While we’ve all seen missteps by brands and companies trying to market their non-essential products and stay relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and healthcare organizations don’t need to do this dance. Whether they’re treating COVID-19 patients or not, there’s no greater time for healthcare systems, both large and small, to be talking to the public about what they do best: providing life-saving and life-changing care to patients and disseminating medically-accurate information to keep people and communities healthy.
At Cerrell, we believe in the “rule of three,” based on the principle that things that come in threes are inherently more satisfying or more effective than any other number (hence, our aptly named newsletter, “3 Things from Cerrell”). But we’re going to divert from this rule as we’re feeling rather passionate about two practical PR tips that hospitals and healthcare organizations can employ right now to elevate their profile and protect their reputation:
Ideally before COVID-19 exploded into a full-blown crisis, you’ve already identified and trained one or more spokespeople to represent your organization in the media. The public wants to hear from medical experts, so if your spokesperson is an administrator, they should also be a licensed medical doctor. Not only should your spokesperson be an expert in their field, but be empathetic and able to articulate your organization’s values.
The message that needs to be conveyed right now isn’t about budgets or your recently formulated strategic plan. It’s about serving patients and their families, the dedication of your frontline medical staff, and the steps you’re taking to care for them both.
It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. But in a time of crisis, it’s often the very first place people turn to get the latest information. At the beginning of this public health nightmare, hospitals were scrambling, and understandably so, faced with a dizzying amount of internal operational tasks to handle a rush of COVID-19 patients.
Social media should not be an after-thought, but one of the first places you disseminate information. Use your social channels often, monitor and respond to comments, and push out essential information in a consistent and timely manner.
If you need assistance employing either of these tips, Cerrell can help. We can facilitate a virtual media training to prep (or refresh!) your spokespeople, develop a social media protocol that your staff can easily use, and serve as an extension of your team during these unprecedented times. Call us at (323) 466-3445 or email [email protected].