The COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of business around the world. In the field of healthcare marketing, it created a unique and timely opportunity to expand and strengthen community reach.
Amy Stevens, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Tidelands Health, reinforces this sentiment.
“We weren’t just healthcare providers in the pandemic, we were ordinary people living this unprecedented time. There was an overload of information and misinformation. In the early days of the pandemic, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. Everything was scary, and the information was changing so rapidly it was hard to trust anything. I think that heightened the fear and the confusion among people. I know it did in our family. That’s why there was such an opportunity for health systems and hospitals to really step into that void and say, ‘We’re a trusted source for you,’ and produce content that was trusted, accurate, reliable, and most importantly, coming from somebody you know.”
The Local Port in the Pandemic Storm
When contradicting information was coming through conventional news sources, health systems had a chance to provide reassurance and trusted information to the community. People had questions, and the marketing team answered the call to foster engagement.
“It seems weird to think of it that way, doesn’t it? That the pandemic presented opportunities, but it absolutely did,” Stevens says. “I think we’ve all heard that old saying, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ And that’s what we did here. We said there’s value we can provide to our community and build value for our organization by stepping into that void that existed.”
As a trusted source when there were new developments during the pandemic, Tidelands Health strengthened engagement with the community. They provided plenty of content when people needed it most. “I mean, that’s what engagement is,” Stevens notes. “It’s saying, ‘I am providing something that matters and something that is of value to this customer and so the customer is choosing to engage with me.’ And I think that’s where the opportunity was and is.”
Maintaining the Audience Grown Through Goodwill
Community health systems cannot stop the momentum generated by pandemic content. Stevens advises, “We have established this relationship, this value, we’re engaged with our community now, but we don’t get to just rest on our laurels.”
Successful actions from the pandemic were listening to the community and providing the expertise to help reassure and educate them. Give your community what they need, just as you did during the height of COVID. Social media conversations and surveys provide insights on what’s important to your community right now. Pay attention to discussions people have with each other on your posts.
The drive is to reach people where they live and in a form they consume. Omnichannel content increases your reach. Think about how you can use blogs, podcasts, videos, and social media posts to engage your community.
Deploy Your Unique Assets
“Use your experts,” Stevens recommends. “The experts are the foundation of a content program. That’s our secret sauce. That’s what we have that nobody else can offer. We are the trusted local doctors, the trusted local nurses.”
Not every health system has an endless budget to create content, but Stevens urges to not let that stop your marketing department. “There are creative ways to establish a content strategy and to do that within the budget that you have to work with. You can find a way to ‘right size’ this for your organization and your community.”
“One of the things we like to say around here at Tidelands Health is quality is assumed,” she continues. “Just as people assume cars are going to drive and work appropriately, people assume healthcare and hospitals are going to take good care of them. That’s not where we differentiate ourselves. We differentiate ourselves on this, on providing value, providing something that’s relevant and meaningful to people and filling a gap in their lives.”
Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Tidelands Health
- To hear more from Amy Stevens via a preview of their presentation topic at this year’s SHSMD Connections conference, click here to listen to their recent SHSMD Rapid Insights podcast episode.
- Register soon for SHSMD Connections 2022 in-person conference this September in DC and attend this breakout session, “Content is King; Long Live the King: Driving Consumer Engagement Via a Digital Content Hub”.