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.
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.