What is Healthcare PR?
Healthcare Public Relations focuses on companies in the healthcare field, from medical innovations to patient care and veterinarian companies. It is one of the fastest growing sectors of Public Relations, as medical fields continue to grow across industries. One of the major challenges and tasks in Healthcare PR is taking complex information and making it understandable and interesting to the average person, while maintaining legitimacy in the field.
Like other types of PR in other verticals, the practice of public relations in this field is designed to not only educate, spread awareness, and share key happenings, crisis management also plays a role should there be a need. In fact, it may play a larger role given the sensitivity of the information being passed around and the nature of what many healthcare companies do.
Across biotech, medical technology, healthcare providers, pharmaceuticals, and other sectors of the industry, PR professionals have an especially heavy hand in promoting products that help us navigate medical dilemmas and improve overall quality of life for people around the world.
How Healthcare PR works
Just like any other industry specific Public Relations, the goal is to explain to the consumer what a company is doing and why it matters. Educating the average consumer about Healthcare PR can be complex. Avoid using medical jargon and technical phrases that will confuse your audience. As is always, it is important to communicate messaging a positive light.
It builds trust
Building trust is key in Healthcare PR. Keep information simple, localize it and personalize it to different consumers. Utilize positive media coverage to position company leaders and their product in an influential and positive light. Healthcare is a sensitive and personal topic that is extremely important to everyday people. Gaining their trust is crucial.
It builds awareness
Trade publications can be a powerful tool in Healthcare PR. This is an outlet where more dense information can be shared without running the risk of confusing or boring a consumer. Building awareness within industry publications is important. But in Healthcare PR, social media is also a critical tool. Every person needs some sort of healthcare in their life, and making it accessible on social media is a key way to reach consumers who won't come to you.
It helps people visualize
One of the best tools at the disposal of healthcare PR experts comes in the form of infographics and other visuals. Because the information can be heavy and relatively hard to digest, graphics help relay difficult topics, while video on social, web, and television can show consumers exactly how certain products or methodologies are meant to be used.
It fosters community
When everyone is informed, there is more space to talk about the products, services, and goods in the healthcare space that can really help people. Healthcare PR pushes this process along and even spreads awareness for things like clinical trials and research opportunities.
It puts information in front of people
Where PR used to cover major news publications, then switched over to their corresponding web outlets, now spans other channels like social media and modern media channels like Buzzfeed or YouTube. This approach is strategic for relaying information to the masses, particularly people that could potentially become a patient, a user, or an advocate.
Healthcare PR Best Practices
Be simple and clear
Information in the healthcare industry tends to be dense and hard to understand. You will lose consumers or confuse them if you don't translate the information into simple language. Healthcare already seems inaccessible to many Americans. Understanding insurance policies, complex procedures, even finding a doctor -- all can be overwhelming. You will build trust and appreciation from consumers by making any portion of it easier to understand.
There is already a feeling of ill-will in many parts of medical care. From pharmacy prices to hidden fees at the doctor's office -- consumers don't need to feel like they are involved in another confusing and potentially nefarious process. Use transparency when creating your PR content. Explain what is happening behind the scenes when you can, and let consumers know how things work at the company you're working for. This goes back to building trust.
Do your research
This applies to both the industry and your target markets. First of all, be sure to keep up with the trends and new technology in the healthcare industry. Staying up-to-date and knowledgeable keeps you relevant to your client and keeps them relevant to their consumers. Also, be sure to do research on the target markets for each of your campaigns and your company's products and services. Healthcare is an important part of life for most people; you need to know if you are marketing to families, aging clients or Millennials. The strategies for each should be very different.
Try something new
The healthcare industry is ever-changing, as are the channels we promote to and the nature of content online. If you typically pitch out articles or blog posts, try an infographic. Create a short-form video for YouTube rather than a step-by-step written instruction guide. When you test new forms of content and placements for that content, you consistently upgrade your strategy.
Keep HIPAA and FDA laws in mind
Medical boards and groups have laws in place, particularly online, to keep providers and patients alike safe. It is important to recognize what these best practices are so you don't find yourself in hot water. This line can get crossed when medical information isn't backed by studies or trials or when patients' information becomes compromised.
The customer comes first
A major facet of PR involves training your staff — particularly those who work on the communications side of things — to a certain level of customer service. When you treat your customers like they are the first priority and tailor your PR efforts to their needs, it opens the door for a more personalized customer service that fosters relationships and builds trust. This means replying to social media comments, answering emails, and taking other actions to build a strong reputation.