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The unpredictable policy seesaw we are experiencing with the new
Administration and Congress appears to be having a tangible impact
on the lives of healthcare communications professionals, and not
just those focused on policy.
The goals may vary: drawing attention to the crucial need for colorectal cancer screening for everyone 50 and older, convincing people to always wear seatbelts while driving, reducing teenage smoking rates or expanding the scope of health insurance in America. Whether the mission is small or large, committed groups of people or organizations—coalitions—can bring together diverse factions and create lasting change for our communities, our country and our world.
An unprecedented wave of disruption in healthcare has caused organizations to revisit their positioning and messaging as they attempt to explain their value and ROI in this turbulent new world.
I recently tried to help my father endure what ended up being a fatal misdiagnosis. What was at first thought to be pneumonia and a pinched vertebrae was eventually diagnosed as aggressive lung cancer. My dad actively managed his own healthcare, regularly went to the doctor, meticulously followed his care plan and consulted with various members of his multidisciplinary healthcare team. Despite all that, the diagnosis proved inaccurate and the outcome was grim. I cite my family’s case to demonstrate that patient engagement is essential yet extremely complicated, and while healthcare in our country is often very good, clinicians and the system are far from perfect. For patients, checking off a to-do list is just not enough to effectively and safely manage complex or chronic medical conditions or to improve overall health.
Great stories—about medical breakthroughs, heroic acts by children, emerging infectious diseases—are relegated to the trash bin, while “Grumpy Cat” is featured on national evening news. There are plenty of reasons this happens. Newsrooms are shrinking. Reporters are more harried since they are asked to write, blog, tweet, appear on video, among other duties. Brand priorities change and resources are limited. But most likely the problem lies in the execution of the pitch.
An important element to an impactful news story is the human element which is why more and more reporters are incorporating the experiences of consumer spokespersons to enhance their story. While a subject matter expert voice is important and helps to provide important information and create credibility, a consumer spokesperson’s first-hand experience can help a story connect with a wider audience. Engaging with a real person’s story allows readers, viewers or listeners to connect to the issue on a direct, personal level.
In a crowded online space, social media posts require targeted messaging and visuals to reach and engage the desired audience. In order to gain traction with consumers, brands must understand what motivates and influences them and produce content that is helpful and relatable. By utilizing measurement tools, brands can get a better sense of what drives engagement and action in their community, and this can help them reach organizational goals.