How Are You Celebrating Volunteer Week?

At SPRYTE, We’re Blogging

It would be hard to find anyone in the nonprofit arena who doesn’t know this week is National Volunteer Week. Our country’s tradition of service to others is truly something to be proud of and it dates back to Colonial Times, according to VolunteerMatch’s article “Volunteering: History of An American Value”.

Back in the day, on behalf of corporate social responsibility and nonprofit clients, we used to publicize outstanding volunteers and their good deeds and contributions to charities and society in local weekly newspapers during National Volunteer Week.

Does anyone remember the Ambler Gazette’s “Citizen of the Week?” column? Even daily newspapers used to have more real estate for feel good stories about people doing extraordinary selfless deeds for others.

We know those happy days are over. As SPRYTE survives a commoditized marketplace with less real estate for earned media placements, we’re increasingly suggesting that we put our outstanding interviewing and writing skills to work by contributing high-level, high-energy digital content to our clients.

Starting with last year’s National Volunteer Week, we suggested that our client Episcopal Community Services (ECS) showcase a different volunteer (Rosalie RudegeairMary Kate FahyAmy Coburn, Avyanne Osbourne, Josh Bartek) for each business day of the week, five in total on their Blog.

The assignment was delightful on a number of levels:

It was an honor to represent ECS and its fine programs.

  • It was engaging to hear firsthand, on behalf of our client, why their volunteers do what they do and what they gain from it.
  • We had the opportunity to learn about our client and their professional team from a different voice.
  • We implemented a successful, valued tactic that wasn’t earned media.

As SPRYTE progresses with digital communications, we welcome the opportunity to flex our writing muscle on behalf of clients. And if we ever uncover a kernel of an idea that has high earned media potential in our quest to create content, you can rest assured we will escalate it and ask permission to reach out to the media to win coverage every time.

Your Blog Could Easily be an OpEd

Repurposing Strong Content Yields Additional Results

Doesn’t it seem like everyone has a Blog these days?  If not, we should because by now we know that content rules.  Content is also what drives thought leadership earned media strategies.

Many Blogs are well-written and present provocative, timely ideas.  These Blogs can be repurposed as OpEds and placed in print media including newspapers, online e publications and trade magazines.

SPRYTE client David Griffith, Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services, regularly blogs on his LinkedIn Blog Site Muddy Boots.

A blog Griffith posted in January was repurposed and placed in this week’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

It is the first OpEd in an ongoing series, “Poverty:  Finding Solutions in The Business Community.”  Griffith’s opinion article also introduces a highly-anticipated brand new Episcopal Community Services workforce development program, MindSet, “based on the most current brain science available that provides coaching and financial assistance to help individuals navigate the system and access opportunity that many of us take for granted.”

As the first cohort of MindSet reaches the mid-point of the first phase of the program, Griffith will continue to use his voice as a blogger and social services thought leader to encourage the business community to create the jobs that pull individuals out of poverty.  The readers of the Philadelphia Business Journal are an excellent audience for his platform.

The Right CMS Amplifies Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Picking One Takes Time

The New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCO) is one of the professional associations SPRYTE belongs to.  We love the Monthly healthcare communications webinars.

February’s webinar “Thinking Big: How Small Marketing Teams Can Maximize Their Digital Efforts,” focused on Content Management Systems (CMS.)

According to the presenters, new, less traditional content management systems allow healthcare providers to expand brand awareness as they send hyper-targeted messages in the most streamlined ways. A good CMS is a tool that will help you build long-lasting, real growth strategies.

Choosing the Best CMS for Your Healthcare Organization

There are a lot of CMS vendors out there, as you know.  It takes time to find the one that aligns with your goals.  Here are some key questions to consider.  Does the CMS have:

  • The ability to easily connect with different platforms?
  • A customizable content library?
  • Voice search?
  • A straightforward user interface?

The best CMS platforms enable healthcare marketing teams to reuse and repurpose content seamlessly.

Have You Heard About Headless CMS?

Headless CMS is newer software that manages information based on the premise that published content should be used for more than website tagging.  With Headless CMS, content is seamlessly shared with mobile apps.  For content authors who want to publish in different places on demand, it has proven to be very easy to use, according to the webinar presenters.

Content Libraries and Digital Signage

The CMS should also include a customizable content library that allows healthcare providers to keep all of their information managed in one place.  We know that physicians and medical conditions are highly searched categories.  This data should be refreshed frequently, with medical credentialing.

Other content assets like videos, taxonomy, ratings, and publications can be integrated into the library, and this relatable data is then linked up and shared.  This is all driven by title tags that automatically push users to pages.

Authentic Patient Stories Resonate Digitally

Website personalization is also a fast-growing trend in healthcare, with patient stories popping up more frequently on provider sites. We all know real patient testimonials resonate with readers and they do drive patients to contact providers.  The webinar presenters said emerging voice search can be especially effective here.

In any case, real time updates and selection tools also make it easier for patients to locate your healthcare providers and services.

Ease of Use Should Increase Over Time

Once a good CMS system is set up, it should be easy to use and manage. They usually take a few months to set up, so don’t be shocked.  But after the grueling initial investment, the possibilities are unlimited.

Why Local TV News Isn’t Dead

Securing Coverage on Local New Stations is Still an Important Part of Healthcare PR

By now, most of us have heard the popular doomsday prediction about how online news will cause the inevitable death of local broadcast news in the near future.

Despite these claims, a recent survey by Pew Research paints a very different – and positive – picture about the state of local TV news. According to the survey, 44 percent of Americans considered TV as their preferred platform to get their news in 2018, compared to 34 percent who preferred the internet.

In the world of healthcare PR, local broadcast has continuously proven to be one of the most valuable types of news coverage for our clients. If you’re still wondering just how worthwhile securing local TV news is for your organization, below are three reasons why we think it’s still just as important as ever:

Establishes emotional connections with patients.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and TV coverage is not an exception to this rule. When covering human interest stories, the visual aspect of TV news segments has the ability to convey emotions that people can relate to more than written articles can. This is especially impactful when it comes to telling patients’ stories.

One example of this is a segment we secured for client Holy Redeemer about a dog parade that was held for residents of its assisted living community, Holy Redeemer Saint Joseph Manor. By physically showing how happy the residents were while visiting with the dogs, viewers are able to see the emotional, caring side of healthcare – something they’ll remember when they’re looking for a provider in the future.

Humanizes physicians.

As we’ve mentioned in a few of our previous blogs, patients often prefer seeing doctors who they feel they can trust and build a connection with. Having physicians featured as expert resources in local TV news stories is a great way to help them build relationships with both current and potential patients beyond the doctor’s office. Not only does this type of coverage establish them as thought leaders in their respective practices, but it also helps patients put faces to their names, making them feel less like strangers.

 Reaches a broader demographic.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for all organizations, regardless of the industry, to rely on one platform to reach all of their target audiences. While maintaining an online presence is important for engaging with all different types of consumers, healthcare brands that focus solely on digital media will end up missing one important group of patients who aren’t as active online – seniors. Including local broadcast as part of your organization’s media strategy will ensure that your messaging will reach patients of all ages.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, many will argue that local TV news is on its way out. However, we think that local broadcast is still an invaluable media platform for healthcare organizations that is here to stay.

At SPRYTE Healthcare Communications Means Consumer PR

Hyper Local is So Credible and Rewarding

When you say healthcare communications agency in Philadelphia or New Jersey, the assumption is that you’re focused on pharmaceutical or life sciences companies.  We’ve met so many successful local niche consultants serving those industries at every stage of their business cycles.  And the increasingly visible publicly-traded global holding companies have also located their robust healthcare agency brands in Philadelphia in recent years to be closer to their clients.

Well, SPRYTE Communications specializes exclusively in healthcare too but we support healthcare providers.  Not in a business-to-business capacity.  Our strength is in consumer public relations.

Here’s an example of a campaign we conducted on behalf of Holy Redeemer Health System, a client since 2006, last week.

Holy Redeemer Opens 5th Outpatient Medical Center in Bucks County

When Holy Redeemer opened its fifth Bucks County outpatient medical center, consumer public relations was the only external communications function deployed.

The brand new 18,000 square foot ambulatory care center provides primary care, obstetrical and gynecological care, orthopedic care and rehabilitation services, professional counseling, physical therapy and radiology services.

The opening of Redeemer HealthCare at Richboro is of interest to individuals and businesses living in its vicinity for a variety of consumer and economic impact reasons.  That’s why there was wide pick up of our news release by local daily and weekly newspapers.

But the ambulatory care center’s opening was also of interest regionally where the highly competitive healthcare provider industry is widely covered.  John George, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s healthcare writer, conducted interviews with Holy Redeemer’s senior leaders and wrote the most comprehensive article about the System’s continued expansion in to new geographies in Bucks County.

Finally, Holy Redeemer’s expansion was also of interest to the trade media, with Becker’s covering it with three highly flattering “Insights.”

Many healthcare providers think that paid advertising is the only way to build their visibility in a local marketplace.  Of course, it certainly won’t hurt.  But think of the brand battles out there on billboards, radio and TV.  In Philadelphia, it seems the biggest advertisers are our many outstanding healthcare providers.

But don’t overlook the power of public relations and the credibility delivered by news media covering your healthcare provider brand in action.  Do you agree that the consumer earned media coverage of Holy Redeemer’s Richboro expansion is solid proof of its newsworthiness?

Remembering the “Social” Aspect of Social Media

How to Use Social Media to Build Meaningful Relationships with Patients

Social media has evolved into one of the most important ways businesses across all industries can connect with consumers, and the healthcare industry is no exception. In fact, one recent study showed that 57 percent of people choose their healthcare providers based on their social media presence – proving how integral social media is to the overall patient experience.

While most providers know how vital social media is to their success, many find themselves still struggling to truly engage with their followers. In an effort to prove their level of prestige and experience, they often focus too much of their content on clinical topics and forget about the human, “caring” side of healthcare.

So, how can healthcare organizations build meaningful relationships with their followers by bringing back the social part of social media? Below are a few tips to help healthcare providers tap into their emotional side and establish lasting connections with their patients.

 Showcase employees.

When selecting a doctor, patients tend to choose a physician who they feel they can trust and build a connection with. While most doctors don’t have time to get to know their patients during appointments, social media has created another way for them to become more of a familiar face outside of the office.

One example of this is client Holy Redeemer Health System’s recurring “Practitioner Spotlight” social media series. Back in July, we published a blog post about how we use this series to highlight a different physician each week by sharing a photo of the doctor and summary of his or her practice, experience and hobbies. This series still garners the most engagement from followers compared to the rest of Holy Redeemer’s posts, as it allows them get to know their doctors beyond what’s listed on the website.

Share patient-centered content.

Posting relatable content is one of the best ways a healthcare brand can engage with consumers – and there’s nothing more relatable than posts involving other patients. When a provider posts about its patients, it helps followers “see themselves” in the content and feel as if the organization understands who they are as a person.

Along with the Practitioner Spotlight series, content that showcases patients receives high levels of engagement on Holy Redeemer’s social media pages. From photos of an “Eagles pep rally” held in its maternity ward before last year’s Super Bowl to an article about a puppy parade visiting residents at one of its senior living facilities, sharing positive patient stories allows them to consistently resonate with followers in an emotional way.

Use a professional and empathetic voice.

In addition to learning more about a provider, people often reach out on social media because they are worried about something related to their health. While it’s important for providers to show that they’re knowledgeable, it’s just as crucial to be empathetic when talking to their followers, as well. Patients look to practitioners as trusted resources when they aren’t feeling well, so using a professional and comforting voice will help them feel less hesitant about seeking care when they’re experiencing health issues.

Be as responsive as possible.

One of the most important, yet forgotten aspects of a brand’s social media pages is that they act as a way for consumers to have direct communication with the organization. If a business doesn’t respond to its messages or comments – especially negative ones – it can create the impression that it doesn’t truly care about its followers.

Whenever possible, aim to respond to any negative comments or messages within an hour of when it’s posted. Even if you don’t have the necessary information right away and have to give a “non-answer,” responding promptly will help patients believe that their concerns are heard and being taken seriously.

When used correctly, social media is one of the best ways for healthcare providers to connect and build relationships with their current and prospective patients outside of the doctor’s office.

Writing is the Common Denominator for Healthcare PR and Content

Don’t Forget You Blog to Generate Business!

When SPRYTE Communications was launched early last year, we also launched our Blog, SPRYTE Insights and we’ve been very disciplined about posting new content every Tuesday morning ever since.

The depth of our content bank is impressive.  SPRYTE Insights’ “editorial approach” is to delight healthcare communicators with practical information they can use in their everyday professional lives in the healthcare provider space.

Of course, those same healthcare communicators and their managers, investors and owners are also our prospects for business development.

We have to remind ourselves that a more focused sales and marketing platform was one reason we relaunched a general agency, Simon PR in to SPRYTE Communications, a healthcare specialist.

But the PR DNA that makes us outstanding at healthcare earned media and influencer engagement isn’t always our friend as we advance as content marketers.

And anything we dedicate time to for ourselves has to be a best example of our work as we try to win more healthcare digital and social business.

Here are some of the SPRYTE Insights’ shortcomings we’ve noticed as we plan to evolve and decide what to put on our Agency to do list moving forward.  Perhaps  other healthcare communications bloggers out there are also experiencing similar sentiments.

The Granular Shortcomings of Our Weekly Blogs

Visual Imagery: We will prep an incredibly compelling written piece and then illustrate it with poor imagery, totally undervaluing the need and opportunity for strong art.  As writers we’re enamored with words but to be successful in content we need strong words and visuals.

Headlines and Subheads can be so pedestrian.  Our blogs are often truly original and pithy to boot but then we’ll put pedestrian headlines on them that do nothing to invite readership or build our brand.  We can do better!

Embracing SPRYTE’s Brand Voice: The SPRYTE Insights blog is an owned media property of SPRYTE Communications.  As a relaunched agency, we have a highly articulated brand voice, well defined service lines and five known target healthcare industries: hospice, home care, hospitals & health systems, medical practices and social service agencies.  Our content needs to build our brand as it’s defined not as a make it up as we blog or as an individual soapbox for issues near and dear to the author.

Paying for It: The PR DNA typically doesn’t include a gene for paying for exposure.  We are so attuned to earning media that it’s extremely difficult for us to pay for it.  We aren’t natural boosters and we don’t really know how much to spend on boosting.  But just posting and not boosting SPRYTE Insights’ Blogs on SPRYTE’s LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter channels is a very big missed opportunity to reach more healthcare eyeballs, the ones that might hire us!

So now that we’ve identified where we need improvement, how will we advance as content marketers supporting the SPRYTE brand and what will we be doing differently or additionally?

How SPRYTE Insights will Evolve:

  • Archived SPRYTE Insights Blogs Will be Better Illustrated with Improved Imagery and Reposted.
  • A Healthcare Guest Blogger Program Will Debut. (Note:  We are accepting blogs written by proven healthcare communicators for consideration.)
  • Blog Archiving Under Our Five Target Healthcare Industries: Hospice, Home Care, Hospitals & Health Systems, Medical Practices and Social Service Agencies Will Be Added to the SPRYTE Insights Page on the SPRYTE Communications Web Site.
  • A SPRYTE Communications Branded Annual Blog Editorial Calendar Will be Designed and Deployed.
  • A Meaningful Plan and Budget for Social Media Boosting Will Be Established.

As defined by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” While complimentary visual and creative skills are required, like public relations, content marketing is rooted in good writing.  SPRYTE is ready to up our game as we grow with our SPRYTE Insights Blog.

 

Shine a Light on Your Docs

Social Media Can Help Humanize Your Front Line Physicians

According to the National Institutes of Health, patients only get to spend a median of 15.7 minutes in consultation with their doctor during an appointment. It’s hardly enough time to forge a relationship, or even get to know the doctor outside a purely clinical context.

But, hey, doctors are people too, and health organizations that spend a little time portraying them as such can create fans, inspire loyalty, generate valuable feedback and remove much of the intimidation in the doctor-patient relationship. And social media marketing is an easy way to do that.

Posts highlighting your physicians, and even nurses, nurse practitioners and other frontline clinical staff will put a face with a name, remove some of the mystery, and essentially humanize them among your followers. And they can give a morale boost to those you feature, particularly professionals who aren’t used to being in the spotlight.

George Clooney in a Lab Coat

Just ask Dr. Lorenz Iannarone, a surgeon whom SPRYTE highlighted for client Holy Redeemer Health System on Facebook in May…and who garnered 176 likes and 56 glowing comments from past and current patients. A largely unassuming man, Dr. Iannarone was praised for being compassionate, gentle and a good colleague, and one fan even called him “the George Clooney of medicine.”

Such testimonials don’t simply make a doctor feel good; recommendations from others (in person or online) are a key driver of medical decision making, so organic, heart-felt reviews can be powerful from a brand management point of view. They help deliver the implied message that your clinicians are kind, caring and patient-focused – whether or not they’re the second coming of Dr. Doug Ross.

It pays to schedule in recurring practitioner posts in your social media calendar. Holy Redeemer simply calls theirs “Practioner Spotlights” and they are posted weekly. Other organizations might call them “Featured Doctor,” “Featured Provider,” “Doctor Spotlight,” or something else. What you name it isn’t as important as the fact you’re doing it.

Inform, but Make it Personal

Practioner Spotlight, which appears Wednesdays, includes a summary of the doctor’s specialty, a sentence about where they earned their medical degree(s) or served their residency, and a sentence about their particular area of passion, if they have one. These posts often include a sentence on what the practitioner likes doing off the clock – a large ingredient toward humanizing them.

Of course, a good photo is mandatory. This should be a professional head shot or a good quality staged photo in a clinical setting. Be selective. A poor quality image or a shot of the doctor with a scowl or neutral expression won’t cut it. Make sure they’re flashing their pearly whites.

Here are some more tips for making your physicians part of your social content marketing program:

  • Brand your posts. You can frame your featured practitioner in your organization’s colors or other brand elements. Reserve this framing exclusively for your recurring spotlights. If the clinician is wearing a labcoat, make sure the logo is visible.
  • Highlight new docs. Welcome them publicly by putting them front and center in your social media, to introduce them to followers and patients.
  • Give shout outs when appropriate. Put the spotlight on a practitioner who has been recognized with an award or accreditation. You can use this tactic for personal accomplishments too, such as completing a marathon or being recognized for their off-hours charitable activities.
  • Make it easy for followers. Include the practioner’s office number or website and the name of their practice, if applicable, to facilitate appointments.
  • Be consistent. Whether you highlight someone weekly or bi-weekly, be sure to stick with it so it can build momentum, and followers expect to see it regularly. If you pick a day of the week, keep posting on that day.

Your doctors and other practitioners are the faces of your practice or system. Social media is a great way to part the curtain to let patients and other fans know who they are beyond the name on your website.