PRWeek Healthcare & Pharma Comms Awards winners: Best Healthcare/Pharma Crisis Comms Response Around COVID-19

Spire Healthcare's COVID-19 response by Instinctif Partners and Spire Healthcare.

Thirty eight of Spire’s 39-strong hospital estate was placed at the NHS’s disposal amid the COVID crisis. As the only listed private healthcare provider, Spire faced a unique challenge in communicating its involvement and maintaining the confidence of stakeholders.

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The answer was an effective, multi-channel campaign to reach Spire’s crucial audiences.

For patients and consumers, a media programme focused on in-depth features with national newspapers and local TV news items, spotlighting the number and type of treatment NHS patients received at Spire hospitals. It delivered 10 in-depth interviews across local television and radio, generating 49 mentions. The campaign led to 649 pieces of coverage. Spire’s share of voice increased from 22 per cent in January 2020 to 36.5 per cent in June, overtaking competitors. Negative social media mentions fell from 222 in March to 12 in May.

Employee engagement included ‘Spire Superstar Shout Outs’, where colleagues shared anecdotes where colleagues had gone 'above and beyond'. The mentions were circulated daily across the business. One example is a poem written by Stephen Fry to the staff at Spire Norwich. A new staff engagement app was downloaded 8,000 times. An internal survey in July found 80 per cent of Spire’s team feel proud to work for the firm.

For investors, communications reinforced Spire’s financial viability and continued positive long-term prospects. Eight RNS comms were issued, alongside formal announcements or developments in the agreement. They generated 297 pieces of coverage.

Evidence was submitted to the Health Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiries on the pandemic, with the former commending the role the sector played tackling COVID-19 within its report.

Meanwhile, an in-depth interview in The Sunday Times Business section with Spire CEO Justin Ash on May 10 enhanced the company’s corporate reputation and brand as a responsible, caring business - mitigating potential criticism of the NHS agreement.

Judge's comment: 

"Well balanced campaign that was able to target all stakeholder groups effectively" 

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