Brand Journalism: Health Providers Embracing New Storytelling Strategy

The movement toward brand journalism offers special benefits to the health industry. Healthcare affects everyone’s life, so audiences naturally relate to timely news and information about topics like medical advances, patient treatments and personal health advice. Equally compelling are the human-interest stories that abound in the healthcare field.

Such high-interest content makes brand journalism sites a no-brainer for many healthcare providers.

In fact, several top healthcare organizations have implemented this storytelling tool and are seeing success. For those considering adopting this approach, we’ve shared a few examples of providers who are setting the standard.

Advocate Health Care health enews

Advocate Health Care, a hospital group in the Chicago suburbs, launched health enews a year ago to increase mindshare among local journalists and consumers.  An in-house newsroom of six core communicators develops content for the site, including videos, feature stories and commentary on breaking health news.

Advocate Health 2 (3)While the site’s intent is to build awareness of Advocate’s services and expertise, some of the most captivating articles are personal stories told by people within the organization.

For example, Tim Nelson, an Advocate public affairs manager, shared his experience helping his younger brother recover from a massive stroke. His touching story could happen to anyone and creates an instant connection with readers. Injecting real-life situations into branded content – when employees feel comfortable sharing them – creates an emotional connection between the audience and the organization. The stories also help solidify the hospital system’s credibility as a source of health information.

Another element that adds credibility to Advocate’s brand content is its adherence to journalistic style and tone. A prime example: The news team set out to feature a home health nurse who serves patients in Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods with an armed police escort. The story and photo vividly portrayed the nurse’s daily challenges – without including a pitch for her employer. The article, posted to health enews, caught the attention of CNN producer Stephanie Smith. She wrote an original piece for and scheduled a ride-along news segment with medical reporter Sanjay Gupta.

Advocate Health 3 (3)

Mayo Clinic News Network

As one of the most admired and prestigious health providers in the world, it’s no surprise that Mayo Clinic is at the forefront of the brand journalism trend. The Mayo Clinic News Network team – comprised of public affairs, media relations and broadcast professionals – develop content tailored for journalists.

Media specialists cover specific Mayo health “beats,” from cardiac care to pediatrics to oncology, and proactively report the stories, as well as respond to triaged media requests.

The site is open to the public, but subscribing reporters can access embargoed media materials, and download or embed multimedia content, including sound bites, b-roll and fully edited reporter packages.

The Mayo team also employs Sprinklr, a social media management tool, to disseminate content across multiple social channels. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ drive additional traffic to the News Network site and increase consumer engagement.

Cleveland Clinic’s HealthHub and University of Utah Health Care’s HealthFeed are other models of success.

Creating a brand journalism site can be a major undertaking. But these organizations are paving the way and proving the value of the investment. For guidance on how to get started, look for Part 2 of Debbie Myers’ brand journalism BuzzBin series.

Have you created a brand journalism site before? Any tips on getting started or any favorite brand journalism examples to share? Let us know in the comments!

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