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Healthcare Marketing: PR No Longer the Ugly Stepsister

PR and publicity are important tactics in creating positive “buzz” for a hospital’s brand.  

154218007PR has always been an important tool of every healthcare marketing department.  But there has been a major shift in the healthcare industry that includes the resurrection of public relations.  Many ad budgets have been cut.  Less is being spent on traditional media.  But in many cases more is being spent in PR and publicity.

Generally, PR has been the poor, ugly stepsister to the advertising function.  PR was just a way to keep the hospital’s name in the newspaper and for hospitals to pat themselves on the back for their community involvement.  PR was considered free and regularly not much more than an afterthought in the marketing plan.  It was an add-on to an advertising campaign or something done to keep the management team and board happy.

But today, many hospitals are placing much more emphasis on PR.  In addition to moving some of the budget from traditional media to new media, event marketing, social media and mobile marketing PR and publicity is playing an increasing important role in the marketing department’s strategy and efforts.   With a shift toward customer-generated media, PR becomes more critical to the hospital’s marketing efforts.

“PR plays into the whole ‘buzz Marketing’ trend”, stated Tony Mikes of Second Wind.  “PR is very much about brand awareness, so we can certainly accord some of the credit for PR’s emergence from the shadows to the rise of branding as a critical marketing tactic.”   Creating “buzz” and keeping the hospital’s name in the news and on the lips of influencers and consumers are extremely important.  As marketing becomes more consumer-driven and consumer- controlled, PR and publicity can play an even bigger role and sometimes more effective role than advertising in enhancing the brand in the minds of the consumers.

PR and publicity are also important for place-based media efforts.  Pre-promotion of staged events creates attendance and media coverage while post-promotion extends the chatter.

PR should no longer be an afterthought, but an “automatic.”   PR and publicity can boost the hospital’s brand organically and authentically.  Complimenting and enhancing all the other marketing activities.

Healthcare Marketing: Let’s HEAR it for the Brand!

rbsb2_07Just like brand visuals, audio can help recognize, identify, position and enhance a brand.

Imagine a swoosh.  What do you think of?  Nike, of course.  When you see the NBC peacock, does a sound come to mind?  It’s the three distinctive chimes that have been associated with NBC since the 1920s.   It’s almost impossible for anyone who has a television to hear those three notes without conjuring up the brand.  Which proves audio branding can be just as strong as a great visual.

Just like a strong established visual, sounds can also reach beyond the rational mind and tap into memories and emotions.  Audio branding uses sounds to create memories or positive memory triggers that help recall a specific brand in the mind of consumers.  As LeeBeth Cranmer, writing for SecondWind states,  “It’s not merely background music but a sound that represent the identity and values of a brand in a distinctive manner.

 McDonalds is another brand that effectively uses audio branding.  As soon as you hear that “I’m l Lovin It” audio you probably think about the golden arches.  United Airlines has used an adaptation of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” for generations.  And who can hear the four Intel tones and not think of “Intel Inside?

The power of audio branding has been evident since the early days of radio when jingles were so prevalent.  As Cranmer continues,  “ in our modern age of advertising and marketing, audio branding is more important than ever due to the increased number of touch points available to promote your brand through sound.”

Because we live in an age of sound, there is a great opportunity to tap into a medium that can create strong memories and emotional connections with your brand.  Healthcare marketers should consider audio branding as a component of their marketing strategy.

And audio branding is not limited to music or musical tones.  It could be a distinctive voice, a sound effect or a particular way of saying a tagline.  We spend great amount of effort and money working on the visual identity of our healthcare brand.  Strong consideration should be given to creating that audio identity as well.  To make sure your brand is not just seen but also heard.