Strengths and limitations of Public Relations in healthcare segment



When prudently deployed, Public Relations offers health and medical organizations opportunities to engage audiences in an efficient and highly credible manner. Courtesy of its unique properties, public relations capably can complement other marketing communications, operating synergistically to help healthcare institutions achieve their conveyance goals, fostering exchange and bolstering market share. Knowing downside and upside of this component of marketing communication mix can help drive things effectively.


1. Strength


Cost efficiency


Deploying public relations as a marketing communications instrument is perhaps motivated most intensely by its cost efficiency. As it relies on unpaid use of mass media, healthcare organizations are not burdened with cost associated with buying air time, space, or any other associated media expenditure. The newsworthy nature of public relations conveyances effectively gives news media firms the ability to grant these presentations free of charge. Depending on the media source and the size of its audience, such allotments can be extremely expensive, representing a major cost savings for healthcare institutions which successfully secure coverage through public relations.


Of course in many context, public relations is not exactly free, as the activities and events which make items newsworthy (eg: free medical screening, presentations of medical experts) carry costs. However, without coinciding with mass media expenditures, the cost factor is diminished considerably.


High credibility


Since public relations announcements successfully accepted publication by news media organizations are ultimately conveyed as news, audience naturally view them to be highly credible, with the given stories elevated by the reputation of the entities who present news. Many people doubt commercial conveyances such as advertising and direct mail, as they are funded by promoting parties. However, when activities, events, accomplishments, and the like are presented by news media firms, skepticism diminishes, positively influencing audience receptivity and potentially generating greater attention and awareness than that afforded by paid marketing communications applications.


Narrative guidance


Public relations is especially effective at guiding health services organizations in developing and advancing narratives which present efforts benefitting the given communities. In order to attract and secure media coverage as newsworthy occurrences, submissions must indeed supply information that is of interest and benefit to audience members. Simply presenting an advertisement as a news story is unacceptable and almost certainly will result in an automatic rejection by news media outlets. This newsworthy mandate forces healthcare providers to view their activities and accomplishments from the perspective of stakeholders in the marketplace, notably ascertaining how the item or items supplied in accounts will positively impact individuals and communities.


2. Limitation


Transmission uncertainty


Healthcare establishments considering public relations must always remember that the particular communications route offers no guarantees that events, activities, and other stories desired for conveyance will actually reach audiences, have no control over when or even if the information they supply will be transmitted to audiences. This lack of reliability quite obviously requires public relations to be treated in a particular manner, engaging in its pursuit while placing reliance on other components of the marketing communications mix to ensure circulation of information to desired groups.


Beyond such a strategy, health services organizations can and should seek to build relationships with given news media organizations. Very often, in developing stories, reporters will contact healthcare institutions, seeking feedback from medical experts. When requests can be accommodated, they can help build bridges of communication with news media firms and this, in turn, can be helpful in realizing greater attentiveness to submitted press releases. This is where a formal public relations office can prove to be a valuable asset, serving as the communications liaison between the establishment and external entities seeking information on any number of topics or concerns.


Content presentation uncertainty


Even if press releases are accepted for publication, the manner of presentation selected by given news media firms may not be as desired, as editorial control depends on the presenting organizations.


Occasionally, press releases are conveyed exactly as submitted, but typically modifications of some sort will be effected. These modifications often entail minor alterations (e.g., content reductions), but occasionally they can be quite extensive, so in some cases, meaning is actually distorted. Overcoming this challenge is difficult, but it can be minimized by studying the stories presented by targeted news outlets, ensuring that efforts are made to provide content in submitted press releases which conforms with the style and presentation observed.


Return on investment uncertainty


Events, activities which rely solely on public relations are risky, as failed coverage can harm return on investment.


Assume that a health services provider invites a nationally-recognized expert on cardiovascular health to speak at an event open to the public which details the latest insights on heart health and wellness. Assume also that the event is held to (1) educate the public on heart care and (2) drive business to the institution’s cardiovascular unit. If public relations efforts (assuming their use in isolation) fail to secure media coverage (which is a very real possibility), audience size very likely will be reduced due to lack of awareness of the event. A diminished audience naturally will yield a diminished potential for the institution to witness an acceptable return on investment as admission and referral opportunities will be lessened.


This particular concern, of course, can be moderated by deploying tandem communications alongside public relations efforts.


By: VSHR Digital Media

Source: NCBI, Sept 2020