By Luke Smith
Healthcare and public relations interact much more often than you might think. We’ve seen more than enough evidence of this during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which PR has been tapped to send important public information, promote vaccination, and stem the tide of the virus.
But there’s plenty more long-term good a public relations expert can do in the field of healthcare. In fact, with carefully employed PR skills, you can be an advocate for a future of better healthcare outcomes.
Explore the PR skills that are changing the field of healthcare and see how they’re applied. A healthier future awaits.
The Role of PR Skills in Healthcare
PR in healthcare is important not just in terms of sales, products, and promotions. The outcomes go much deeper than all that. When it comes to healthcare, the work you do in public relations can make a real difference in your community. This is because applying your PR expertise can lead to enhanced understanding from the broader public, in turn opening up new solutions.
Here are the skills you need to hone for a successful career in healthcare PR:
PR is all about understanding people. Healthcare is much the same. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, we saw how variations in messaging affected different segments of the population, leading to broader acceptance of vaccines from some versus others. A PR pro can use insights from moments like these to craft a better understanding of their intended audiences and the messaging used to reach them.
By developing an understanding of people, a PR professional can help care providers make the most of their messaging through a direct connection with their patients. You’ll need empathy, however, and tools to help you measure public opinion.
These are examples of the skills you can hone to improve your understanding:
- Data analytics
- People management
Next, healthcare PR requires ample skill on the communication front. You’ll have to craft messages that appeal to diverse audiences with backgrounds that range from professionals in the healthcare field to the average citizen. This means working with visual, auditory, and textual media to produce a clear and impactful message.
As in healthcare marketing, many healthcare PR tools are going digital these days. Meet patients where they are by ensuring any content is easy to read and share online. Partner with marketing departments to use social channels — or create your own — to share information and milestones in patient care.
These are the skills to improve for better communication:
- Public speaking
- Nonverbal communication
- Visual communication
- Graphic design
Finally, a healthcare PR career will demand a strong ability to strategy innovative solutions to modern problems. This means working on a case-by-case basis, being agile with your approach to work, and being open to learning new tools and systems for creating ideal outcomes.
For public health professionals like emergency management specialists, there isn’t time to craft the perfect message. That job falls to the PR experts who are entrusted with managing situations with tact and deftness. PR provides a strategy for how and where to reach an audience—whether the intended message is access to a vaccine or availability of a new medication.
To make a difference in the healthcare community, you’ll need to be able to strategize at a moment’s notice. Here are the skills to practice:
- Management and administration
- Data systems and statistical modeling software
- Data science
- Deep learning applications
Advocating for a Healthier Future
PR professionals previously had to act on their gut intuition to create the kind of response they wanted from their messaging. These days we have data. The data can be one of the most powerful tools at a PR expert’s disposal when working with healthcare issues. However, it will require a background of understanding people and analytical systems to be able to apply statistical insights into better PR.
In the meantime, the implications for enhanced PR skills within healthcare are powerful. Often, health solutions fall through the cracks or are neglected due to a discriminatory lack of representation in leadership roles. PR professionals can help create a public discussion about problems while investing a company’s interests in people-based practices.
Take, for instance, the all-too-common issue of doctors failing to hear and acknowledge the pain of female patients. One study found that it took four years longer for female patients to receive a diagnosis than for male patients based on data that encompassed 770 different diseases. In the PR industry, you have the unique ability to highlight an issue like that and take a step towards a solution.
Consumers care about the moral implications tied up in their business. The same is true of healthcare services. By applying the understanding, communication, and strategic skillset of a PR pro to modern healthcare, we can point consumers to more ethical and effective solutions. In turn, care competitors have to improve, as well.
Whether the issue is diversity and inclusion or care outcomes, the future of healthcare can be better through PR that understands people. Hone your people-focused skills now to prepare for a more rewarding future in healthcare.
Photo Source: Pexels