditional media, press releases, public speaking or other channels.

Why PR is Important in the Healthcare Sector

In this digital age, brand perception relating to vital services is extremely important – especially in the healthcare sector. For modern healthcare providers to provide top-notch care for patients, they need to have positive relationships with their clients. Articulating a clear message to a target audience about service specialties, special announcements, crisis communications or expansion plans can all help build or restore public trust.

Your reputation is often built through word of mouth. But, if you truly want to grow your practice, you should also pursue other advertising avenues. This can include things like online reviews and digital advertising.

Ultimately, who your patients say you are and what they believe about you matters a great deal.

In the ideal world, your perceived reputation should match the outstanding work you do on a daily basis. However, healthcare providers seldom have the time to manage the external reputation of their practice. They are too busy fostering the relationships they have already established and caring for patients. This is exactly where the professional services of a PR agency or firm come into play.

How Healthcare Providers Can Benefit from Public Relations

Healthcare providers can benefit from professional public relations services in the following ways.

Cultivating Your Brand

Every healthcare practitioner knows that their reputation decides a big part of their own professional fate. Having someone that can offer professional PR services can help you to build your brand around the values most important to their practices.

By understanding and adequately utilizing all of the media channels available to you by means of articles, statements, reviews, and interviews, you will be able to create positive publicity around your brand.

PR professionals often have lots of great connections in the media industry and know how to work with them in order to promote the message or campaign. This can help to put your brand on the map, garner interest in what you offer, and allow you to keep up with your competition.

Growing Your Business

A strong brand is one that:

  • educates its patients
  • provides reliable information about what is happening in the healthcare sector
  • and has a solid reputation

These characteristics make it easier to attract new customers and nourish existing relationships.

For this to happen, there need to be good strategies in place. These need to be integrated within your healthcare practice. This can be time-consuming. But, it’s well worth the effort as it can lead to a bigger revenue in the long run.

Ultimately, growing your business is key to appointing more people and making a bigger impact in the industry. It will also help you to connect your services to those that really need them.

Greater Credibility

A lot of public relations announcements published by news media organizations are conveyed as news pieces. Potential patients usually view these news snippets as highly credible largely. This is because the story in question is being elevated by the reputation of the presenter or news companies themselves.

Commercial publicity, such as direct mail or conventional advertising, is usually not as convincing in terms of its credibility. One’s audience is usually less receptive to the overall message you are trying to convey if they don’t place a lot of trust in the source it comes from.

So, hiring a PR firm that can tap into credible platforms in the medical or healthcare field is highly beneficial.

In a Nutshell

When it comes down to it, professional public relations services are important for healthcare providers. So, it’s important to leave brand management and PR to those with years of experience under their belt and let your healthcare professionals focus on what they do best. This will help you embark on a winning strategy that will benefit both your patients and your employees.

Nick Luvera

5 Healthcare Public Relations Best Practices

Any successful healthcare public relations campaign aims to get a company’s name in front of its relevant public. This can prove challenging if the content isn’t necessarily newsworthy on its own. 

Here are five healthcare public relations best practices that will help build the foundation to achieve strategic communications results in the health tech industry. 

1. Choose the best spokesperson and don’t neglect media training

Your efforts will be most effective if they manage to cut through the clutter and connect a passionate representative with an audience who can learn from what they have to say. Get to know the key figures in the company you represent and use your instincts to identify an individual who sparks the perfect balance between knowledge and enthusiasm. 

We all know by now that reporters are not interested in monotonous statements and healthcare subject matter has the potential to come across as highly technical. With a great spokesperson, you can regularly provide good news stories that communicate a company’s key messages while providing information to an engaged audience. Invest time into preparing this spokesperson to be able to interact with the media in a way that is authentic and articulate. 

2. Pitch a story, not a product

This is the ultimate arena in which a PR practitioner’s storytelling abilities can shine. Make full use of the information available to you by leveraging patient stories and current trending topics to add emotional depth to what a client has to offer. Even if the release is intended to announce a new technology or service, public relations professionals should bring the content back to how the innovation will serve people. Because at the end of the day, that is the purpose and priority of healthcare work. 

Incorporate visuals wherever possible by providing patient interviews or high-quality assets with a release. This makes a journalist’s job easier by starting the process of illustrating and giving shape to a story. A compelling patient story will often speak louder than the most impressive statistics and present healthcare wins in a way that grabs the attention of the public. 

3. Know your goals and act accordingly

Most areas of healthcare PR incorporate the same overarching methods, including social media and media relations, but you don’t want to get caught up in a strategy that isn’t targeted toward the company’s expected outcome. For example, if a product is marketed B2B, then dedicating most of your efforts toward a public-facing social media account isn’t likely to show the desired increases in revenue because it’s not well-matched. Be sure to outline where clients hope to see themselves six to 12 months out from the start of a program to know that you are focusing in the right direction from the jump and position accordingly.

4. Stay on top of relevant awards

In the healthcare world, it carries a great deal of weight to be recognized by influential publications and associations. If a client’s product or actions qualify for an award from a notable outlet then it is well worth it to throw their name into the ring to earn acknowledgment for innovative work. This usually involves an entry fee, but the authority and trust that comes with an award-winning product or service have the potential to carry a healthcare company’s name further than organic coverage alone. This also expands the list of newsworthy angles for releases and gives a greater likelihood of recognition to your client’s name when a pitch comes across a reporter’s desk. 

Proactive PR professionals would be wise to keep an up-to-date and extensive list of relevant industry awards, including the submission windows and event information available to them in order to round out an integrated communications strategy. Set reminders to check in on this information to avoid missing deadlines and give clients plenty of time to prepare assets to include in each entry. 

5. Amplify and leverage materials across available channels

From traditional news to social media to company communications, most of us gather our daily information from an endless number of sources. It is essential for healthcare public relations professionals to repurpose materials across each of the necessary channels to have the best opportunities for exposure. Since healthcare involves a wide range of information formats, from research and data to visual patient stories, there is plenty of content to share in releases, social media, newsletters and more. The overlap is encouraged and will provide an endless number of ways to rework a story and keep audiences engaged.

When distributing press releases, avoid popular times for distribution (Mondays – Thursdays from 6 a.m.-8 a.m. EST) and increase visibility by reaching reporters when they’re looking for news. It is incredibly valuable to build relationships with your ideal media targets on social media channels as well. Find the people who are talking about the topics that matter most to your specific healthcare industry client and engage with or follow them on Twitter to easily stay up to date with what they’re thinking about and what they might want to cover next. Many reporters will even list their email in their Twitter bio to indicate that they’re open to tips.

We hope these public relations best practices will help guide your communications strategies as you navigate the world of healthcare and biotech. 

Check out our previous healthcare public relations best practices work  and contact us today to learn more about how we can help elevate your healthcare PR strategy.

Nick Luvera

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Make us your first call if you’re launching a new product or service, re-branding or encounter a need for media relations or crisis communications. We’re here for you:

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