5 approaches to consider in 2019

The new year requires some new tactics, says Eileen Sheil, Cleveland Clinic

The practice of public relations is evolving rapidly as the media landscape and communication tools constantly change. In 2019, our team will be focusing on many of the same priorities as in the past but also adding some new approaches.

First, we are intentionally blurring internal and external communications because the stories we tell externally are just as important to our internal audiences.

In healthcare, stories about clinical excellence intended for the public also instill a sense of pride for our caregivers. We want our employees to be ambassadors who share the Cleveland Clinic story and much of what say externally can certainly start from within.

Second, our internal and external comms pros must be strategic partners, not order-takers or press release creators. We need to work with internal stakeholders, the media, and key external influencers who request information from our organizations.

But the hard part is focusing on what’s important and avoiding what is not. At Cleveland Clinic, we do that by aligning our communication strategy with our 5-year strategic plan. This way, our employees and our community know where we’re headed and how we plan on getting there.

Third, we are blending our traditional media outreach with content development and storytelling. Yes, the media still matters and has broader reach than we could ever have on our own. But when we partner with the media for a story, we also create related content to share with key audiences such as patient groups or influential organizations with common interests.

Fourth, integration and collaboration is a key part of our success. Partnering with marketing colleagues brings extra talent to the project and there’s always a greater impact when paid, owned, earned and shared tactics work together. We do this more often on our major initiatives, like the campaign to build awareness for heart health in February.

Finally, I’m a firm believer in measurement. We need to be on par with our marketing counterparts in effectively measuring the value of PR by using metrics that matter.

In the end, these ideas are constantly evolving. Strong teamwork allows for trying new approaches, creative thinking, and measuring outcomes that will help move you forward in today’s PR and communication environment.

Eileen Sheil is executive director of corporate communications at Cleveland Clinic. She can be reached at sheile@ccf.org. She is also on the IPR Board of Trustees and is a member of AMEC.

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