Brand Journalism: The New Model for Healthcare Public Relations – Part 1

1347725_72659105If you are a journalist looking for new opportunities, check out the healthcare industry. And, if you are managing a healthcare marketing and public relations department, you should think about having a journalist on board, if you don’t already. Why? Because healthcare public relations needs to evolve to a brand journalism model in order to maximize the opportunity to connect with an audience searching for  information that’s local, fresh and relevant to them.

Twenty years ago we could count on the local media to carry our story for us. Not today. The makeup of local news has changed. To begin with, there are fewer local news reporters in television and print to cover the news. According to the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013 report, the newspaper industry has seen a 30 percent decline in newsroom staff over the past decade. Local television viewership continues to decline, although online usage is up which bodes well for TV’s ability to capture younger audiences. Still, local TV devotes more time to breaking news, weather, traffic and sports than enterprise or feature stories, where most health stories reside.

At the same time, there are growing ranks of non-traditional reporters and news services. Here at PadillaCRT, the media lists we create for clients increasingly include as many emerging news sources such as Kaiser Health News, and bloggers and online media, as it does traditional media. The sources are tapping into brand journalism sites in search of great content to share with their audiences.

1115760_32142631One might think the change in news media habits indicates a lack of interest from the public. On the contrary, people are consuming news more frequently thanks to mobile devices. In fact, according to the Pew study, accessing news is one of the most popular uses of mobile and tablet devices. Consumers are not only adding to the amount of news they are consuming, they are also spending more time with news. This makes the environment ripe for brand journalism.

Brand journalism is just what you might think from the name. Its news and information about your brand – your hospital, your doctors, key service lines and programs, awards and distinctions, your employees and your community. The difference with brand journalism from traditional public relations is that it truly follows the principles of journalism.

Brand journalism is interesting stories, not press releases. It’s custom content, such as videos and thought leadership posts, not commercials. It’s using research and data to provide insights and shared visually through infographics. A brand journalist produces unbiased feature stories that are balanced and void of marketing speak. Most of all, brand journalism is timely, relevant and authentic.

With brand journalism, your healthcare organization becomes its own news generator of interesting, shareable content that is newsworthy and news making. In my next post, I’ll talk about how to evolve to a brand journalist model for your organization. Have you implanted a brand journalism approach? If so, what successes or challenges have you experienced? Please share in the comments!

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