No matter the size of your community, a public relations initiative is necessary to build an informed community. News in your town may spread fast, but you cannot count on quality information to spread unless you take action.
Public relations is just one of the ways hospitals communicate with the community. This communication is not just a one-way track; there should be both speaking and listening.
Why is it important to differentiate the two? Because you’re looking at building relationships, long-term relationships that aren’t possible through one-way communication.
Getting your community involved is vital to send the message that you care and aren’t just throwing out information for brand awareness. Using quality information on all healthcare issues will show that you really are part of the community.
There are four areas that I believe are vital when developing your public relations strategy: hospital information, public health information, educational programs, and the integration with other marketing strategies.
Source for Hospital Information
Publicizing announcements through press releases, public service announcements, or social media on hospital staff information or new facility changes you’re able to communicate and get feedback from the community. This communication is important for both brand awareness and the credibility of your hospital.
Source of Public Health Issues
You are centered as being the major source for your community’s health information and needs. With this in mind, you can focus on community wide needs such as cancer awareness and immunizations. Bringing up these topics on nationally recognized days is a great way to announce these health topics.
Getting your hospital in the public eye by hosting events, such as free health screenings, means you’ll be one step closer to a healthier and informed community. Additionally, your hospital staff will interact and be seen by the locals, giving a brighter face to your hospital.
Being able to get the community involved with your hospital, without being admitted, is one of the most significant public relation strategies I know. Through auxiliary programs or educational courses, you’re not only able provide health information to your community, but get them directly involved in the process. The free PR is great, but be sure they’re getting the message that you want spread.
Integrating with Other Marketing Strategies
Finally, you must coordinate your public relations program with your other marketing strategies. It is important to bring a holistic approach to all your strategies of communication.
Without integrating your strategies, stakeholders can become confused or your strategies will simply not work. For example, what good is it if you have a great advertisement in the newspaper while the newspaper has written an article on how people are unhappy with their service there? Coordinating properly would not let this happen, saving time and money.
For nearly 23 years now, I’ve focused on the marketing and communications of rural and small community hospitals. Through a comprehensive marketing communications program, quickening growth of local support and building lasting relationships is just one of the benefits your facility stands to gain through public relations.