Enlist Local Docs to Help
When you’re working with a healthcare client that’s national in scope, or has a broad network of ambulatory care facilities or franchise offices, it’s important to get “boots on the ground” in the communities in which they operate. Often, the best way to do this is with a “grassroots” campaign – one that delivers your messages to prospective patients or clients at the local-facility level.
It’s wonderful to get a feature story in a major newspaper in the organization’s home territory, or an interview with the CEO in a prominent healthcare trade publication. But it takes a small-town touch to actually drive people to seek care or a consultation at your client’s facility, or attend a community health event that the local office is hosting or sponsoring.
This takes legwork. It can be daunting learning the demographics and characteristics of healthcare consumers in many disparate places, let alone the local media landscape. In addition, smaller regional media are far more likely to use news or materials generated by a local business, quoting a local doctor, than a national or distant company with an out-of-market spokesperson. For these reasons, it’s helpful to enlist the real boots on the ground…the managers of the facilities or franchises themselves.
Use Your Collective
Like Star Trek’s Borg, think of the health organization and its far-flung facilities as a collective, individual entities offering the same services and sharing similar goals. What’s good for one benefits all. They don’t have to “assimilate” patients to thrive, but even a positive media placement for one local franchise can benefit others in the area through increased name recognition.
Empower the facilities to assist with their own publicity, and give them the information and tools to do so. This might mean suggesting events or initiatives that have worked in other areas, with tips on how to customize them for their own. It may include creating an online resource center where physicians or managers can retrieve company information and template (or “swiss cheese”) materials they can adapt for their own media outreach. And it might mean providing them with media contact information.
Templates, with explicit instructions on how to customize them, could include:
- News releases
- Media advisories
- Opinion columns
- Blog entries
- Letters to the editor
Typically, they’d just fill in details like the physician’s or spokesperson’s name, the locality, office address/phone number, and contact information if the media has any questions. Of course, there might be other pertinent fields to be customized depending on the content of the item.
SPRYTE has been using templates successfully for our clients for many years. Most recently, we’ve been helping Griswold Home Care enlist its 200-plus franchises to support the company’s messages surrounding its 35th anniversary year. We created several materials that were passed along to franchise owners in an internal marketing webinar, but the letter to the editor has been the one to take off.
The letter noted the founding of the company in 1982 by Jean Griswold and its mission to provide empathetic care to keep seniors and the disabled and infirmed in their homes. It also brought home the idea that although their franchise hasn’t been around quite as long, it proudly fulfills the founder’s vision every day, and saluted the caregivers – both paid professionals and unpaid family members – who provide comfort and aid.
While the official anniversary was in April, the letter was written as an evergreen that can be used for the rest of the year, and has appeared in newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania. Florida and Kentucky. The response has been so encouraging, Griswold has begun individually reaching out to franchise owners with the offer to customize and distribute it on their behalf, an option to consider if you have the staff to do it.
There are, of course, many ways to conduct grassroots publicity for your organization. When many locations are concerned, this is one that’s proven effective time and again. It gives the media what they most want – locally generated content – and it’s easy to facilitate. And it has the added benefit of reinforcing for your “collective” that the mothership is looking out for them.