How to develop an effective PR strategy in the healthcare industry
Developing effective strategies for anything have the same basic rules. Define what you want to achieve, set the roadmap and budget for doing so with bite-sized deliverables, be clear about who is doing what, and by when, set the plan in play, regularly review if the deliverables are on track and finally review the success of the strategy at the end of the exercise. A PR strategy is not different, although the rules need refining to the actual purpose. Aligning it to Health similarly requires a specific focus. Here are our tips to create an effective PR strategy in the healthcare industry.
Define your objectives first
Firstly, if we look at a PR strategy, defining the objective can be general or specific. A general objective would, for instance, be linked to website traffic, brand awareness, increased sales etc, whereas a specific objective might be based around a discreet product launch event or a promotional sale with a targeted number of sales required.
Planning is the next step, with related logistics, brand creative, external promotion through PR. Defined bite size deliverables, with specific allocated responsibilities, and a regular review process.
Then, as the delivery of the strategy unfolds, an honest assessment of achievements against the objectives.
If we extend that to Health, the important piece is getting the timing and the message right.
What do people want to see and talk about in the healthcare industry, and when?
The trap that many health businesses fall into is assuming that the target audience is as interested and obsessed with their product as they are. No one really cares about what’s in the slimming drink. What they care about is will it work. That's why testimonials are very important. That healthy cereal bar is fine only if an obesity guru endorses it, not just if the business says it is. Organic food is great if the independent medical report says I will live longer by eating it, not just if the business tries to convince me the taste is better.
So really adopting the buying demands of the target audience is key in defining the strategic approach and messaging.
The other critical success factor is timing. Few media outlets will pick up that healthy cereal bar story just to give the business brand profile. On the other hand, on the day of a Government report on obesity, journalists will be clamouring for case studies of what to put in the daily diet to get back to ‘sensible size’. No one would normally talk about the right nutrition for a cyclist, except for when the Tour de France is racing through Britain….then every journalist from local outlets to specialist trade magazines wants to know.
So perfect timing and getting the messaging right from the side of the target audience are the two major factors in defining effective PR strategies in the Health Sector. Capture these, and build them into the generic rules approach.
What's the PR action plan now?
Within the full PR planning process, a business needs to set out how it will convey its messages and to whom.
The word ‘effective’ should not just be limited to ‘Did the message get out?’, but more to ‘Did the message land, in a cost effective way?’. This helps in the review of whether a campaign has been successful, and means that a business will need to choose a partner or tool to distribute to the right audience, within the right budget parameters. Some businesses may engage a PR Agency, accepting that the cost is justified, whereas others may use a tool such as JournoLink if they are looking to minimise the spend.
The final part of delivering an effective PR campaign is reviewing the success. Too many businesses obsess over the ‘Return on Investment’, trying to value the number of media articles, and people turning up at an event.
The simple measure is whether at the end of the year sales have gone up. That’s the single outcome to define success in any ‘Healthy’ business.
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Written by: Peter Ibbetson, Company Director
As one of the co-founders of JournoLink PR, Peter is passionate about giving small businesses a voice in the press by providing them with the support and advice to do just that.