PR and Health Care: Top Lessons Learned at the PRSA Health Academy Summit
At a time of momentous change within the health care field, the recent PRSA Health Academy Conference brought together practitioners from the health care companies and providers, organizations allied to the field and public relations agencies serving health care clients.
Professional communicators generally have two primary interests in public relations research and evaluation: to improve performance and to communicate value. Health care communicators are the same even though the highly regulated environment in which they operate differs considerably from others. As research-based consultants, our mission at PRIME is to help clients understand their business landscape and to position them to make more intelligent communication and business decisions. By informing better choices, clients improve performance organically; proving value naturally follows as senior executives see how PR programs deliver more with less and for less.
In addition to a renewed focus on research and measurement, there was much discussion, debate and perspectives offered about audits, social media and the lost art of pitching journalists. Here are a few sound bites:
- Executive audits are vital (whereby you survey top executives within your organization to clearly understand their vision for the communications team and how that vision relates to your goals and the goals of the organization as a whole). When you go to pitch your plan to the c-suite, there is nothing to pitch – they’ve already agreed.
- Improve your ability to use video. Among all content in the online/social space, videos attract the most attention.
- Perfectionism is overrated. It inhibits growth and innovation. Failing leads to succeeding more quickly.
- Conduct third-party, qualitative media analysis when evaluating your latest campaign. Just because you received 1.2 billion media impressions doesn’t mean that the key messages reached the audience, or the articles were prominently placed. Evaluate whether the brand was mentioned prominently within the piece; the tone of the story and whether your intended quotes made it into the copy. Also, look closely at where your competitors are mentioned.
- Use research to build the business case and strategy to convince executives within your organization of the need to spend ample budget on quality integrated marketing campaigns and qualitative evaluation. Show them what’s working in THEIR space (competitors, other divisions, etc.) and speak their language.
- Five Tips for Doing Social Media On a Budget:
- Get online and do some serious listening (what used to take 2 months now takes 2 days).
- Set goals.
- Work with what you’ve got. Use existing relationships, content, video, etc.
- Make a schedule. Plot content a year at a time (twitter views, video interviews, etc.)
- Forge connections. Find your allies and become best friends. Collaborate with online leaders.
- Track your progress. Evaluate your program to show its value. Report. This is the most critical step to getting more funds.
- Do a communications audit once every two years. Review every bit of organizational communication (from business cards to websites) and analyze what’s worked and what has not worked in the past. What are your key messages? Are they clear? Interview executives (as previously suggested). Interview internal stakeholders. Survey the community. Talk to customers. Step outside of yourself (if you can afford third-party objectivity, by all means do it). Once done, plan.
- Do your research when targeting journalists to talk about healthcare and pharmaceuticals, keep it simple. Is this really the right story for their outlet? When you do reach out, use accessible English. Not every journalist is a nuclear physicist/design engineer/horticulturalist/botanist/brain surgeon.
- Don’t lose the art of the journalist pitch. Perfect your ability to present a story idea well and in a form relevant to the intended media outlet.