Healthcare media is fast-moving and noisy given Covid. With an increasing amount of breaking news, it’s becoming harder for organizations to navigate when it’s appropriate to insert their voices into a national discussion.
We highly recommend that you start from a place of authenticity instead of trying to capitalize on someone else’s bad news or a tragedy. Here are some tips to help inform your rapid response approach:
Before rushing to comment, think critically about the event or issue. Make sure you have a solid understanding of the nuances and be crystal clear on the audience you want to reach. For instance, in healthcare, are you speaking to care providers? Clinicians? Or patients? Think through why you have the authority to publicly comment – and most importantly, think about how your message will be perceived. Even if you are entering a conversation with the best intentions, your words and motivation can get misinterpreted easily.
Avoid chiming into the conversation to appear timely, but rather use the opportunity to offer meaningful perspective as a connected thought leader on the subject. This is even more important when you’re reacting to breaking political news and/or new healthcare-related policy. For example, Inkhouse client and mental healthcare company Brightline published a blog post, authored by its CEO and Chief Medical Officer, pointing to which areas of pediatric behavioral healthcare need more attention, in reaction to Biden’s announcement for increased national funding for pediatric behavioral health initiatives.
Think critically about who your statement is coming from and/or who you’re offering a conversation with to the media. Your spokesperson should be an expert on the topic. For example, Brightline recently released a statement from its CEO in response to Biden’s State of the Union, including a national plan to combat the growing mental health crisis among youth.
Lead thoughtful conversations internally about what you’re contributing to the conversation and why you’ve chosen to do so. Does it make sense for you to add your perspective? What are you bringing to the conversation? Are your key audiences being affected by this event/topic? A few months ago when children became eligible to receive Covid vaccines, Brightline’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Peter Antall offered his perspective on Bloomberg Radio about the impact that vaccinations can have on children, and what to expect from a mental health perspective as availability became more widespread. In this way, Brightline and Dr. Antall provided a unique, medical perspective on a conversation that was, at the time, both sensitive and entirely top of mind for parents – one of their key audiences. Always lead with facts and don't newsjack just for a PR moment – it could come back to sting you.
When engaging with media, ensure that your spokesperson is armed with short, digestible quotes that are easy for journalists to pull from. This approach has a higher probability of the reporter including a soundbite or quote in their story.
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