In some ways, healthcare is an especially tricky industry for marketers. You have to worry about strict regulations and controversial topics. But one particular area can be a boon to healthcare content marketers: news.
The healthcare industry is both massive and hugely important to all segments of society. With that comes a steady stream of news coverage that spans new health research, healthcare legislation and trends in diet and exercise. On any given day, you can bet there will be a new article (or 10) covering the healthcare industry in each of the biggest media outlets.
All this news coverage means healthcare marketers, with just a little effort, will never be at a loss for topics to cover.
There’s more than one right way to spot news ideas with the potential to become great marketing content, but if you don’t have a system yet, this might help you get started.
Using news in content marketing always works best if you can be quick about it, so you want to be consistent about following what’s going on in healthcare news.
If you devote some time each morning to reviewing what hot topics the media is covering, you should find plenty of news stories that may serve as the basis for rich, relevant content. To avoid having to visit a lot of different websites each day, use a tool like Feedly to collect all the best ones into one feed. Identify the ones you think are worth covering, and then brainstorm the best angle to take (our tips below can help with that part).
For some of these topics, you may be able to easily create content yourself based on your own knowledge. For many of them, you’ll have a stronger story if you make use of the knowledge of your local experts. In your case, that will most often be the doctors at the hospital, but may sometimes also include the nurses or people in administrative roles.
Getting a doctor’s input on the topic will likely be the trickiest part of managing a quick turnaround time. You can’t control how busy and responsive they are, but you can make sure you’re prepared to reach out to the best doctor for the story as quickly as possible when opportunity arises. Keep a spreadsheet of the doctors you can turn to and their particular specialties, so you can quickly pinpoint which one to get in touch with (and who the best backup is, if needed).
Many brands have learned the hard way that real-time marketing can quickly turn into foot-in-your-mouth marketing. Many of the topics that make the news are on subjects that are controversial, so you don’t want to find yourself espousing a view that contradicts what the hospital officially stands for. Your hospital probably already has some clear policies on this, but if there’s ever any question, take the extra step of asking before publishing.
You’ve found some great story items relevant to your audience, but you can’t just recycle what the media outlets are already saying. Why would people want to read the same thing on your website they’ve already seen on theirs? You need to find something new to add to the conversation. Here’s how:
The journalists writing for those media outlets love it when they can get an expert source to weigh in. You’re in the privileged position of having a set of experts you can turn to internally.
Think of all those click-bait articles you see reporting on how some food or health fad we thought was good for us is actually bad for us (or vice versa). There’s always new research that contradicts the old research, right up until there’s newer research that contradicts that. The result is people are left not knowing what to think. If there’s anyone they trust to weigh in on the subject, it’s doctors. Use that.
Not too personal of course—we’re not suggesting anything that could mean revealing private information. When there’s a big piece of healthcare news, particularly when it comes to healthcare legislation, people often have a hard time parsing what it means for them. If you can explain that news in a way that clarifies its significance for specific groups of people—seniors, moms, people without health insurance, people with a particular illness—you can make it more relevant and meaningful to the members of that audience.
If your hospital specializes in a particular type of care, your audience for this is clear. If not, you may benefit from creating several pieces of content on the same subject for all of your different personas. The Affordable Care Act has proven a rich topic for content like this and may continue to for a while to come. Any time you realize your patients are confused about something, jump in to address their specific concerns with your content.
Is there a big outbreak or health scare everyone’s talking about? Discuss the practical solutions.
The traditional media has a tendency to focus on driving up the panic levels related to any new outbreak. Make it your job to drive them back down with practical suggestions. Are you offering a vaccine? Can people decrease their risk by washing their hands more? Is the risk actually less than .1 percent and being overblown?
You (and your doctors) can be the voice of reason on any subject that’s causing patients anxiety.
Health is an issue most people think about every day of their lives. Even the most health conscious consumers who follow the news regularly and do lots of research can easily end up just as confused on a topic as they were before they started. You’re not going to have the answer to every healthcare question news items provoke in your audience, but you can bring clarity to many of them with well-developed content.