South Florida Hospital News
Thursday November 23, 2017
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December 2011 - Volume 8 - Issue 6

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Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing – Back to the Future

Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations have never been more exciting, diverse or moved at a faster pace. The additions of digital advertising and social media have heightened the urgency for immediate action. A traditional marketing campaign that would take months to develop and roll out can now be conceived and executed nearly instantaneously. Copy updates and information releases are immediate. We live in a ‘need to know right now society’ with people literally reaching for their cell phone to find answers on the spot. To compete with that kind of expectation, we have to be on our game. It’s critical for websites to be easy to navigate and updated frequently. Our message needs to be clear, concise and consistent across the board, no one is going to take the time to figure out what we are trying to say.
 
Whew! The pressure to have a large presence online in addition to traditional advertising tactics can create a flurry of meaningless chatter and activity. It’s no wonder that our heads are spinning! Yes, it’s important to plunge in and take advantage of technology, but it’s equally important to use a multi media approach combining tried and true traditional media together with digital advertising to build a strong brand.
 
Branding is not enough, we have to build strong relationships. Our job as marketing professionals is to provide opportunity for a meaningful conversation and exchange of ideas. It’s about getting important information regarding new technology, skilled physicians and health preserving education out to our community in the fastest, most efficient, cost effective and interesting way possible. There has to be a value for our audience, it can’t be just about us selling services.
 
One of the most effective ways that we reach out to our community at North Broward Medical Center is through the use of community lectures such as Girl Talk or Strike Out Stroke. These offerings combine a health message with a themed pop of fun such as a sporting demonstration, food tasting or fashion show, etc. People welcome the chance to chat with a physician in a casual atmosphere and learn that they are not alone, others share the same health concerns. Another is by creating special events around health issues such as the very successful Mammo-Palooza, a week-long breast cancer awareness and mammogram screening drive held each October. Events like these open the door for people to interact with hospital staff and receive services in an upbeat, non-traditional way. It’s a great time for us to make a positive impression and give them a sense of the excellent care to expect in an emerging situation.
 
At the end of the day, it’s not the latest technology, the biggest advertising budget or the most social media savvy, it all comes down to one old fashioned thing-people. It is and always has been about people. We can’t lose sight of the fact that word of mouth is still the most effective way to advertise. Statistics show that 71% prefer a friend’s recommendation to advertising. Two thirds of the economy is influenced by word-of-mouth according to the findings of a study by Harvard University and McKinsey and Company. One word of mouth recommendation carries the equivalent of 600 advertising exposures! Those ‘walking billboards’ have more credibility than any advertising you can purchase. Now more than ever, with the onset of value based purchasing, it’s crucial for hospitals to align their guest relations program and provide venues to become friends with the community. After all, if you need medical care, are YOU going ask a friend for a recommendation? Yep.

Lyn Clark, Regional Manager Marketing & Community Relations, Broward Health North Broward Medical Center, can be reached at (954) 786-2323 or lclark@browardhealth.org.

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