I’ve been in healthcare PR for most of my career and have had ample time to try new things, fail at some, and learn a great deal from many amazing experiences.
I’ve also had the chance to cross paths with many individuals and learn from other industries, professionals, academics, and more. I feel I can share key ingredients that PR teams should be focused on.
Be strategic about PR
We should take time to know our organization inside and out. We should be experts on our industry and what affects it. Know your company’s narrative and be consistent in how you talk about your organization to your customers and stakeholders. Everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s important to conduct reputation research, gain insights from it, and develop a PR strategy that aligns with your business goals. You need to know who your audience is and how best to communicate with it. Use what you know from data, analytics, and research to alter your PR strategy as needed.
The world has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. Technology has changed how we shop, how we communicate, how we learn, how we get news, and more. Your message and story need to be in the digital world. Traditional media is essential to PR professionals as it lends great credibility, but amplifying your news digitally is a must. Telling your own story is a big part of that.
Measure the value of PR
The Barcelona Principles were developed to provide standardized guidelines to PR professionals on how to measure the real value of PR. Advertising equivalent is not the value of PR and should not be used. Quality and quantity of coverage both matter, but quality takes people deeper into understanding your brand and can better build your reputation. Get comfortable with metrics, data, and analytics and learn how to use them to drive your strategy for internal and external communications efforts.
Be one communications team and build one strategy
No longer can we really say one team does internal communications and another does external communications. The lines are blurring, and companies need to have one voice to all stakeholders. That should start internally with your employees.
Know this is a journey
Evolving as a communications team takes time. You learn a great deal from mistakes. Share what you know and learn from others who’ve been through similar challenges. Celebrate the wins and congratulate your team. They work hard and and bring great ideas to the table. No one can do it alone.
At Cleveland Clinic, we are trying new communication approaches that better reach our target audiences through the media and to our key stakeholders. Sharing our stories internally and externally about patient care, innovative procedures, medical research, opinions on important healthcare issues, and breaking news will help people know more about the work we do to help patients locally, nationally, and around the globe.
Eileen Sheil is executive director of corporate communications at the Cleveland Clinic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.