Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Hospital Grassroots Marketing- Seven Ideas To Lead the Community Out Of The Pandemic

“Houston, we had a problem here,” is the correct quote made by Apollo 13 astronaut John Swigert not the ever-popular misquote, “Houston, we have a problem.” Though, “Huston we have a problem,” from the 1974 made-for-television movie, “Houston, we have a problem,” flows much nicer.

Fast forward to the SARS-CoV-2, 2020 pandemic, and it could easily be ‘Hospital, we have a problem.” I am not making light of the situation that hospitals and health systems find themselves in, but it points out the dilemma. And the difficulty is, how does the hospital lead the community in slowing the community spread of COVID-19?

With the lack of national and sometimes local pandemic strategy, the hospital needs to lead the community in partnership with local businesses to “slow the spread.”  A complicated messaging task but not necessarily impossible. Businesses have already started with the no shirt, no shoes, no face mask, no service. 

Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay

The effort required by the hospital is grassroots marketing.

Don’t confuse grassroots marketing with guerilla marketing.  The difference between the two is the audience and intent, even though some of the marketing techniques are the same. Grassroots marketing is also highly cost-effective, as you will rely heavily on social media.

The hospital, in grassroots marketing, is purposely targeting a specific audience or demographic group, in an attempt to persuade that group to propagate the hospital message on slowing the community spread of COVID-19.

The hospital needs to capitalize on existing social trends and allow direct interaction as a credible, believable source of information and education to slow the community spread.

Seven ideas for your grassroots marketing campaign. 

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

1.       Use emotional triggers to spread the word. COVID-19 wear a face mask, no I won’t wear a mask, and social distance and I won’t social distance is emotional triggers. The reason for focusing on these two is that wearing a face mask and social distancing is proven to work on slowing the community spread. 

2.       Create a PR buzz in social media. People are on social media and can where they can be found, period. It is where the hospital needs to be all in as well. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and other social media platforms are where the hospital needs to be if not already.  You need to be creative and attention-getting.  

3.       Be ready to capitalize on trending topics. Part of the grassroots campaign is to dispel as quickly as possible harmful or dangerous COVID-19 information. I am sorry to have to say this. Still, as I am writing, POTUS was at is again promoting ineffective and unsafe drug treatments, gaslighting his public health and disease experts, and misleading the American public about a cure. 

4.       Get creative with ambient ads. Ambient advertisements are ads that run in unusual locations or in a unique way. These types of ads stop people in their tracks, making them one of the most compelling examples of grassroots marketing. 

5.       Use tear-off flyers. I know that is old school, but it works, and this is where the partnership can come in between the hospital and local business. Tear-off flyers are cheap and effective, outside of the colored ink and perforation to spread the word. Be creative with the design, messaging, and offer. 

6.       Since social media and social sharing are a crucial component of grassroots marketing, you are going to have to rely on word-of-mouth. People trust the recommendations of family, friends, and other people they know.  Incentivize your “influencers” to share on social media and in social settings. Times are desperate, and there is no longer any safe or middle ground in the pandemic. The key here is not to be tone-deaf or insensitive with the message or optics. 

7.       Direct messaging. Taking word-of-mouth and social media efforts step further, direct messaging enhances communication. If you find the same people engaging with your posts or those of your influencers, send them a message.

The task at hand is to slow the community spread so that life can return to some normalcy. In the absence of a coherent national strategy, the hospital needs to follow the lead of business and lead their community out of the pandemic.

Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela from Pixabay

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Opinions expressed are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

What Is The Ongoing Role Of The Hospital In A Public Health Crisis?

Hint – it’s not treating the sick and dying, that is an existing role and expectation.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Hospital leadership can add the following to their already full plate trying to figure out how they will survive. 

·         Leading the community public health effort 

·         Being the credible source of truth 

·         Providing unbiased, scientifically accurate information for preventing the community spread of the disease 

·         Continuous, efficient, and effective patient and community engagement

It’s not over until it’s over.

As much as we all want the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to be over so we can return to some semblance of past normalcy, the facts indicate it is not going to happen anytime soon.  As reported daily, Coronavirus continues to spread unabated, creating hot spots overwhelming hospital, and healthcare resources. Hospitals that early on that experienced the pandemic, are beginning to see a resurgence to the virus.

Given the lack of a coherent national plan and response, it now falls rightly or wrongly, to the hospitals in the local community to take a far more active role in the leadership of the pandemic response to slow the community spread.

Isn’t that one of the core missions of the hospital, to improve the health and wellness of the community?

Earlier in the year (March 2020), I wrote about the step’s hospital needed to take in the communities to begin to get ahead of the pandemic.  One of the most pressing issues faced by hospital leaders is the ability to sustain leadership and engagement gains. Hospitals are working to return as best they can to what life was like pre-pandemic, and rightfully so. But in doing so, the trust, leadership, credibility, and engagement gains have fallen to the wayside and become secondary.

In light of the scientific ignorance, lack of national response, and gaslighting by elected federal and state politicians as to the dangers and prevention of COVID-19, it falls to the hospital to work actively to make a difference and slow the community spread, and preempt a resurgence.

Image from Pixabay

Ten ongoing marketing and public relations steps hospitals and health systems to take: 

1.       Maintain your web site for Coronavirus Updates current news and information with resources linked to CDC, your state and county health departments, and if in a large metropolitan area, the city’s public health department. 

2.       Use social media for continuous communication for updates on the hospitals or health systems activities related to Coronavirus virus prevention and the individual’s role in slowing the community spread or preventing a resurgence. 

3.       Engage your local media and offer up former Coronavirus patients as influencers on what happened to them as lessons for others for interviews. 

4.       Motivate your employees, admitting physicians, Broad members and volunteers to share what the hospital and health system is doing. The focus is on compliance and slowing the community spread. 

5.       Work who local businesses and provide the tools and taking necessary precautions in slowing the spread or casing a resurgence. 

6.       Be vigilant and monitor the stupid communicated in the community related to the Coronavirus, put out a statement to correct the misinformation. 

7.       Update the educational information sheets on the Coronavirus for use in community with churches, schools, libraries, community groups, first responders, etc., for material distribution. 

8.       Get your speakers, patients, families, nurses, doctors, and other influencers out into the community talking about prevention and treatment. 

9.       Inform your community on the hospital or health system consistent pandemic prevention efforts activities and preparations. 

10.   Be the trusted and reliable source of news and information in your community related to the Coronavirus.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is not going away anytime soon. With the fall flu season rapidly approaching, the hospital needs to be the leader in the community.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Opinions expressed are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.


Monday, July 13, 2020

Hospital Community Leadership For Ongoing SARS-CoV-2 Information. The Time Is Now.

Well, in all honesty, the stupid was held back for eight weeks when the pandemic was early in the community spread of COVID-19 with the economic shutdown, shelter-in-place, and the wearing of facemasks messages. During the initial outbreak, hospitals did a remarkable job communicating with patients, community, government, employees, leading as a credible source of news and information regarding COVID-19.

Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela from Pixabay

These efforts faced significant headwinds due to officials in Washington and state capitals around the country gaslighting the public, contradicting health experts, and spreading false information. Unfortunately, this continues today with an added chorus of celebrity and “conspiracy news” websites declaring the pandemic a hoax and the wearing of facemasks futile.

Phase I of the pandemic is not over.

The grim reality is that the community spread of COVID-19 is resurging again, with new records for positive tests set daily. Hospital ICUs in COVID-19 hotspots are over capacity, and PPE supplies are dwindling.  Even states that took a carefully planned approach to reopen are beginning to experience an increase in COVID-19 cases.   

I get it that we all want to move along and send marketing messages that the hospital has reopened for business.  The need to revive utilization needs to be balanced with the health and wellness mission of the hospital in the community. It’s about taking responsibility and being the leader. The hospital as the source of credible news and information regarding COVID-19, in preventing community and countering false information and promote safe practices such as wearing a facemask and social distancing

The hospital could be returning to pre-reopening conditions.

Amid the seemingly unending tragedy and despair of the pandemic, people need the right potentially life-saving information, not the stupidity of gaslighting officials, the scientifically illiterate, and conspiracy theorists.

While the hospital is reopening, the community engagement practiced during the pandemic must continue with the reposing messages.

It is about continuing education and crisis communication messaging.

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.

The hospital efforts all come down to continuing the educational and crisis communication activities. 

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, PR crisis communications, remember. 

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. 

Image by skeeze from Pixabay 

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.” 

Tomorrow will never be the same, but it can be different from the past when we are were all caught unprepared.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Opinions expressed are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.


Monday, July 6, 2020

Because Of COVID-19, Continuous Ongoing Patient Engagement Is The New Reality

Hospitals and health systems, as a direct result of the pandemic, needed to engage patients, employees, and the community continuously. Messages were varied for each audience, but the current situation provided the opportunity as never before for the continuous engagement of the patient on a meaningful level. There is no reason why those engagement efforts should stop.

What should be apparent in the new reality of healthcare, as an unintended consequence of the ongoing pandemic is that patient engagement is not a part-time or some of the time activity. What it should be viewed as is the opportunity to continue to create, engage, foster, and nourish an enduring relationship with those individuals and families.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How healthcare is delivered changed exponentially, and now looks more like a distributive computer network, where the diagnosis and treatment were “distributed” out of the hospital or system. Patients had a taste of the new healthcare reality, for example, with telemedicine that was easily accessible, convenient, effective, and affordable. As a result, most hospitals and physicians are struggling with getting patients to return for care. Some of the disappearing patients are attributed to fear, others out of having experienced alternative methods for care that better met their needs.

The old ways of engagement don’t work anymore.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay

That is a scary proposition for some healthcare organizations. I have already seen the old pre-pandemic engagement messaging come back in the urban market of my residence.  It’s almost as if nothing ever happened, and we can all go back now to the way it was.

The Coronavirus pandemic is still a public health crisis. The patient hears that intense messaging across all sources of news and social media day in and day out.  With fear, anxiety, and uncertainty in their mind, why would you change your COVID-19 engagement and messaging strategies? 

You can’t abandon the recent efforts and success at engagement and return to the past.

The continuous ongoing engagement of the hospital and health system with patients should now be the number one job of the hospital.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Opinions expressed are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.