Healthcare Communication: How to Not Sound Like Everyone Else in Five Easy Steps
I got a pretty good laugh the other day from a NY Magazine slideshow on “How to Create a USA Show in Six Easy Steps” (and then secretly went home to set my DVR to record re-runs of “Burn Notice”). But it actually reminded me of the increasing number of healthcare companies today whose messages sound exactly the same. Now that the industry has collectively set its sights on the Triple Aim – better care, lower cost, healthier patients – it seems to be tripping over various combinations of the same set of words that don’t always clearly illustrate or differentiate what these companies DO (and for anyone who's been to HIMSS, you know what I’m talking about!).
With so many healthcare companies fighting for their slice of the market and media mindshare, it’s harder than ever to sound “unique” (whoops, I might be violating one of my own rules – keep reading). Taking a cue from USA Network’s special sauce, here are five easy steps that will help healthcare companies avoid the pitfall of losing their voices in the shuffle:
1) Mind your buzzwords – We’re all excited about “the unique delivery of better patient outcomes” and “robust strategies for coordination of care” – but don’t let your audience's eyes glaze over in the process of telling them about how you do it. Strip out what doesn’t need to be there and stick with the facts.
2) Don’t make us guess – Even though the end result for every company is ultimately about driving efficiencies and enhancing care, when potential customers land on a website, it shouldn’t take 24 clicks or 16 reads of a boilerplate before they kinda sorta figure out exactly what it is that you offer.
3) Tell it to your grandmother – Press releases especially seem to have become the vehicle for complicating a story more than ever before, instead of pointing the media in the right direction. If in the first three lines your grandmother can’t understand why your news is important to hospitals, physicians or patients, take a step back and just say it like it is.
4) Talk about what you know, not just what you DO – With accountable care bringing so many parts of healthcare even closer together, showing that your company is full of smart people with executives that really “get” the broader industry challenges – even if it means not talking about features and functionalities of a specific product – will open doors to true thought leadership.
5) Speak up – Social media in the healthcare world has gained some decent traction over the past few years, but some companies are still in a “wait and see” mode as the conversations around them are churning. Weighing in on blogs and offering perspectives on Twitter will reveal what’s important to you and help clarify where your company fits in.
Net-net – there are far too many creative marketers out there, and I really don’t want to see health care communication go the way of USA primetime dramas. In the meantime, it’s time for me to catch the latest episode of “Psych.”