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.

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.

There’s Still Time to Make Changes for 2019

Take Stock. Break Bad Habits & Do Better

In 8 Bad Habits to Avoid in Healthcare Marketing this week’s guest blogger, Rob Rosenberg of Springboard Brand and Creative Strategy, warns “Avoid defaulting to old habits that weaken your position, both personally and professionally.”

Do you agree that the poor practices Rob advocates you change are often present in today’s health system marcom operations?

They reminded me of my first position in provider healthcare. My title was Public Affairs Staff Associate and I worked in the market’s dominant three hospital health system. I was one of three in the department. We had all the health system service lines divided among us. Thinking back, I don’t think I was ever present at a business discussion. But I did perfect my newsletter skills. –Lisa Simon

Click here to read the Guest Blog

 

Partnering Makes Healthcare PR Less Lonely

Collaborate to Share Work and Celebrate Success

Public relations can be a lonely function, especially when we bear the weight of delivering earned media for healthcare provider clients in major markets.  It requires high doses of adrenalin and drive, assuming your material is newsworthy on its own merit.

Recently at SPRYTE we’ve been enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaborate with other healthcare communicators because the physicians we support are themselves collaborating with innovative partners.

Our portfolio includes work for both independent doctors in private practice and non-profit hospitalists.

Relievus and NeuroFlow Advancing Management of Pain Patients

Dr. Young Lee, founding partner of Relievus, a multi-location pain management specialty medical practice, collaborated with local Philadelphia start up NeuroFlow to test a mobile software platform that patients check in with daily.  NeuroFlow gives providers daily insight into patients’ mental health – a key indicator for care plan adherence.

In mHealthIntelligence,  a mental health and telehealth online publication targeted to healthcare practitioners, Dr Lee said, “We used to document (a patient’s mental status), but we didn’t do anything about it. Now we’re paying attention to mental health and we’re realizing that pain is not just a physical issue. This is a physical and mental issue.”

Our clients at Relievus asked SPRYTE to work with NeuroFlow to help their experienced public relations consultant deliver earned media about their platform.  NeuroFlow needed real life examples of doctors using NeuroFlow in the field and Dr. Lee was an early adopter and an enthusiastic partner to NeuroFlow.

As can be imagined, our biggest challenge was finding time in Dr. Lee’s schedule for media interviews.  The opportunities had already been sourced by NeuroFlow and they were good ones.  We just had to step in and deliver the doctor.  So, in addition to the placement in mHealthIntelligence, Dr. Lee and Relievus’ use of NeuroFlow were also featured in the Camden Courier Post the daily newspaper serving the practice’s flagship headquarters location in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Of course, doctors in private practice aren’t the only ones pursuing collaborations that positively impact patient care.

AirXpander®  Revolutionizes Patients’ Preparation for Reconstructive Breast Surgery.

Our longtime clients at Holy Redeemer Heath System asked us to support Chief of Surgery Dr. William Scarlett and his use of an innovative approach to preparing a patient for reconstructive breast surgery, the use of a new medical device, AirXpander®


In this case, SPRYTE’s collaboration was directly with the manufacturer, AeroFlow  The marketing team was delighted by the potential for consumer earned media and available and helpful every step of the way.

First, they confirmed Dr. Scarlett was the first and only physician using AirXpander® in the greater Philadelphia market.  And we needed that confirmation to make the claim.

We were also supplied with great imagery and solid explanations of the product to expand what Dr. Scarlett shared with us.

But what Holy Redeemer delivered was key to the success of our consumer media outreach, a wonderful and satisfied patient spokesperson who was thrilled with Dr. Scarlett and her AirXpander experience.

Patient Miriam Dougherty’s willingness to be interviewed on camera with Dr. Scarlett was critical to SPRYTE’s delivery of a television feature segment on Philadelphia’s number one rated local network 6ABC 

So, in these two SPRYTE examples, public relations wasn’t so lonely.  In the case of Relievus, we saw another communications pro work his magic but he needed Dr. Lee to deliver a solid story to both consumer and trade media.  SPRYTE’s advocacy for Relievus and our expert coordination and facilitation skills led to two excellent earned media placements for both businesses.

With Holy Redeemer we secured the earned media opportunities and worked with the physician and patient spokespeople with the enthusiastic support of the device manufacturer.  

Most collaborators will tell you that communication among partners is critical to success and we agree.  Clearing up any blurred breakdowns of responsibility is job number one.  When they work, collaborations are truly a beautiful thing.  Pursuing client goals with other healthcare communicators and delivering results together is energizing and those earned media placements are a great way to stoke doctors’ continued interest in earned media, highlighting their successful approaches to patient care in the most credible way while building the brands of their healthcare provider organizations.

The Media Advisory is a Critical Tool

Healthcare Providers in Pursuit of TV Coverage Need to Nail Them

What we refer to as a Media Advisory at SPRYTE Communications is also sometimes called a Media Alert or a Calendar Alert. Whatever you call it, the Media Advisory is a critical media relations tool for encouraging television news coverage of a single event or function.

For many healthcare communicators, in large and small media markets alike, winning television coverage can be elusive.

You have to think like a producer and succinctly present the opportunity for the cameras to shoot very strong visuals, the kind you see every night on TV news. The following factors are also important and can make or break a TV opportunity:

  • Day of the Week: SPRYTE likes a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Thursday.
  • Time of Day: We like mid late morning.
  • Proximity to News Station: If it’s more than a 30-minute drive, that adds challenge.

Here are some of the shortcomings of Media Advisories I’ve seen written at SPRYTE over the years:

  •  Visuals aren’t mentioned.
  •  Headlines lack creativity.
  •  Dispassionate.
  •  A specific time for the main “moment” isn’t given.
  •  Longer than one page.
  •  Written like a News Release.
  •  Lacking parking and entrance instructions.

We do a lot of Media Advisory training actually, more than I would have expected for both seasoned and more junior pros with media relations responsibilities. The reasons these folks need training?

  • Don’t ever watch television news.
  • Don’t sell it.
  • Value print over broadcast coverage.

When You Hear the Anchor Use Your Words

When the TV Anchor uses your words to accompany the video their cameraperson shot at your event from the anchor desk, you know you wrote good ones.

That was the case in December when SPRYTE reached out to televisions news assignment desks in pursuit of their coverage of an intimate and humble graduation ceremony for a large faith-based social service agency it represents in Southeast Pennsylvania.

Two adults completing Episcopal Community ServicesRISE Initiative were celebrated at a non-traditional recognition ceremony.
SPRYTE’s Media Advisory  enticed Philadelphia’s number one rated local television news station, 6 ABC, to send a cameraman to cover the program.

The resulting television news segment included favorite local anchorwoman 6 ABC’s Monica Malpass including words from SPRYTE’s Media Advisory headline.

Part of our earned media strategy for Episcopal Community Services includes attempting to win coverage of key milestones in their program year including RISE Initiative completion recognition programs for the following reasons:

Reasons to Pursue TV News Coverage

  • Shows (rather than tells) their great organization in action.
  •  Simplifies a multi-faceted mission by focusing on one great, visual moment.
  • Covers a wide geography.
  • Affirms donors’ good decision to support you.
  • Boosts morale of program participants and staff alike.
  • Builds the organization’s brand in the community in a visible way.

Remember sometimes the cameras don’t show up to even the most inspiring, visually-charged and meaningful events. We all know that can happen. But if we think there is potential for a great TV story that will be enjoyed by viewers throughout our media market, we will try at all costs to get the coverage again next time too.