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?

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

 

SPRYTE Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

Milestone Inspires a Special Punch made with Sprite

In celebration of SPRYTE Communications’ 2nd Anniversary last Thursday, January 31st, I posted an article on LinkedIn, my first.

In the spirit of repurposing, my article is this week’s SPRYTE Insights Blog.  You might have also seen the recipe for our 2nd Anniversary Punch on SPRYTE’s social media channels.  In case you were wondering, it was as delicious as our 1st Anniversary Punch.

A professional colleague asked me if I was having a two-year-old tantrum?  Of course, I am!  I own a healthcare public relations agency in 2019.  There’s nothing calm about it.

But the best part of being so young is how optimistic we feel.  And, as you can imagine, specializing in healthcare providers in one of America’s healthcare headquarters is stacking up to be a very good place to be.  – Lisa Simon

Do you work for an organization that has struggled with the best way to celebrate a milestone anniversary? It’s not uncommon to not know how much to budget, whether it’s more important to celebrate internally or externally or both or, my favorite, whether to look backward or forward. I say this from experience. Anniversaries have been key times for organizations to engage a PR firm or for agencies to perform the anniversary heavy lifting within an existing client relationship. We’ve supported and delighted in many client anniversaries over the years including:

Bristol Riverside Theater 5th
Cherry Hill Mall 50th
Children’s Seashore House 125th
City of Philadelphia Fairmount Water Works       200th
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care 20th
Drexel University School of Public Health 10th
Griswold Home Care 35th
Har Zion Temple 75th
HomeCare Associates 10th & 20th
Hotel Atop The Bellevue 90th
Kenneseth Israel 150th
Mt. Airy USA 30th
Office Basics 25th
Pearl Pressman Printers 100th
Robins’ Nest 45th
Rohm and Haas Bristol Plant 75th
VNA-Community Services 75th
VNA of Greater Philadelphia 125th
Willow Grove Park Mall 10th & 100th
Wistar Institute 100th
YMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity 150th

 

Our depth in anniversary celebrations was gained before our reinvention as SPRYTE Communications on January 31st 2017. I’m humbled by how many of these anniversary celebrations were for healthcare providers. It must have been an omen!

Part of being the new us is appropriateness. So, like organizations every where, even with all this anniversary experience, I struggled with how to celebrate SPRYTE’s second anniversary today. It means so much to me personally, as you can imagine, but you might be thinking, who cares? That’s not uncommon for the non celebrants. I won’t divulge all of our anniversary celebration details but I am sharing our 2nd Anniversary Punch Recipe, which we’ll be enjoying at lunch in a few hours.

Please join me today in toasting SPRYTE Communications’ second anniversary.

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.

When Your Patients are Asian-American

Cultural Competency is Critical

Asian Americans come from more than 50 countries, speak more than 100 different languages, and belong to diverse ethnic groups, each with their own cultural values and healthcare needs.

The term Asian American encompasses a wide diversity of cultures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 5.6% of the U.S. population identifies as Asian or Asian American.

In their Blog Tips for Healthcare Communication with Asian-American Audiences MTM LinguaSoft, a language services company that specializes in helping healthcare providers communicate effectively with multilingual audiences wrote, “Many Asian Americans place a strong emphasis on family ties and interpersonal relationships. The family becomes a source of identity and guidance during times of crisis, and individuals are often expected to demonstrate self-control during difficult situations. Individualistic, disruptive behavior is discouraged.”

We appreciate MTM LinguaSoft’s Kristin Lynch guest blogging for SPRYTE Communications this week. Her Blog explains why healthcare providers should understand that Asian American families value group consensus when making important medical decisions and that respect is demonstrated differently in their cultures.

Cultural competency isn’t a new concept but it’s ever important as patients have more and more options and healthcare providers, who are judged by the “experiences” of their patients, compete in an increasingly diverse marketplace.

Read Kristin Lynch’s guest blog here.

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.

Healthcare Providers: Is 2019 the Year
You Hire a Public Relations Agency?

Watch Your Positive Reputation Blossom

Perhaps you are a healthcare provider who’s been thinking about hiring a public relations (PR) agency in the new year.

For first timers, it can be a big step filled with mystery and the perpetual fear of wasting precious budget dollars.

Even experienced leaders who have bottom line responsibility for hiring professional services firms know that without a deliberate strategy and articulated desired outcomes, measuring success can be tricky or worse, murky.

The PESO Media Model

By now most professional communicators have had some exposure to the PESO media model – Paid. Earned. Shared. Owned.
You may be wondering which part of PESO is public relations?

The answer is all four, the P, the E, the S and the O, however, traditionally PR firms have focused on delivering earned media (what used to be referred to as publicity) and SPRYTE Communications is no exception. But as time goes on and we evolve with our industry, we welcome the blurring of the lines.

Here are Tactics SPRYTE would like to continue delivering to clients in 2019:

Healthcare Tactical Wish List

  • Email Marketing Campaigns
  • Blogs
  • Web Sites
  • Social Media Content and Management
  • Blogs

This is in addition to our legacy business of designing and implementing:

Legacy Business

      • Earned Media Strategies

If you engage a PR agency in 2019, you might be adding the following to your team:

Add Talent to Your Team

  • Experienced Practitioners Who Can Extend and Mentor Your Internal Team
  • Specialists at Winning Earned Media
  • Excellent Writers
  • Seasoned Project Managers
  • Connectors to a Wide Network

Does it sound too good to be true?  We don’t think so!

SPRYTE has added value to its engagements with healthcare providers because of these very attributes.

We look for partnership with our clients and working collaboratively toward organizational goals. We take full responsibility for the ideas we recommend and their implementation through to results.

As 2019 begins this week SPRYTE is ready for new challenges. We appreciate the opportunities that have come our way and we look forward to continued growth.

Spryte Communications