Exploiting Awards to Boost Reputation
Awards programs can be powerful tools to generate positive press – and much goodwill – for the practitioners in your healthcare organization, and possibly the organization itself. Just about every local business or regional lifestyle publication has a “Top Docs” feature, or recognitions for “Top Hospitals” or “Best Places to Work.”
To capitalize, it helps to plan ahead. By creating a calendar of opportunities suitable for your organization, paying special attention to deadlines, you’ll be able to stay atop these programs and plan your nominations in advance. For institutional awards, you can mobilize your workforce to provide testimonials or vote.
When entering, it’s vital to follow the online nomination instructions fully, and pay particular attention to the narrative portion, usually the crux of your submission.
Heroes of Healthcare
SPRYTE recently spearheaded a regional health system’s nominations for NJBIZ magazine’s “Healthcare Heroes” award. Categories included Hospital of the Year, Educator of the Year, Public Health Hero and several others. We focused on the Physician, Nurse, and Volunteer of the Year categories.
We put out the call for prospective nominees, and the client came back with three excellent choices. After nailing down the particulars of each candidate, we set about writing the narratives which, again, would make or break our entries.
Here are some things to keep in mind, based on SPRYTE’s long experience and track record of awards success on behalf of our healthcare clients:
- Don’t hold back. Sometimes the essays must be brief, but we had up to 1,000 words to make our case. There will be much to say about any good nominee, so take full advantage of the space provided.
- Interview the candidate personally. If you rely on their CV, your submission will sound it and likely fail to garner attention. Find out what makes them tick, the “why” behind the “what.” Why did he or she choose that field, or job? Who (or what) influenced them? Get anecdotes illustrating their compassion, service and empathy. Tell a story.
- Provide the whole picture. Your candidate might be a great doc/nurse/teacher, but there are lots of those. What does yours do outside of patient work to benefit the community and humanity? In the end, you need to answer the question, “Why is this practitioner deserving of this award above all others?”
- Interview your nominee’s colleagues. At the very least, speak to the person who nominated them, or a direct supervisor. They had a reason for choosing that person. Find out why. Consider including a direct quote in the narrative.
- Don’t forget references. Sometimes awards forms require one or more. These can be the nominator, a supervisor, an executive of the organization, a professional colleague, or a patient. Let the references know you’re including them and prep them in case they are contacted.
- Don’t Compete Against Yourself: Keep nominations one per category.
- Enlist your patients and staff. Rally the troops, especially for organizational awards like Best Places to Work. Use internal communications, social media and e-blasts requesting testimonials, and include a link to comment or vote. Some of these awards are a numbers game, so leave no stone unturned.
- Have fun. Often, publications name finalists soon after the deadline, then announce winners at a paid banquet later. If possible, the nominee should attend to (hopefully) accept the award in person. Even as a finalist, it’s their night to shine! If colleagues can go, even better.
- Promote your win. A news release about an award bestowed by one publication won’t be picked up by a competing media outlet, but you can still publicize the victory in the winner’s hometown newspaper, college alumni publication, professional journals, and newsletters of organizations or chambers to which they belong. And, of course, post the happy news on the organization’s own social media channels and website.
With some planning, thought and effort, you can take advantage of awards programs to enhance the reputation of your client or organization while boosting morale of their employees. And who doesn’t like to add hardware to the trophy case?
As for Healthcare Heroes, our client’s physician nominee took home the big prize, but all our entries are heroes in their patients’ eyes.