Choose Your Audience Wisely When Managing Healthcare Public Relations |

Choosing your primary audience when designing a public relations campaign is usually a straight-forward decision. However, when developing the public relations campaign for a hospital or similar patient-focused healthcare provider, you face a tricky decision when determining who you want to inform and influence.Should you focus on the particular portion of the population your healthcare organization serves as patients? Or should you focus on the galaxy of physicians who send people to your institution for medical tests and who rely on your facilities to treat their patients?Based on my experience in developing and directing healthcare public relations programs for hospitals and other large medical practices and institutions, I will plant my feet firmly on both sides of the argument.Your course of action depends upon the ultimate goal of your public relations campaign and how you answer these two questions:* Do you want to increase and strengthen your institution’s bottom line?* Do you want to increase and strengthen your institution’s stature and reputation in your community as a primary healthcare and social resource?You may want to answer “yes” to both questions. But unless you have unlimited funds, you must determine how much to spend on reinforcing your institution’s bottom line and how much should go toward strengthening its reputation as an outstanding healthcare resource in the eyes of the general public.Why should you aim a hospital’s public relations initiatives only at doctors?Hospitals and other healthcare institutions that want to appeal to and serve more patients must maintain a tight focus on attracting and serving doctors. Doctors are the driving force behind patients’ use of specific hospitals.When hospitals ask their patients, “Why did you choose this hospital?” Most will answer, “Because this is where my doctor sent me.”Patents trust their doctors so they follow their advice.Other than in an emergency or when an institution is renowned for its expertise in a particular illness or specialty, patients don’t show up or make an appointment at a hospital for a test or treatment unless their primary physician or specialist directed them to do so.Hospitals should conduct very active and focused physician relations programs that keep doctors well informed regarding the hospital’s services, facilities and treatment capabilities.Increasing the number of doctors associated with your hospital will result in more patients than will publicizing the institution’s facilities, services or capabilities to a broad, general audience.Why should you aim a hospital’s public relations initiatives at the general public?Public relations campaigns directed at the general public strengthen a hospital’s overall reputation as a high quality institution; an institution that benefits patients with leading edge services, compassionate care and advanced medical technology.Such campaigns establish and reinforce the hospital’s reputation as a vital community resource.They comfort and pre-sell prospective patients when their doctor tells them to go to a particular hospital for tests or treatment. They eliminate the need for a doctor to explain why she/he uses a certain hospital when providing treatment.And they reinforce your physician-relations campaign by reassuring doctors that they made the right decision when choosing your hospital to treat their patients and connect their name and professional reputation.

The Culture of Public Relations – An Introduction |

The culture of public relations is not only based on a gratifying and inspirational aesthetic but it also, and get this, contributes in a positive way to society and provides a working milieu that is inspiring to be part of.There are a wide range of reasons for this, but here are my ‘top ten’. Hopefully, you’ll think my passion for the professional discipline of public relations is justified after you read this. You might even get the urge to add your own reasons for being a fan of the profession.Helping society
One of the most important strategic elements of public relations is identifying organisational stakeholder needs and wants. The PR pro then informs the organisation of stakeholder positions and helps the organisation evolve the way it operates so it is more closely aligned with stakeholders.When this paradigm is applied, it means that organisations become more embedded into society in a socialised sense, making people, in theory, more satisfied and happy.In essence, the public relations professional is the conscience of an organisation.Creativity = fun
Being creative is huge amounts of fun. There are many examples of how PR is a discipline which both survives on, and is driven by, creativity:
o Insane stunts like hundreds of people doing yoga on a beach or stripping off their jeans when identified as a ‘stooge’ in the streets and handing said jeans over
o Creating strategic alliances with other organisations to help increase organisational/product/service awareness
o Generating innovative topics for use in media, speaking and social media ‘outreach’ programs (e.g. the Telstra Productivity Indicator and Citrix Online’s Shrinking Holiday Syndrome).Innovation and education
Public relations, just like business and society which it serves, is changing all the time.New ideas are needed to help create POD and thought leadership for organisations. Additionally, society and business is not getting any simpler, so the intellect of public relations as a putative whole needs to continually keep one step ahead to deliver results.Inherent within this is the need to continually learn and improve. Education is at the heart of this. Without it, you may not be dead in the water from a career perspective but, believe me, you ain’t going anywhere fast.Playing in the sandbox
There are a plethora of tactics in the PR sandbox (sorry, I meant toolbox) you can play with. Some of them are:
o Media
o Sponsorship
o Events
o Publications
o Social media/online
o Speaking program
o Issues and crisis management
o Government relations/lobbying.This diversity of vocational activity helps make life interesting.Remuneration
It seems to me that public relations is one of the better earners in western society. This isn’t the actual ‘bottom line’ from my perspective. The bottom line is a complex, multi-layered thing. But, hey, it doesn’t hurt!Leadership
Inherent within strategic public relations is challenging the status quo. That might be a status quo as characterised by an organisation or its stakeholders.We are seeking change.Change requires those who are instigating it and representing it to stand up in a considerably large way. That takes fortitude, it takes vision and it takes leadership.Nice people!
PR is a people profession. We are under the ‘people spotlight’ all the time. It is expected of us to be emotionally functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) human beings. Add to this equation that the most effective and persuasive form of communication is face-to-face (i.e. people interacting in real life as opposed to virtual life).Nasty people don’t do face-to-face well. Upshot: exit PR.Public relations, is, at the end of the day, a civilised profession in which to work. And one of its roles is, inherently, to enhance the civility of all those it counsels and works with.Power of the people
PR pros get to interact with a wider range of people than many other professions do. This is because we:
o utilise a range of service providers and interact with different sorts of PR and marketing pros who specialise in different tactical areas, such as events and writing and advertising
o interact with those in all areas of an organisation: from the C-suite to the mechanics and nightclub security; from engineers to accountants.Collaboration and teams
This works two ways:
o On a strategic level, public relations encourages various parties (e.g. an organisation and its stakeholders) to collaborate to invent/devise/formulate a win-win outcome for these parties
o On a more day-to-day level, we are all operating in some sort of team environment where we collaborate with colleagues, associates or clients.Social media
Okay, now this is a little different as I am picking on a specific public relations tactic. The reason for this is that, more than any other single tactic, I think social media has the potential to help achieve the holy grail of two-way symmetrical communication.And two-way symmetrical communication is the primary cause of my passion for public relations. I am well aware that I cannot achieve it in every communication program I design and/or which I am involved, but it provides a deeply satisfying model for me to apply and/or aspire to applying: professionally, personally, socially – a tripartite hybrid which suffuses and characterises my personality, in fact.It is helping create a new society, or at the very least the paradigm for a new society. One where my dreams of greater social equity, greater organisational transparency and sincerity…and greater fulfilment for all of us will occur.

Role of the Public Relation Firm |

Before you get the answer for the above let us understand what the Public relation means. It is a method and an art or science of establishing and promoting favorable relations with the public. That’s why it’s called public relation. Therefore the main function of the this firm is to build relations between the organization and its public or people involved in order to achieve the organizational goals.It also is the job of this firm to build a desirable image of a person or a group seeking public attention. It’s a way of communicating that helps the person or group to gain public understanding and acceptance. Its primary focus is to resolve or deal with any issues of the person or group rather than the product or service of the person or group.The goal of this relation firm uses publicity to gain good will rather than sales. It is a form of advertising the person or group to show that the organization goals are aimed to achieve the best for its public involved. Commonly used tools of public relations include news releases, press conferences, speaking engagements, and community service programs.The closest experience you would have had with public relation firm is the Human resource department (formally known as the HR department) in your own company. Their main job is to provide the organization with people who are productive and an asset to the organization and maintain the relation between the organization and employee. The relation between the employee and organization is maintained through communication. Further they are involved in motivating the employees and retain them in the organization by initiating various incentives and bonuses form the organization, in turn helping the organization have happy people who work for them and know they work for a good organization that cares for its employees need. Indirectly the HR department creates a good will for the organization in the market through its employees.In the present market as communication plays an important role in the growth of an individual or organization (group) the public relation firms come into play and are the vital requirement to build the relations. They use their communication skills and techniques to build and manage relations and keep an open dialogue between an organization or individuals audiences those who influence them.

Marketing and Public Relations – Working Together |

Marketing Public Relations: Marketing and public relations are both used to “promote” a person or a business. They go hand in hand. The key is to reach the target audience, people that are likely to be interested. Constant research is needed to keep up with the latest demographic info. Marketing managers work closely with public relations specialists to help a business reach the public.The marketing department handles monetary matters. They will handle matters such as advertisements. Advertising costs money. The marketing department plans on how the ad dollars will be spent. Through strategic planning and ongoing meetings with other parties that are involved, decisions are made and the public relations may or may not be involved in such decision making.If you are a company that would like to promote special offers, it is important that the public is aware. Nobody is going to know about it to give you business if they do not know about it. Through marketing, dollars will be spent in areas such as print advertisements. You might want to invest in banners or the local newspaper. The marketing managers will help find the best venue for you.The public relations department keeps in touch with the public. Your company’s public image will be created through them. They can make or break you. If you are a new owner of a restaurant that just opened in town, consider hiring a PR specialist to find ways to gain “publicity”. Together with their marketing team, they will find the best solution for you.They will be constantly doing research to keep up with the latest info on everything. It is extremely important to be knowledgeable on every aspect. Know the competition, know who the target audience is, know the latest trends, etc. Together, the marketing team and public relations department will work together to promote and publicize your business. And let’s not forget how important marketing and publicity is for reaching the target demographic.Marketing managers and PR specialists usually find work in dealing with newspapers, magazines, radio, television, etc. They may deal with the press, making public speeches, so good communication skills are very important. It is equally important in working with each other to exchange all the vital info to successfully help promote your business.If you are working for a local sports magazine in the marketing department, you will often times, be working side by side with a public relations specialist. If you have clients that would like to go into a professional sport, “publicity” is important. The PR people handle the publicity part. Your job will be to handle how the dollars will be spent in the promoting process.

Public Relations As a Management Tool |

Public relations (PR) is an often misunderstood and under-valued management tool. To many it is seen as just another form of advertising while others dismiss PR as dealing with journalists and sending out press releases. In fact, PR can play a central role in the achievement of specific objectives at all levels of an organisation’s work by focusing, reinforcing and communicating an effective message.Used properly, public relations is an excellent and cost effective method of improving the image of an individual, organisation or product. It is about ensuring that your audience (customer) receives and accepts the message you wish to project.Public relations involves many other disciplines and it can have an impact on every aspect of an organisation. It is about projecting the right message and as such, it can involve press relations, advertising, marketing, sponsorship, exhibitions, local community events, the environment and public affairs.Communication is the key to public relations – communicating the right message to the public, employees, shareholders and other specific target audiences.PR defined – The Institute of Public Relations defines public relations as “the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain good will and mutual understanding between an organisation and its customers.”Why use PR?A company can survive without PR, but with a planned PR programme the company can expect better results and an enhanced reputation.Obviously no amount of good relations can hide a bad product or protect an unethical company. For public relations to succeed the organisation must be credible. PR alone cannot cure a terminally sick organisation. What it can do is help to promote a positive corporate reputation and to minimise the damage that occurs when something does go wrong.A good corporate reputation can be likened to a healthy bank balance. The better the reputation, the more ‘reputation credit’ you have with your stakeholders and if people think well of you, it makes it easier for you to do what you want – even if that means changing working practices or increasing your prices. In addition, when things go wrong the more credit you have in your reputation bank the better you will weather the storm (provided the issue is properly managed). But if you have no credit at all, there is only one way to go.
What happens if you don’t use PR?No matter how good you are, if you don’t communicate with your public, you won’t put your message across. You will lose out to your rivals who are using public relations more aggressively to ensure effective communication.It is not possible to abdicate from a public image. If you are not managing the information by which people form their opinions, their view of your company will be based solely on what they hear from other (uncontrolled) sources. In short, if you do not manage your reputation, others will do it for you.You cannot quantify what you lose if you don’t use PR, but companies that do use it can see the benefits in increased awareness of themselves and their products. Companies feel effective PR working for them in many ways:o Better staff recruitment and retention
o Greater market share
o Customer recognition and loyalty
o Motivated sales force
o Shareholder satisfactionIn other words a structured PR programme helps a company operate more successfully on all levels of business. Cultivating a good public relations image is worthwhile and having a bad image or even no image at all in the eyes of your market can have disastrous consequences.In order to operate more effectively and efficiently an organisation needs to recognise and meet the needs of all its customers – some more obvious than others.This means:o Identifying all potential customers
o Identifying and responding to their needs
o Communicating with themResponding to your customers’ needso What do your customers want from you?
o What do you provide that your rivals don’t?
o What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
o Is your market aware of your company’s USP’s?Communicating with your customerso How do your existing customers hear about new developments, projects and contracts?
o How do potential customers hear about your organisation?
o Are you quoted in the press, more or less frequently than your competitors?
o Do you monitor your communication material to ensure that it is relevant and effective?
o What do your employees think of your company?
o Is your belief in the organisation the same as your public image?The process of reviewing communication in an organisation is often referred to as a “communications audit”.Some PR facts:o PR is about presenting a positive image
o PR is about managing reputations
o Customers take notice (and are willing to believe) a news story in a magazine
o What someone else says about you is at least ten times more believable than what you say about yourself
o Used properly and to complement other parts of an organisation’s activities, PR canactually save money!Why should you use PR?Use PR because:o It creates a good image
o It makes people more keen to do business with you
o It improves your standing in your own market
o It makes it easier to attract, and retain, a high calibre of workforce
o It puts you in the media when you want to be there
o It allows you to control the message
o It allows you to create the image you wish for your company
o It gives you ‘licence’ to change your working practices – increase costs etc,
o It can help to minimise the damage when things go wrongHow important is corporate identity?The answer is very. A strong, positive corporate identity can enhance your company across all its operations, while a poor or negative identity will be equally effective in weakening your reputation. A good image can take years to build, but it can be quickly tarnished by negative publicity. Great care, and effort, is needed to foster and protect an organisation’s reputation.A strong corporate identity results in people trusting in the value of you and your products and/or services. They are happy to deal with you and give you their custom. They will come back to you time and time again if you gain their loyalty. Your reputation is enhanced and this in turn helps to reinforce your corporate identity.”The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation; that away men are but gilded loam or painted clay” – Shakespeare, Richard II

What is Strategic Public Relations and Why Do You Need It? |

Many business people are still under the impression that the primary objective of public relations is to generate free advertising by pumping out lots of press releases.Any good PR professional will tell you that this concept is false and wrongheaded for two main reasons:* PR is not free and it never was free. A company must pay someone or some agency a substantial salary or fee to develop and execute an effective public relations program.* PR is not and never was advertising.Perhaps creating a press release and having the media pick it up can be misconstrued as free advertising — especially if you score a few column inches in a reputable newspaper or trade publication.How about that: you received a mention about the size of a small advertisement in your local paper. But it wasn’t free and it isn’t advertising.And it’s important to point out, when it comes to strategic PR, that generating press releases and having them picked up by the media is one of the low-ball elements of an effective PR program.The strategic objective of an effective PR program is to manage your many different publics’ awareness and opinion of your organization and its management team.PR is a focused effort to gain and maintain positive, continuing relationships with the individuals and institutions that influence your organization’s specific sphere of existence.Press releases are the least convincing element in this overall effort. Your customers and other publics know you generated the releases and did your best to convince the media to publish the information they contain.Public Relations’ Primary ObjectiveThe primary objective of a solid, effective PR program is to positively influence your many publics — your markets, legislators, analysts, reporters, editors and many others. You want to cause them to maintain a positive impression of your organization and to follow its activities.To accomplish this goal you must* Cultivate positive relationships with your public.* Make sure the “news” about your organization that you are generating is really interesting news that’s worth covering.* Make sure your organization’s actions will generate positive responses from your public.What you should look for in an effective public relations agency and in your company’s in-house PR professional * A strategic public relations firm focuses on controlling your positive reputation as seen by your many public.* An effective public relations firm focuses on developing your organization as the one your public want to watch.* You want your PR firm to position your organization with your public — including the press and analysts and your markets — as a company to watch, work with and buy from. And when they do follow you, work with you and buy from you, they’ll find an organization that’s interesting, ethical, solid and valuable.And that’s how they’ll think about you and talk about you.And that’s what strategic public relations is all about.

Public Relations Defined |

The definition of public relations frequently depends upon who is using the term. For agencies and practitioners, it is a respected profession and management function. For its detractors, PR is a means for applying a gloss or otherwise polishing something that is otherwise objectionable.PR is frequently interchanged incorrectly with terms such as “spin” and “publicity.” And the recently popular term “marketing public relations” adds to the confusion.Here are three widely accepted definitions o From the textbook Effective Public Relations authored by Scott Cutlip, Allen Center and Glen Broom: Public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.o From PR News: Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and then plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.o From the PR Society of America (PRSA): PR helps an organization and its publics to adapt mutually to each other. The term “publics” recognizes the need to understand the attitudes and values of and to develop effective relationships with many different stakeholders such as employees, members, customers, local communities, shareholders other institutions and society at largeThe common factor in these definitions is the two-way nature of the relationship. PR calls for equal amounts of listening as well as talking.Furthermore, as a management function it includes:o Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact an organization’s operations and plans positively or negatively.o Counseling management regarding policy decisions, courses of action and communications with an eye toward public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.o Continually researching, conducting and evaluating programs designed to achieve the public’s informed understanding of an organization’s aims.o Planning and implementing an organization’s efforts to influence public policy. Specifically: establishing objectives, budgeting, recruiting and training staff and developing facilities — essentially the management of all resources necessary to achieve an organizations PR objectives.The primary quality of PR is that it is based on a reciprocal relationship — a two-way street — between an organization and its many publics.If you are not talking and listening to your publics and responding accordingly to the benefit of both, you are not practicing public relations.

Top Reasons to Hire a Boutique Public Relations Specialist |

What is a boutique public relations specialist? He or she is someone who specializes in conceptualizing and implementing public relations campaigns, and develops good relationships with key editors and reporters on behalf of their clients.PR campaigns, when conceived and implemented properly, have been proven to work wonders for companies or brands. A publicity campaign, with a combination of tactics including the placement of feature stories, exciting media events and media interviews with key press, can absolutely create the buzz that your brand or company needs. If this isn’t enough below are other compelling reasons why you need a boutique public relations agency:In this day and age, PR is the way to go. Compared to advertising, public relations activities like press releases and interviews with media, can creatively tell a story and capture the attention of your target market. Details that matter to a consumer can easily be inserted or woven into the story. Consumers are now more discerning when it comes to their purchases; they need good reasons why to make a purchase or why support a campaign.Social Media Is Gaining In PopularityThe tremendous popularity of blog sites has established social media as a viable medium for disseminating information. Social media uses the internet and other web-based technologies to transform media monologues into social media dialogues, where everyone gets to contribute their 2-cents worth. It supports the democratization of knowledge and information – transforming people from just being content consumers into content producers. With the wide pool of contacts of boutique public relations specialists, your company will be able to feel and experience the full power of social media or media 2.0.Media Connections MatterHaving a relationship with key members of the media – both traditional and online is very important when implementing a PR campaign. Boutique PR specialists can properly identify and arrange meetings, lunches or interviews with the appropriate media contacts. Whether it’s discussing a new beauty product with a lifestyle editor over lunch or inviting entertainment writers to a press conference to launch the company’s latest endorsers or brand ambassadors, keeping one’s company visible, and top of mind with editors goes a long way.A Boutique Public Relations Specialist Knows PR BestA boutique PR firm is a full-service agency that is usually comprised of a small close-knit group of individuals focused on and dedicated to coming up with unique and one of a kind ideas and executions that fulfill the objectives of the company. Unlike pr specialists from pr departments within larger, multinational advertising agencies, boutique public relations specialists are more focused. Being part of a small group dealing mainly with public relations, the company is ensured of personalized client servicing from the specialist.Launching A Successful PR CampaignThe most important thing to be able to pull of a successful PR campaign is to get a trustworthy and reputable partner – a specialist, someone who will be with you all throughout the campaign – from brainstorming and conceptualization to implementation and post-publicity.