Given the extraordinary competing needs in hospitals to meet the of the healthcare marketplace 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 with a healthcare market that is a semi-retail, consumer-centric model with numerous consumer choices available for diagnosis and treatment that are far more convenient, accessible and affordable than a hospital setting.
When you have constrained marketing resources, with the requirement to have a continuous presence in the marketplace to shift healthcare consumer’s attitudes, preferences and choices, the triple combination of earned media, public relations and social media working in an integrated strategic 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. It’s about relationships, experience. Outreach and having content and information of value. That means understanding the needs of your stakeholders in an omnichannel world by developing content that meets their needs, not the need of the hospital to tell them how great the hospital with its shiny new building is, technology or smiling doctors looking skyward.
One needs to develop relationships with consumers and reporters to plant and cultivate story ideas. You must respond to reporters request for more information. It takes time. It takes patience in a period where all we ask daily, "What did you do for me today?" The payoff is providing across three channels of content that provides value. Value-focused content that gives the reporter and the healthcare consumer the reason why it’s you.
You need to find ways for reporters and editors to follow your tweets. Reporters can follow 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 expanding human resources with the talent in your marketing operation with little financial outflow. 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 goes somewhere. A reporter writes. A network broadcaster covers. Columnists look for it. Content that goes out on Facebook, websites, YouTube, Twitter and electronic/print editions of magazines, daily newspapers, and specialty publications.
With the right content and strategy, public relations can become viral in social media because it has so many different outlets which turn into earned media due to the coverage. 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 don't mean 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.
Maybe it's time to rethink in an era of declining healthcare marketing resources traditional marketing activities, or flavor of the day social media strategies, to approaching your markets with a triple aim of earned media, public relations and social media?
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in 52 countries and listed on the As an expert in digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is an established influencer. Inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.
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