South Florida Hospital News
Thursday December 14, 2017
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August 2010 - Volume 7 - Issue 2

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Hiring an Outside PR/Marketing Firm Can Be a Cost Effective Choice

It’s no secret that aggressive marketing is critical to driving new business to hospitals in the South Florida market. One need only drive down I-95 or the Florida Turnpike and count the number of billboards advertising a service line or ER wait times, not to mention the TV ads, health fairs and lecture series. One cost effective method of getting your message across is the use of public relations, or getting third party endorsement for to promote your service lines and staff.

Some hospitals implement a strategy that incorporates PR into their overall marketing plan, while others with smaller budgets, may rely primarily on public relations to get their message out. The question is whether it should be kept in house, outsourced, or a combination of both. A lot of that depends on staffing, budgets and philosophy.
 
A hospital would partner with a PR agency for various reasons. In some cases, it’s to support the marketing director who doesn’t have the time or expertise to handle the public relations function. In other circumstances, a hospital might have good PR capabilities, but requires extra manpower to execute a specific campaign or temporary help focusing on a short-term campaign.
 
PR agencies can provide a lot of value. Fees can range from as low as $3,000 per month for several hours of work in that time frame. If an agency is doing its job, it should be able to generate news coverage that is up to three or four times the value of what they are getting paid. And for that fee, you can expect to have a team of people working on your account, all with their own unique media contacts and experiences that generate results.
 
If you are debating whether to bring a seasoned communications expert in-house or go outside, consider this. It would likely cost you much more for a full-time salary and benefits than what you would pay annually for an outside consultant. Another point to be made is that a firm concentrates on doing nothing but delivering positive media coverage, whereas a full-time employee may get diverted to other pressing tasks, thus taking their attention away from doing the very job he or she was hired for.
 
Outside PR consultants can also bring value by reviewing your marketing efforts with an independent eye and offering a fresh perspective. Because PR firms represent clients in various industries they generally have more contacts than in-house communications folks, and thereby are able to spread your messages to broader audiences. In addition, many firms offer crisis communications consulting in addition to traditional media relations work, which could prove invaluable if you ever find yourself thrust into a media crisis.
 
Another area consultants are bringing value is in the social media arena. Many in-house staff don’t possess the knowledge, patience or time to take advantage of this influential communication tool, so partnering with someone who has the expertise and manpower to pull it off can prove to be very effective.
 
Before hiring a PR consultant, you should first figure out what your PR goals are and then set reasonable expectations. Each hospital is different when it comes to setting performance metrics. Some base the value on how much new business might be generated while others are more concerned with building an image and reputation in the community. Whatever your specific communications goals are, an outside consultant can be a valuable and cost-effective solution in helping you get to where you want and deserve to be.
Todd Templin, Executive Vice President of Boardroom Communications, can be reached at (954) 370-8999 or ttemplin@boardroompr.com.
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