Brand Journalism: Health Providers Embracing New Storytelling Strategy

The movement toward brand journalism offers special benefits to the health industry. Healthcare affects everyone’s life, so audiences naturally relate to timely news and information about topics like medical advances, patient treatments and personal health advice. Equally compelling are the human-interest stories that abound in the healthcare field.

Such high-interest content makes brand journalism sites a no-brainer for many healthcare providers.

In fact, several top healthcare organizations have implemented this storytelling tool and are seeing success. For those considering adopting this approach, we’ve shared a few examples of providers who are setting the standard.

Advocate Health Care health enews

Advocate Health Care, a hospital group in the Chicago suburbs, launched health enews a year ago to increase mindshare among local journalists and consumers.  An in-house newsroom of six core communicators develops content for the site, including videos, feature stories and commentary on breaking health news.

Advocate Health 2 (3)While the site’s intent is to build awareness of Advocate’s services and expertise, some of the most captivating articles are personal stories told by people within the organization.

For example, Tim Nelson, an Advocate public affairs manager, shared his experience helping his…

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Digital Marketing

How Many Facebook Pages Does One Company Need?

Three companies who have it all figured out

Facebook-Like10A single company can have a million services, but they only have one brand. Maybe that means one Facebook page, too. But what happens when consumers want to connect with only some of your services?

Take a medical group, for example, which consists of different practices in different locations. The medical group provides healthcare services from pediatrics to women’s health to physical therapy. These disparate target audiences are thirsty for content just for them. As a brand, you must choose between a consistent master brand presence and a meaningful and targeted connection with customers. How do you win a war against yourself? If the medical group’s women’s health practice wants to start their own Facebook Page, you have to decide if this dilutes the brand’s social media presence or enhances it. Some are inclined to say this splinters the brand, but the proof is in the engagement.

Here are tips from 3 health focused brands that have it figured out:

1.       Aetna
I had the opportunity to meet Lauren Vargas, Head of Social Media and Community at Aetna, a few weeks ago at xPotomac. Lauren…

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2 Steps to Save A Life

Last Thanksgiving Jeff Joseph was running in the 5K Turkey Trot in St. Paul, when he suddenly collapsed. His heart had stopped; he was dead. Quite fortunately, Bruce Kiecker, a nurse with St. Paul’s United Hospital, was also participating in the Turkey Trot. Bruce didn’t hesitate to intervene and started CPR on Jeff. Bruce continued hands-only CPR until the ambulance arrived 10 minutes later.

The willingness of random bystanders to perform CPR is crucial in saving a life. In fact, only 7 percent of people who have a sudden cardiac arrest survive. In Minnesota, the survival rate is more than double that, at 16 percent. Because of the quick action of Bruce, Jeff is alive and anxiously awaiting the birth of his first child, due later this month.

The executive director of the Twin Cities chapter of the American Heart Association made a special presentation to Bruce and Jeff at a recent AHA board meeting held at the PadillaCRT Minneapolis headquarters. AHA’s Barb Ducharme gave Jeff a CPR Anytime Kit, and Bruce received the CPR Save Award for his courage, composure and compassion.

But you don’t have to be a medical professional to help someone in cardiac arrest. How can…

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4 Tips to Get Your Health Care Company LinkedIn

If you’re a health care company, you probably need to do a lot of work on your LinkedIn presence. The professional networking site is too often relegated to an online jobs board, despite the multiple content-sharing tools the site has introduced over the last year. In fact, just this week LinkedIn opened up its previously invitation-only “influencers” program to everyone, giving users the opportunity to publish full-length content.

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Corporate Responsibility

Are Retail Clinics Just What the Doctor Ordered?


Last week, CVS Caremark announced that it was pulling cigarettes and other tobacco products from its stores because it wanted to focus on becoming more of a health care provider, with CEO Larry J. Merlo stating, “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting.”  And, while the retailer will lose about $2 billion per year as a result of the move, it stands to gain much more.  Merlo said the decision to stop selling tobacco products “was really more of a discussion about how to position the company for future growth.”

CVS has the largest chain of pharmacy-based health clinics in the United States, offering care for common illnesses, like strep throat and pink eye (Bob Costas could benefit from a visit).  By 2017, it anticipates growing clinic locations to 1,500.  Retail health care is becoming big business with approximately 20 million patient visits to date and Accenture indicates that the industry could see 25% to 30% growth in the next few years. What about CVS’ move positions the retailer to take advantage of the opportunity?

  • A perfect storm – there is a shortage of primary care doctors…
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5 Must-Read Health Communication Posts

Piedmont Healthcare InstagramWith so much good content on the internet, it’s easy to miss a good post. This week as I was looking through past posts on the Buzz Bin, I stumbled upon so many great past posts that I enjoyed reading and learning from all over again. So this Thursday, I’m sharing five  must-read oldie but goodie health communication posts from the Buzz Bin.

1. When Does an Awareness Campaign Go Too Far?

Why: As a seasoned health communicator and mother, Kim Blake never ceases to amaze us with insightful posts on often controversial topics. In this post Kim reminds communicators to focus on the purpose of awareness campaigns – to motivate behavior change.

2. The One Percent in Healthcare – Can Hospitals Make It Personal?

Why: With healthcare on a mission to reduce costs and improve outcomes,  April Sciacchitano’s post looks at the possibility of personalized care. With affordable and personal concierge medical practices and start-ups popping up across the country, personal care is proving to be a viable solution.

3. If Social Media Can Create Organ Donors, It Can Work for You Too

Why:  With February 14th right around the corner,…

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Brand Journalism: The New Model for Healthcare Public Relations – Part 1

1347725_72659105If you are a journalist looking for new opportunities, check out the healthcare industry. And, if you are managing a healthcare marketing and public relations department, you should think about having a journalist on board, if you don’t already. Why? Because healthcare public relations needs to evolve to a brand journalism model in order to maximize the opportunity to connect with an audience searching for  information that’s local, fresh and relevant to them.

Twenty years ago we could count on the local media to carry our story for us. Not today. The makeup of local news has changed. To begin with, there are fewer local news reporters in television and print to cover the news. According to the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013 report, the newspaper industry has seen a 30 percent decline in newsroom staff over the past decade. Local television viewership continues to decline, although online usage is up which bodes well for TV’s ability to capture younger audiences. Still, local TV devotes more time to breaking news, weather, traffic and sports than enterprise or feature stories, where most health stories reside.

At the same time,…

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Youtility: Be a farmer, not just a hunter

My colleagues and I recently attended the Hampton Roads American Marketing Association luncheon with guest speaker Jay Baer. The New York Times best-selling author and president of the marketing consulting company, Convince & Convert, spoke to the crowd about his concept of Youtility, the shift away from selling towards providing useful information and help to anyone, not just customers. Jay captivated the audience, changing how we view, treat and attract consumers. Here are three major takeaways from the luncheon:

Be a farmer, not just a hunter. I’m sure you’ve felt this way before: meeting goals set by your boss or company can feel like a legitimate hunt. Incessantly contacting the media for that one big hit, manning your client’s booth at a conference or even using stunt techniques like devil babies in strollers – these actions all are strikingly similar in one sense: they scream, “Me! Me! Me! Look at what I have!”

In today’s marketplace, people are overwhelmed by marketers and their constant efforts to be in front of consumers. Jay calls for a shift in how companies interact with consumers. When creating content, think to yourself, Would…

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Digital Marketing

6 Behind the Scenes Lessons of a Video Gone Viral

The “let’s make a viral video” request makes me cringe a little inside. Why? Well for one, what really constitutes a viral video? And second, you can never be absolutely sure something will catch fire and spread. There is always an element of uncertainty in creating a viral video. This is why I don’t believe in creating a viral video, I believe in combining viral ingredients; because it takes more than clicking publish on a video and praying for it to have any chance of going viral.

We recently worked with our client Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) to create this video gone viral.

Inspired by lessons I learned from this video, here are 6 ingredients I believe are essential to creating a potentially viral video recipe:  

1. Tell a great story

No matter what you’re selling or what action you want your audience to take, your story is the most important focus. If you tell a genuinely compelling story, your product or service will sell itself. The key is really to make a video that elicits a strong enough emotion or reaction from your audience that they feel compelled to share it with everyone they know. I assure you a…

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Digital Marketing

Show NOT Tell: The 7 Best Health Infographics of 2013

Did you know that 99% of the information we receive each day is almost immediately filtered out by our brains? In order to be successful, marketers have to determine ways to place their content in the elite 1% that survives; and with visuals being processed 60,000 times faster than text, infographics could be the answer. In the last two years, Google searches for infographics have increased by 800%; they’ve become so popular in fact, we are now creating infographics about infographics!

Infographics are especially useful in an industry like health, which is driven by data and numbers (not exactly content that leaves you on the edge of your seat). Don’t get me wrong, us health communicators have hoards of valuable information to share, but in a world where Miley Cyrus makes more headlines than a potential cure for Alzheimer’s, we have to find ways for our messages to cut through the clutter. Some organizations are leading the charge, mastering the use of infographics for information dissemination. The following are my favorite health-related infographics from 2013, in no particular order.

  • The Affordable Care Act: Addressing the Unique Health Needs of Women- Created by the Office on Women’s Health,
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