Sunday, April 5, 2015

Is it time for hospitals to go back to the future with earned media & public relations?

Given the extraordinary competing needs in healthcare organizations to meet the new reality of the healthcare market place  shifting from volume to value, it appears that marketing still gets the short straw resource in allocation decisions. 

In a market evolving into semi-retail, consumer-centric model, and growing public relations issues of hospitals being seen increasingly as the bad guy, because of unjustifiably high prices and lack of transparency, short changing marketing can in the long run hurt the healthcare enterprise.

But when there are constrained marketing resources to shift healthcare consumer’s attitudes, preferences and choices, what are the options? One way is through a combination of earned media and active public relations.

Make no mistake about it, combining 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 we are all asked on a daily basis "What did marketing do for the healthcare enterprise today?"

That’s the value in earned media and public relations. It becomes your ability to establish a powerful continuous presence by focusing the talent in your marketing operation in a channel that is complimentary to the overall effort, is very measurable and has a high ROI.

Earned media and public relations have value.

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.  Earned media and PR is a powerful way to differentiate which also has a considerable number of uses in social media.

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 and traditional marketing activities, to changing your markets with earned media and public relations again. Especially as hospitals are being increasingly seen the bad guy in healthcare along with insurers and pharma.

What’s old is new.

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