1. What are the current trends in healthcare PR?
There are 4 trends that are significant for healthcare marketers and doctors to take note of and to align their PR approach and strategy to make it more effective.
a. In an age of rampant news broadcast across multiple media platforms, healthcare is among the sectors most prone to fake or false news outreach. Therefore, more than ever before educational content that builds better awareness and is credible. Thought leadership content by doctors on various medical/health issues and solutions or tips on ‘how to’ avoid, are what end customers really look out for. So, go beyond the scientific and medical jargons to simplify issues and educate people on these.
b. Lifestyle disorders are increasing at a pace that is proving to be difficult for even healthcare practitioners to catch up to. Even as stress intensive sectors like IT, face attrition of thousands of professionals every year due to lifestyle diseases and early health disorders, there is a growth among millennials and students in mental health and physiological disorders. This means preventive healthcare and awareness building on lifestyle diseases is likely to resonate with a majority of the masses.
c. New technology such as AI is transforming the way healthcare products and services are delivered, like in many other verticals. Healthcare institutions adopting advanced technology to deliver faster and better quality of treatments will continue to attract media and end consumer attention, while differentiation the institution.
d. And finally, in a digital age, communication and PR has got to be integrated and consistent across multiple platforms to ensure the outreach is more effective. Online patient reviews, engagement of patients and customers on social media channels and quick, active responses to their queries and comments and video marketing are all integral to a sustained, successful PR campaign for any hospital or healthcare institution.
2. Can you cite any successful healthcare PR campaign in the recent past?
For the world breastfeeding day campaign that we conceptualized for Apollo Cradle last year, we shifted the focus from the benefits of breastfeeding for infants and babies to focus on the benefits of doing so for mothers and how it improves their health and helps avoid other chronic diseases including 3 types of cancer. The educational nature of the content provided by a cross section of specialists including the gynaecologist, nutritionist and pediatrician, combined with both data and facts to validate as well as patient stories, helped garner significant media interest. What further enhanced the effectiveness of the campaign was the outreach to young mommy bloggers and social influencers across key cities, to telecast live videos and write blogs on the subject that were then cross promoted across social platforms, increasing the online and social media visibility for the brand.
3. Any tips on handling a crisis?
Crisis management is integral to any good healthcare PR, considering patient crisis is common and in the digital age, hospitals have very less control on reporting of patient issues and complaints. The sensitive nature of human life being at stake makes crisis handling most important components of healthcare PR. Key factors that will help prepare better for a crisis are:
1. Pre-decided crisis communication process and responsibility hierarchy as well as designation of spokesperson
2. Act fast to respond with a neutral but honest, factual statement before you take more time to collect facts, evidence, etc. and put out a detailed report. Expressing empathy and concern when patients are involved is very important.
3. Do not avoid media, be available to provide a response to at least state intentions of looking into it or provide transparency in how the issue is being handled
4. Depending on the nature if the crisis, you could assess if the company’s social media channels can be used as a broadcast platform to quickly provide a video recorded response.