Remember the good old days when a fancy television commercial and a billboard were considered solid healthcare marketing? Those days are gone and today’s healthcare marketers need to be more innovative if they want to grab and retain the attention of their audience. Today’s consumers relate to personalized, mobile, 24/7, two-way communication, so marketers need more than just a single message. Instead, they need to tell the multifaceted story of the hospital or healthcare system. This is where brand journalism comes into play.
According to Advertising Age , brand journalism is an advertising approach that focuses on developing a “content stream,” involving multi-dimensional messages via multiple channels to multiple audiences. It’s essentially the same approach an editor uses to create a magazine with different content aimed at a variety of interests. “Whereas traditional marketing focuses on how the company can benefit, brand journalism is all about creating content that benefits the audience,” explains Ellen Miller, Skyword.
Brand journalism turns away from traditional positioning methods of distilling the brand’s identity into a singular message that is then repeated through avenues like TV ads and billboards. Successful brand journalism creates meaningful, engaging, and timely content that hospital marketers can provide to media outlets, including TV stations and newspapers, while simultaneously leveraging the same content to promote their brand through hospital-owned media platforms such as blogs and social media.
There will always be public interest in health issues, and timely concerns such as infectious disease or obesity offer an opportunity to engage the audience through topics it cares about. Consumers and the media typically consider hospitals to be a natural source for relatable and reliable content. Creating news stories that are helpful and interesting to consumers positions the hospital as a trustworthy source of information and assistance.
Here are a few tips to help build your brand and engage consumers in a meaningful way:
Ask not what your audience can do for you…
Find out what your target audience is interested in. What are consumers worried about today? What problems are they trying to solve? Create story ideas around what your audience needs to hear, not around what you want to tell it. Create content that benefits the public.
Use subtle messaging
A well-executed brand journalism campaign subtly, if at all, interjects the brand into the story, and the brand never becomes the story. Letting consumers get to know who you are, what your hospital stands for and cares about, and that you are in tune with their needs and concerns are just as crucial as placing your brand in front of them over and over.
Help the media help you
The process for getting coverage in media outlets has changed along with the sources the audience turns to for reliable news. Many bloggers, for example, are now viewed as experts and thought-leaders in a wide variety of areas. Reporters are not the only ones who can disseminate news and help you spread the word about your brand. Create a collection of engaging and relevant content, including video interviews, graphics and scripts, to provide to local and national news sources, including health and lifestyle bloggers, for use in their segments. By making their jobs easier, you are creating relationships with news outlets that serve your community and building credibility with the public.
While the concept is new to many organizations, major companies like Jello, Betty Crocker and John Deere have published their own content for decades. MasterCard, Chrysler and others produce their own news through corporate websites. Check out this infograpraphic from Kuno Creative on the history of brand journalism.
How can your marketing team integrate some brand journalism principles into your work and maintain a relevant brand message?