How PR Agencies Play Critical Roles for Healthcare Clients

Elizabeth Snell, Mar 19 2019

categories: Content Marketing

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We’ve previously discussed on this blog what “public relations” actually means, and how PR professionals must know how to do everything from resolving crises to finding the best way to promote their clients. When it comes to healthcare clients specifically, PR agencies play a critical role and often need to wear many hats to ensure that those companies effectively establish themselves as industry leaders.

But what exactly does a PR agency do for healthcare?

Is it just about pitching stories to media, sending out tweets, and writing press releases? Of course not – we help cultivate brands, establish trust between our clients and their audience, and so much more.

Be a brand narrator, focus on thought leadership

 Every PR agency must focus on developing a strong brand for their client, including creating the right thought leadership approach. In healthcare especially, it’s critical to build trust, show expertise, and reinforce authenticity for a complete thought leadership PR and comms plan.

Determine what the brand stands for, working with the client to figure out the POVs that they should have.

When developing the brand story, it’s not all about self-promotion. Good PR agencies keep the focus on their healthcare executive being a genuine resource who provides actionable content. For example, if your client does cloud security, a byline discussing the overall importance of healthcare data privacy and security can be beneficial. The piece should offer an actionable approach to keeping data secure, and how their product or service fits into the larger issue at hand.

Keep a pulse on industry trends

Understanding your client’s industry inside and out is critical for any PR agency. You must know where your client fits in and how they are looking to make a positive impact.

Healthcare is an ever-evolving industry, with regulatory updates and technological changes that can greatly affect providers, payers, and patients. When you know the current trends and hot-button issues facing the industry, you are better equipped to look for angles and opportunities to position your client against those trends to promote their thought leadership.

Do you have a client that focuses on patient engagement or interoperability? Then perhaps having them craft a byline discussing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) proposed rule on secure health data access, exchange, and use would be applicable.

Additionally, take note of healthcare events and awards, and know what’s right for your client and what might not be the best fit. HIMSS is a huge healthcare IT event that draws in media, vendors, providers, and other key healthcare players. The conference can provide great opportunities for numerous healthcare companies, but still might not be ideal for everyone. For example, companies that focus more on personal fitness might not find as many applicable sessions. Or, organizations that are still in early financial funding rounds might opt to wait one more year before attending.

Facilitate and foster industry relationships

 Work on coordinating a variety of interviews, meetings, and even informal chats with the media to further your client’s thought leadership outreach. Along with media interviews, award submissions and attending industry events can also help company executives get that extra exposure.

It is also critical to be sure you can “cut through the Kool-Aid.” More healthcare verticals – and even business publications – want vendor neutral stories, with angles that underline thought leadership. Find that right balance of remaining vendor neutral while also demonstrating how your client is different and is transforming care. Lots of healthcare vendors claim that they are “changing the industry,” which is why you must find the unique angle or stance for your client to help them stand out in the crowd.

Know how to write content for varied audiences

I’ve previously broken down the importance of being able to pitch to both healthcare business and trade publications, but PR agencies really do need to stay aware of the audience.

When you have a good understanding of technical, in-the-weeds content, then it will feel comfortable communicating those stories to trade outlets. At the same time, you need to know how to elevate that same content to make it understandable and interesting to top-tier outlets, including business press. For example, content being pitched to EHRIntelligence.com will likely be different than what you pitch to CNBC.

This is also where it is key to understand the different healthcare audiences – there are some pubs that cover vendor tech, others cover hospital/clinical news, some cover medical devices, and others will only cover pharma. Knowing who will and won’t speak to or cover a vendor will be essential.

PR agencies are partners, and should be thought of as an extension of their healthcare clients. Whether it’s marketing, SEO expertise, paid social campaigns, media relations, data analytics, or something else entirely, we’re here to make the road to success as smooth as possible.


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