Toward a Best Informed Community™: Enabling confidence and trust.
Consumer confidence and trust in a hospital or healthcare system is the backbone of the brand. The need to engage and motivate the community, including its key stakeholders, makes effective public and marketing communications an absolute strategic imperative. Moreover, it’s not just what you tell the community you are; it’s what you show them you are—or more accurately, it’s whom they know you to be.
Best Informed Community™ is an approach grounded in the reality that strong community relationships enable mission fulfillment and that word of mouth remains a very significant driver in how people make their healthcare decisions. Best Informed Community™ seeks to help the community (as a whole and as individuals) understand your mission, engage your vision and trust in your capabilities. It lets them see evidence of your value in outcomes, and it lets them know how to access care.
While leveraging traditional media with your brand message, it is also important to reach out into the community and create affinity with community leaders and decision makers as well as the community at large. Complementing marketing communications—and in many instances, driving it—is a proactive outreach strategy. Because healthcare is on the public mind, finding creative ways to create dialog with them and tell the brand story is the objective. Whether in the form of health fairs, screenings, lunch-and-learns or public education seminars—in fact, whatever the vehicle—the organization that delivers responsive and proactive information on community health issues will have a great competitive advantage in the community.
Best Informed Community™ is how you create engaged communities. Best Informed Community™ also acknowledges that the care cycle represents an often-overlooked opportunity to communicate your story and engage patients as advocates helping to build lasting relationships, one at a time.
Where to begin? Once again, there is no room for a bull in the china closet. Our experience is that the best strategy is to start close to the vest initially. While you focus on creating a longer-term strategy, it is important to engage the events and activities that are part of your organization’s tradition. Simultaneously, in the very near-term, focus on engaging the outreach promotion of your banner services and beginning to create the mind bridge to your primary care services.
Community. Make this your evidence showpiece. Use it to define the brand and the depth and breadth of your vision. Then, take it to the community as a road show for civic groups, population clusters, key community stakeholders—the broad range of people and groups constituent to both the organization and a Best Informed Community™.
Consider establishing an informal community board of advisors—an assembly of key community leaders whom you can develop into brand evangelists and vision missionaries. Choose people whose impact and influence on the community are significant, and you will not only take important steps toward engaging a Best Informed Community™, but you’ll also build a hotline to key influencers that is very useful in your Foundation’s work as well.
Across all constituencies, because people are over loaded with information today, it’s important to determine and prioritize what outcomes are desired; then, in order to realize those outcomes, what strategic information each stakeholder group wants to know, what they need to know, what is expected or desired of them, and finally how best to deliver that information to them efficiently, consistently and effectively. Best Informed Community™ acknowledges and respects the concerns and wants of stakeholders at all stages of engagement and creates meaningful dialog—opportunities driven by strategic communication—at key touch points.
In each case, it is important to examine and be responsive to the community’s needs at that specific touch point. Applying strategic communications against these touch points can remarkably improve community engagement and brand preference. That thinking and opinion, that definition of, and delivery on, Best Informed Community™, shapes our approach to brand development, communications planning and marketing communications execution for all of our healthcare clients.
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