Given the extraordinary competing needs in healthcare organizations to meet the new reality of the healthcare market place from EMRs to employed physician, too new treatment and diagnostic modalities and declining reimbursements, marketing gets the short straw most of the time in those resource allocation decisions. And that is a dangerous position to be in when a market is evolving to a semi-retail, consumer-centric model.
But when you have constrained marketing resources, and you have to have a continuous presence in the market place to shift healthcare consumer’s attitudes, preferences and choices, the triple combination of earned media, public relations and social media working in a strategic, integrated fashion can achieve that end for you.
Make no mistake about it, combining social media, public relations and earned media is hard. It is much more than a press release or an event. You have to develop relationships with reporters. You have to plant and cultivate story ideas. You have to respond to reporters request for more information. It takes time. It takes patience in a period of time where all we ask on a daily basis is, "What did you do for me today?"
You need to find ways for reporters and editors to follow your tweets. They have to be exposed to your blog or your company pages on LinkedIn, YouTube or facebook. That’s the value in earned media and public relations by integrating those efforts with social media. It becomes your ability to establish a powerful continuous presence by expending human resources with the talent in your marketing operation not financial. And the payoff by combining the three in an integrated strategic fashion can be huge.
Earned media and public relations driving social media have value.
All that content that goes online comes from somewhere and has to go somewhere. A reporter has to write it. A network broadcaster has to cover it. Columnists look for it. It goes out on facebook, web sites, YouTube, twitter and electronic / print editions of magazines, daily newspapers and specialty publications.
Earned media and public relations can become viral in social media because it has so many different outlets. When a news outlet or publication carries your brand messages, it makes what you are doing seem more believable. Once the story runs about a topic and you're the first, it's much harder for your competitors to get out there with the same message. A powerful way to differentiate yourself which also has a considerable number of aftermarket uses.
There is a bigger payoff too.
Every organization will experience a communications crisis. Taking the time to develop positive relationships with reporters, blog writers, broadcast media and others has a big payoff in a media driven crisis. The development and cultivation of a relationship with media doesn't mean that the story won't run. But what it can mean is the difference between a story that is balanced and fairly reported, versus a story that is one-sided against you. As we all know, negative news about travels farther and faster than positive news, which does more harm than good over the long haul.
So, maybe it's time to rethink in an era of declining healthcare marketing resources traditional marketing activities, to changing your markets with earned media, public relations and social media?
Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pheed