Five Ins and Outs To Consider In Your 2024 Health Earned Media Strategy
January 19, 2024
From personalized medicine to the way we talk about—and reimburse—therapies to the move to support patient advocacy, there have been incredible strides in the health industry to put people first. In 2024, we are already seeing increased momentum to create a more patient-focused environment.
Health communications has been a critical component of this shift. Putting people first isn’t a new concept for communicators, who have always been driven by personal connections with journalists and make use of smart, strategic narratives that better reach audiences and cut through the noise in the information marketplace. Our goal is to educate, inform and, ultimately, contribute to better outcomes for patients.
As we start another year, global colleagues from FINN Partners offices across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and North America came together for our annual Health Media Summit to discuss how we can better build relationships with media, understand new technologies on the horizon and how they complement our practices, and to discuss what is “in” and what is “out” for better PR practices that support people-focused communications efforts in 2024.
Across the globe, there are several tried-and-true practices to incorporate in earned media strategies for health this year, and beyond:
Let’s put AI in proper perspective
AI is a supporting tool, not a replacement, for human skills, but human intervention and guidance is key. In 2024, let’s use AI as a sounding board, an idea generator and a proofer. Let’s not use a tool like ChatGPT as a crutch. As PR communicators, we need to understand the function and capabilities of the technology so we can responsibly include it in our professional toolkit. Make sure that your use of AI is in line with your company’s policy on it; and if your company doesn’t have a policy, you may need to collaborate on creating one. Ensure your spokesperson’s emailed interview questions are authentically written by them, and not generated by AI. Check AI-assisted content for accuracy and ensure its originality. We have much to gain from AI if we use it as the smart, strategic asset that it has the potential to be. People want to hear from people, not robots, so ensure your communications are not all AI.
Never before has it been so important to realize your communications’ impact on a global level. Public health is a worldwide topic, and patients worldwide have specific needs and interests. From collaborating on research to sharing incredible medical breakthroughs, global connections are happening all around us. Our communications must reflect that reality. Be thoughtful of storytelling internationally: take time to learn regional preferences, audience idiosyncrasies and country-specific publication rules. Be mindful to include the right international outlets in your targeted media lists, and be strategic about building relationships with foreign correspondents at your stateside top-tier outlets that are read by the people you want to reach. Be planned with patient stories that have a common thread and connection to the global or local publications you are pitching.
Make use of PESO
The PESO (Paid Earned Social Owned) method is a reliable, smart strategy for PR pros. For your earned efforts, don’t be afraid to add-on complementary paid tactics like satellite media tours (SMTs) or mat releases to highlight patient stories and company narratives. Making full use of social media has become as much standard practice as earned media, but be creative in your messaging and targeting to increase appeal to consumers. Owned remains a critical channel for pushing out company news, sharing patient testimonials and creating resources for the media.
One-way media relationships
We all know the importance of building relationships with your top journalists, but what often gets lost is the importance of maintaining those relationships as a two-way dialogue. Study up on your favorite producer’s latest segments. Dive into the conference agenda to plan your time, including where your preferred reporters will be showing up, and set up in-person coffee chats and interviews. Take the time to DM that journo about the cute dog in their profile picture. Find common ground with your editors when sharing patient stories. These personal ice-breakers are great ways to forge new media connections and strengthen existing relationships.
Afterthought crisis plans
Crisis situations are less of an “if,” and more of “when.” Media play a critical role in crisis communications, including being a conduit to delivering important messages to the public. Be sure to map out your crisis plan when you’re not in the middle of a crisis. Develop protocols, assemble crisis teams and chart out your courses of action ahead of time. Think about the impact on all stakeholders: the company, employees, partners, and patients. Hope that you won’t have to use the plan, but rest assured knowing it’s in place when you do need it.
It’s becoming clear that collaborative agencies, those with a focus on patient storytelling, who make intelligent use of AI and other significant tools, and who have a strong tradition of establishing two-way media relationships can enhance effective communications that impact outcomes. As we enter 2024 and navigate the intersections of technology and communication and health and well-being, it becomes evident that earned health media is in the midst of an exciting transformation toward a stronger patient-focus. The insights, ideas and strategies revealed and discussed at our summit and for our 2024 outlook have me feeling energized and ready to tackle new challenges in earned media this year!