The dizzying pace of change in the Washington health policy climate under a new administration presents unpredictable challenges for those of us working in health care communications. Rapid-paced executive orders and seemingly contradictory announcements can create a chaotic information environment.
But as communicators, we can’t let this hold us back from doing what we do best. We must be prepared for anything that could impact our clients. And that’s why, even if we don’t work specifically in public affairs, it is important to stay on top of the swirl of news coming not only from the White House, but from the Hill as well. I’ve outlined here a few tactics that have been helpful for me in navigating the political landscape:
In public relations, we are surrounded by news, whether it’s CNN playing in our offices eight hours a day or regularly monitoring The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other sites. However, it’s important to make sure that you prioritize the topics and issues that your clients care about. For hospital or health system clients, for example, start your day scanning health care outlets and sign up for email subscriptions from sites like STAT or Kaiser Health News. This way, you’ll always be on top of the most important health care news of the day and will be prepared if there is any breaking news that could impact your client.
Subscribing to specific issue-oriented email blasts is a great way to stay informed of industry news, but now that we have a new administration and new majorities in Congress, it is important to touch all bases. One of the best ways to do this is to subscribe to POLITICO or The Hill newsletters and email blasts. These allow you to choose which topics are most important. They provide a narrow lens so that you can cut through the noise and focus on what matters to your clients, such as policy developments in areas including energy, cybersecurity, finance, and education.
Another way to help your clients stay informed of relevant issues is to write a weekly round-up of specific industry news, with a focus on congressional actions or influence. Even if there isn’t a piece of legislation up for a vote that week, Congress holds hearings and briefings on many issues, or makes statements about plans for legislation. No matter what, there’s bound to be a good amount of relevant political news for your clients every week. It can be very helpful to gather all of that into one source for your clients. When I’ve done this in the past, our clients valued it. In fact, our weekly listserv newsletter grew to over 200 people and we were consistently reminded of how much our clients relied on it.
More and more, senators and representatives are using Twitter to communicate with the public. Following legislators from committees that are pertinent to your clients could help you receive important policy updates as soon as they happen, which will allow you and your clients to respond sooner rather than later.
Taking these actions will help you stay ahead of the political chaos and make you all the more valuable to your clients.