Healthcare communicators must steep themselves in social media

During the Clinton Administration, the main piece of reform on the table was in healthcare. Multiple plans were introduced with various methods of payment...

During the Clinton Administration, the main piece of reform on the table was in healthcare. Multiple plans were introduced with various methods of payment and responsibility on the part of a span of stakeholders that ended in failure. But the hallmark of that era was the communications battle itself, which was fierce and still today is characterized by the Harry and Louis advertisements that ultimately defeated the reform movement.

That was sixteen years ago. Since then, everything in public affairs has changed, and TV ads are not necessarily the key way to influence voters or policy makers.

President Obama was elected for many reasons. But clearly, one of the things that helped him was his understanding of communications and the way that people today are motivated via Web 2.0. Ads are a part of it, but now there is much more to it. There is Web 2.0 and social media – a place where people who are interested in particular topics get messages targeted specifically to them and pass the information along to other people who respect their point of view. The winners in today’s battle for healthcare reform will have to understand the tools, how to they work, and moreover, how to assess the impact of all the players.



Twitter, Facebook, Text Messaging, RSS feeds, Twinfluence – they all sound funny, leading some to take them less seriously. But as I like to say, Google sounded funny at one time, and today it is an unparalleled information empire.

For those helping stakeholders who are joining in the current healthcare debate, the time has come and gone to get familiar with all of the many tools at hand to target specific populations and motivate them into action on a public affairs front. If you haven’t set up your own RSS Feeds, and aren’t able to counsel your clients on doing it, you have already lost.

Mark Senak, SVP, Fleishman-Hillard, and author of the Eye on FDA blog.

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