Health and medical stories are major topics in the news on a daily basis. Whether a news story has to do with the distribution of health care or with a new medical breakthrough, medicine and health care command the media’s attention. Health care is a business and for it to be effective it needs to be treated as one. This has always been true, but never more so than in today’s insurance and reimbursement environment. Because of that physician, health care and hospital marketing is more critical than ever. Effective media relations and PR is a necessity to help ensure continuing viability of hospitals, medical centers and medical practices in the local level and to provide the high quality of individual health care Americans expect.
The world of health care and medicine is changing and to remain effective and successful hospitals and medical institutions need to change with the times. As major changes take affect in the healthcare environment, medical providers need to understand that they are subject to the same media and market pressures and changes as any other business. Those who will succeed will understand that the landscape has changed, and they will effectively react to those changes. Marketing is a necessity if a hospital or medical center is going to succeed. There is a definite need for scrutiny, strategic planning and communication programs in order to most effectively utilize the limited resources while providing top of the line medical care. This is where hospital media relations and PR come in.
Media relations and community relations, both fall under the umbrella of public relations. Although they are often confused, they are very different processes. Each has its own objectives and focus. Media relations includes but is not limited to, developing targeted media lists, the writing and distribution of news releases, the distribution of information and releases to the media, and arranging press, radio and television interviews
Media relations is particularly important in the medical field. Patients choose a hospital or medical provider based on trust. Even in the case where the medical provider is chosen for the patient it is important that a sense of trust is created. It is precisely because the trust factor is so important that PR is the most effective form of marketing available for hospitals and health care providers. Unlike advertising or direct marketing, public relations is the only form of marketing that offers the credibility and validation of being featured in the news. The public learns of most new medical breakthroughs, studies, or procedures from the media. The physicians interviewed, or hospitals that are featured benefit from that coverage. PR needs to be an integral part of any hospital’s business plan. A successful media relations campaign not only educates and informs. Used effectively, PR can not only build a hospital’s brand and patient base, it can usher in new concepts and perspectives and shape the ideas of a community.
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