Not since the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 has the world seen such a public health crisis as COVID-19. Now at the brink of systemic healthcare system failure for a variety of reasons, now more than ever, hospital and health system marketing and public relations departments to step up even more then they have been.
Up until recently, it's been a game of catch-up in healthcare marketing and PR as COVID-19 impacts communities across the world. Hospitals and health systems adapt to making decisions and moving forward on the fly, marketing and PR need to as well. That doesn’t mean running ahead but making sure that marketing and PR efforts and the channels employed are lockstep with the reality of the pandemic surge.
It’s a learning curve for sure, and everyone is doing the best they can.
What you do today in marketing and public relations will set up the hospital and health system for the future. The Coronavirus crisis will come to an end. Amid the seemingly unending tragedy and despair of the pandemic, people need hope. The need to know the hospital is doing the best it can. People need hope and know that the doctors, nurses, and other caregivers are doing all that is reasonably possible in this time of need.
There are only two paths in the COVID-19 pandemic for hospital marketing and PR.
The marketing and PR messaging of the hospital and health system should flow along two simultaneous lines. One is educational by providing information and teaching what the individual and the community role in slowing the community spread of COVID-19. The other is treating every message as part of your crisis communications.
For the educational marketing and PR mission.
1. Use social media for continuous communication for updates on the hospitals or health systems activities related to Coronavirus virus preparations and things the public should know.
2. Work internally with your employees, admitting physicians, Broad members, and volunteers to share what the hospital and health system is doing.
3. When you hear or become aware of stupid related to the Coronavirus, put out a statement to correct the misinformation.
4. Create easy to read and digestible educational information sheets on the Coronavirus for use in the community.
5. Back to heavy digital and social media use as it’s the fastest method of information distribution and sharing to reach large numbers of people.
6. Run print ads, cable spots; radio ads were available and compatible with your messaging.
7. Message your community with status updates regularly in the messaging.
8. Become the trusted and reliable source of news and information in your community related to the Coronavirus.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask the community for help.
For the second mission for marketing and PR in crisis communications.
1. Effective crisis communications are grounded in credible sources. Credibility is about trustworthiness and expertise, as well as a perceived sense of morality.
2. Be honest to reduce rumors. Effective crisis communications are frequent, accurate and it does not over-reassure.
3. Aim for meaningful actions. Effective communications during a crisis involve persuading people to take harm-reducing steps.
4. Draw from experts, not amateurs. Effective communications during a crisis draw on the knowledge of subject-matter experts.
5. Be consistent. Consistency of messages is the final and maybe the most critical factor.
As Charles Dickens writes at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Working together as one, what you do today sets you up for the future when there is no pandemic, and the crisis has passed.
Tomorrow will never be the same.
Tags: #hospital #crisiscommunications #strategy #coronavirus #publicrelations #marketing