Sunday, April 16, 2017

14 Steps for Crisis Communications in an Age of Social Media & Customers as the Paparazzi

I am not going to pile on United, though they have had a bad few weeks with two full-blown public relations crisis’s in social media in the last three weeks.  But it does make one wonder if United has any capacity to learn from their mistakes given the flow of events and missteps of the past few days.

Are you paying attention?

If companies are not paying attention, especially hospital and health systems, on how the public is the paparazzi, then they can expect sooner rather than later,  that they will experience a meltdown of the provider brand and reputation through their carelessness and folly.

What happens when the social media channel turns bad on the hospital or health system?

Conventional wisdom used to say that a public relations crisis were a three-day story. Ten years ago that was the case.  Today, however, it’s a different story with social media, Facebook live and any of the other distribution channels now available.  Before, a PR crisis could be contained locally or regionally. Now with live video and social media streaming, it can become a global crisis in a mere matter of minutes.



I am not minimizing in any fashion the seriousness of what is taking place. It’s to get one’s attention. Sometimes it becomes way too easy to panic. And that needs to be avoided at all costs. Just ask United.

Take these steps to mitigate the social media communications crisis to protect the brand and organizational reputation. Many of the steps are parallel and not sequential.

The 14 steps for a public relations crisis driven by the consumer paparazzi and social media:

1.)    Do treat this as a communications failure and have a social media crisis communications plan already in place. 
2.)    Care, concern, and compassion still rule the message and the days that follow. 
3.)    Don’t jump right to the “we followed policy and staff acted appropriately.”  That makes you tone deaf and unresponsive. Plus those kinds of remarks will just further add more combustible fuel to the raging fire. 
4.)    Don’t change your message or position every day. You will look foolish and unprepared. 
5.)    Understand what happened and why. 
6.)     Identify who the influencers will be to add voice and impact the conversation. 
7.)    Actively monitor your online reputation. 
8.)    Avoid the informational black hole.  Be ready with appropriate information and press statements.  You can’t hold a news conference every time you want to say something. 
9.)    Have social media appropriate messaging that is clear and concise.
10.) Integrate your response across all social media activities. Remember that some reporters use Twitter as a basis for information and facts without verifying the authenticity of the information. 
11.) If the organization blew it, take ownership.  No excuses, the appearances of excuses or rude behavior are allowed.  Social media users are a pretty savvy group and will see right through it. It will only make matters worse.  
12.) Integrate paid and earned media.  
13.) Have clear rules of social media engagement by employees.   
14.)  Don’t forget to use your staff and their access to social media and how they can influence the conversation.  Employees are your secret weapon in this battle.

And lastly, learn from United. Hundreds of millions of dollars in lost equity and capitalization with a negative brand reputation that will take years to recover. Here is hoping that a social media crisis never comes to your doorstep.

But you can always call me when it does. Have the checkbook ready too
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Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Has Influencer Marketing’s Time Arrived for Providers?

Influencer marketing is generating a lot of attention.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of activity but the little strategy behind the marketing. Oh, and let me be clear before going much further,  that I do not mean hiring celebrities to be the spokesperson for the providers B2C marketing.

Hiring a celebrity to be the spokesperson the hospital or health system can be an expensive and risky proposition. Not everyone in the entertainment segment or sport they represent may have a large enough following in your market.

What is influencer marketing?

Simply put, a person of influence can effect action.  Fans, friends, and followers are meaningless; it’s not about going after the most famous person. It’s about finding the influencer who can best move your audience to take action that brings benefit to you and them.  An influencer may be an industry expert. It may be someone internally. 

Think of influencer marketing as a relationship that co-creates meaningful content within a strategic marketing plan with defined goals that is measurable. Influencer marketing is not creating isolated pieces of content or campaigns. You want to build respective value beyond compensation.

Influencer marketing missteps to avoid.

There has been a limited effort to date on providers part in using influencer marketing. But from what I have seen, here are five things to avoid.  

1.       One-off campaigns: Using influencers once then abandoning the effort only to start again does little to change or influence the potential healthcare consumer. You must aim for sustainability. 
2.       Don’t focus on celebrities. Stars granted have a broad audience, but they are hard to reach, expensive to activate and may not be the most relevant. 
3.       Using Influence marketing for ads only: Sure the endorsement looks great in the ad, and it makes the board and doctors happy. But, is that driving the healthcare consumer to you? Doubtful. You need to co-create content and let the influencer step out and work on your behalf. 
4.       Pay-to-Play: I am not saying that you should not pay influencers. But what I am saying is that if the only value exchange between you and the influencer is cash, and you are not co-creating great content; then there is no mutual benefit. The benefit is one-sided, theirs. 
5.       Not measuring the right metrics: You can measure the business value of influencer marketing, not just social media engagements and brand lift. Start with the right goals and metrics to measure these aims.

What you need to in influencer marketing. 

1.       Have an adequate budget. It’s important to understand the opportunity for return on investment. What does it cost to implement the program measured against the cost of losing access to the top influencers in your market when the competition gets there first.  Think about it as a program, not unique projects. Long-term relationships create the most value for your spend. 
2.       Follow the insight.  That means doing your market research to understand the hospitals market and identify those influencers who can affect change and move the market. Don’t guess, know. 
3.       Identify the top influencer marketing goals. The influencer marketing program is about ROI, not brand lift and awareness. Make sure your goals and the influencers goals are in alignment. 
4.       Identify what areas are most impacted by influencer marketing. Social media marketing and content marketing are your best areas. Remember that social media is a baseline. Look to your make your program highly integrated across the organization and commercialization channels. The healthcare consumer is omnichannel which means that your influencer marketing needs to be omnichannel as well.

It is easy to get started in influencer marketing. From those first steps, you can grow your efforts in creating a sustainable long-term program built on relationships and moving markets.

Remember influencer marketing is additive, not exclusive, and long-term not short-term.
Influencer marketing’s time has come for providers, but it’s not celebrity driven, and one-off campaigns.  It’s about long-term beneficial relationships that create value for sustained success.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.