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COVID-19: Changes and Constants in Healthcare Marketing (Apr 9th)

Alexei Scutari 5zg64owxjg8 Unsplash

While healthcare marketing efforts are devoted  to coronavirus pandemic, your messaging and outreach strategies can’t come to a halt during the current crisis.

This post will explore how you should change your strategy during the time of COVID-19 and how you make use of your existing communications toolbox.

Communications Changes to Adapt to the Coronavirus Crisis

Digital transformation was already a major part of modern communications playbooks for healthcare marketers before the outbreak of COVID-19. But with , we’re all staying connected through our digital channels. That means you should be reaching out to your consumers and community members through those same channels.

Streaming media, including radio and TV, are seeing huge spikes in usage while people are at home more. Look into starting or increasing ad spend for these services — not to promote services that your providers likely can’t deliver right now but to keep front and center in the minds of your consumers.

Demand is up 100%+ on digital channels such as:

  • Hulu
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • YouTube and YouTube TV

If you haven’t already done so, cut physical media advertising, such as newspapers, magazines, billboards. For the most part, these media were already on a downward trend before the pandemic, and the current situation has only accelerated that decline — especially since it’s harder for most casual readers to encounter newspapers and billboards as part of their routines these days.

Staying the Course on Your Essential Communications Strategies

Successfully communicating with your audiences during this pandemic doesn’t always require fundamental shifts in your outreach strategies. Below, we’ll look at some options that are likely continuations of tactics you already have in place.

Of course, you should ensure that your website is a source of truth for all aspects of the coronavirus crisis that affect your consumers. If you have enough content to warrant it, we recommend establishing a landing page for your coronavirus content and then linking out from that page to various areas of your site, such as:

  • Service-line pages: Let patients in vulnerable populations know about their increased risk and how their care might be affected by the coronavirus.
  • Patient and visitor information: What do users need to know before they come to your locations?
  • Classes and events: Update or remove any in-person events that you have postponed or canceled as a result of social distancing policies. If possible, replace what you can with webinars, online courses, or other digital options.

You can review our previous week’s post: COVID Checklist: Five Things Hospital Marketers Should Do This Week

Blog Articles

Blog articles are an effective way to address this rapidly evolving situation. First and foremost, write about COVID-19 and any new developments that may arise, such as changes to your systems and policies or any new recommendations from your providers.

However, you can and should also continue to publish on topics that aren’t related to COVID-19. Normal health and wellness concerns don’t stop during a pandemic. While coronavirus is at the top of everyone’s mind right now, find a way to tie these tangential topics in to the main news of the day. For example:

  • An article about the benefits of yoga could turn into easy yoga exercises readers can do at home while they can’t go to the gym
  • A pediatrics provider could discuss healthy and safe screen-time alternatives for kids who aren’t able to go to school or daycare
  • A psychologist or social worker could write about coping skills and mental-health strategies for those who feel isolated because of social distancing

This will help fill out your editorial calendar once you can resume your normal publishing routine.

Social Media

Social media can help route people from your social pages to relevant information on your website and elsewhere during the pandemic, as they search for new content relating to the crisis. Link to new updates and blog articles related to COVID-19 that you post online. If your subject-matter experts (SMEs) have capacity, conduct video interviews or Facebook Live sessions with them — using proper social-distancing protocols, of course — to update followers on the latest coronavirus news and how it affects your organization. Twitter Q&A sessions are also valuable for organizations who have a strong Twitter following.

Be sure to use the following hashtags to help keep your content in front of those searching for the latest news:

  • #coronavirus
  • #covid19
  • #covid
  • #socialdistancing
  • #stayhome and #stayhomestaysafe (for content relating to home isolation)

Don’t underestimate the need to reference repuatable sites, such as the CDC’s and NIH coronavirus hub.

Finally, take time to post photos and messages that celebrate the front-line providers who are putting themselves at risk to care for COVID-19 patients. Many healthcare organizations are launching formal programs to help facilitate this for their users.

Be Flexible and Willing to Adapt as the Situation Changes

The coronavirus pandemic is a fluid, ever-changing situation. But by having a communications strategy that is flexible enough to let you make changes on the fly, you can manage your efforts efficiently and have the maximum positive impact for the benefit of your consumers.

As always, we’re happy to help provide any support you might need.

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Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths is the GM of the Digital Healthcare Solutions unit at Perficient, where he works with hospital and health plan marketing departments on digital initiatives. DHS services integrated healthcare delivery systems around the United States.

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