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Rapid Response Healthcare Blogging: Blog Fast, Blog Smart, Blog Well

Blogging is a great way to establish your healthcare organization and your providers as thought-leaders in the communities you serve. But as your audience members come to trust your organization, they will look to you as a trusted resource when healthcare issues arise in the news. That’s where rapid response comes in.

Rapid response blogging is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a fast reaction to something that your audience members hear about elsewhere. The concept is easy. But executing it successfully can be tough. It takes talent and trust to make this an asset. But if you can do it well, rapid response articles can be a powerful tool in your marketing kit.

Let’s look at how you can use rapid response pieces as part of your healthcare blogging strategy.

You must capitalize on healthcare news people have heard about

First, we’ll start with the “response” part of the equation. The premise depends on (a) an event or idea being presented and (b) a healthcare provider or other trusted source at your organization being the face of either agreement or opposition. If the (a) part isn’t there, then you’re just advancing an agenda. And your audience members are less likely to tune in for that.

So scour the sources of news your consumers are most likely to trust for their healthcare news. These should include:

  • Local news media (TV stations, radio, newspapers, etc.)
  • National media
  • Social media

Set up Google Alerts to let you know about hot-button topics that touch on services your organization is known for or items that have been in the news. But keep an eye out for things that may not be a part of the local newscast. A few years back, we helped a client put together a successful rapid response piece that reacted to a skit on “Saturday Night Live.” Another time, a client that ran a burn unit asked us to help them put together an article after the death of a beloved character on the TV show “This Is Us” (spoiler alert for that link ). Be mindful of current trends and ideas related to healthcare in pop culture. And look for opportunities for your experts to bring their trusted knowledge to a wider audience.

Once you have a few rapid response pieces published, ask your providers and service-line leads to give you a heads-up if they see something they want to respond to. This give you another set of eyes for potential content. And it will also give you a head start on which of your providers should review the piece and get the byline (since, as we recommended before, you should be ghostwriting for your healthcare providers).

Rapid response blogging must be fast

Now let’s talk about the “rapid” part of our topic. It may seem like a “duh” statement. But more than anything else, rapid response requires speed.

A meme of a scene from the film "Top Gun."

(Oh, come on. You were thinking about it too.)

It sometimes can be hard for clients who have established a successful blog strategy to understand. But unlike most of your healthcare blog articles, which you can use and reuse multiple times over several years, rapid responses likely will have a limited shelf life — weeks at best; days are more likely.

Because you’re capitalizing on a spike in search traffic around a controversial topic, you must get your article online as soon as possible after the newsworthy event. Ideally, you would have your article up within a few hours afterward, and 24 hours is about the outside range of what we would recommend.

If it’s not possible within your organization to have something approved and published within 48 hours at the most, don’t bother with a rapid response. By then, most of your audience members will have moved on. The surge in search interest for the relevant topic will have waned. In short, you will have missed your window.

But if you can move fast enough, and if you can present a valid and engaging response, the rewards can be massive. Your article could go viral on your social channels. You could get earned media from your local (or national) news outlets. And, most importantly, you could gain greater outreach and awareness with your potential consumers.

When you have a rapid response piece go live, make sure you promote, boost, cross-post and take every step to help it go as wide as possible. Get your subject-matter expert (SME) to link to it on their social channels, and ask others to do the same. This is not the time for a conservative approach. But make sure your social posts are appropriate for the individual channel. For example, find a way to make a post relevant to work or business if you post on LinkedIn.

Your articles should be about provocative topics

People tend to remember stories that evoke a powerful emotion — surprise, happiness, sadness, anger and so on. Rapid responses work best when they react to a story that has provoked that sort of response from people. If a news story or an event in pop culture has touched the world of healthcare and prompted some emotional reactions, think about whether your experts should weigh in and help set the record straight.

That doesn’t mean you must disagree for a successful rapid response. Just don’t be afraid to disagree if your providers have correct information that needs to be shared. And be prepared to prove why you’re right. Scientific study results, trial outcomes and other data can help strengthen your position, particularly if you’re disagreeing with an opinion or finding that has gotten lots of media attention.

These sorts of principled stands can help cement your organization’s reputation as a thought-leader in your area. With the inherent trust consumers have for healthcare providers, it’s important to share factual information about healthcare issues to educate and to calm when needed (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic). And it’s good to show where your team stands on certain topics, especially for younger generations of healthcare consumers (such as Generation Z).

Rapid response blogging has to be (somewhat) independent

To be nimble enough to be effective, your rapid response efforts have to come with a certain amount of trust. That’s because, like we talked about above, you have to be fast.

Painstaking, thorough review is OK for an evergreen article that’s going to be as accurate two years from now as it is two days from now. But for an article of this nature, you’re limited on time. Your process can’t wait for your boss to be back online in a week or your boss’s boss to get back from the executive retreat on Thursday. You will need to streamline your review process as much as possible for rapid response blogging to be effective.

We do recommend arranging a fast review and approval from your SME who will have the byline for the article. After all, it’s their name out there, and they’ll be the one doing interviews with your local news organizations if the piece goes viral. But before needing to activate your rapid response protocols, work out the absolute bare-minimum approvals process that needs to be in place to be able to act quickly and decisively.

Get your rapid response strategy up and running

Whether you have a successful healthcare blog program already or need to start from scratch, rapid responses are a great way to increase traffic and make more people aware of your organization. But it can be a tough undertaking for even the strongest marketing teams. If you need help, we’re here for you.

Perficient’s healthcare-exclusive content strategists work alongside healthcare marketing teams throughout the United States on personalized solutions for their content needs. We can work with you to design and implement a blogging strategy, including rapid response, that helps highlight your team’s unmatched expertise. Contact us to learn how.

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Michael Adkins, Senior Content Strategist, Digital Health Strategy

As part of Perficient's Digital Health Strategy team, Michael partners with healthcare organizations to create informative, conversion-centered content for a variety of applications, including websites and blogs. Michael writes content that highlights clients’ service-line offerings, expertise in unique treatments, differentiators in competitive markets and additional factors that are important to patients.

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