Importance of Public Relations in the Rural Hospital Marketing

Marketing is most effective when a healthy communication channel is open with the audience, and PR can facilitate the creation of this channel. Public relations for rural hospitals make way for establishing a connection between the hospital and the community it is associated with. At the same time, Rural Hospital Marketing is also gaining importance since it ensures the holistic growth of the hospital, making it more approachable for the people in the community.

One of the most effective forms of marketing is word-of-mouth publicity. When public relations helps rural hospitals forge a lasting relationship with the people, it develops trust. And when people place their trust in the hospital, this gives way to publicity for the hospital free of cost! In this article, we will see how exactly public relations can help people so that rural hospital marketing can become effective.

It can help establish two-way communication

For rural hospital marketing to be successful, two-way communication is required. If marketing is viewed as a unidirectional channel where information is only broadcast and the audience is expected to consume what is served, the marketing potential is not fully utilized. A bidirectional communication channel fosters trust and open communication. So, in case of a rural hospital, the marketing strategy can be developed and improved based on the opinions of the community. Public relations for rural hospitals bridge the gap by making sure the connection between hospital management and the public is monitored and maintained continuously.

It helps to establish a lasting relationship with the community

When a good relationship created with the community, the people know that they can give feedback and that it will be taken seriously. They understand that the hospital management cares for their welfare which further strengthens the relationship. This helps bring out serious issues in the system and helps the rural hospital better manage expectations. When you want to involve the community in your marketing efforts, it is crucial that the involvement does not happen only when they are sick and need to be in the hospital on account of that. Thus, establishing a connection with the community by letting them know that you care for them works very well.

It aims at empowering the community through awareness

Timely information must reach the community via proper channels. When they receive honest and balanced information, the credibility of the hospital gets established. However, it is important that the community implicitly trusts the source of information. Public Relations for rural hospitals make sure that the right information reaches the right people through the right channels. This makes rural hospital marketing much more practical and helpful rather than just a method to create brand awareness. It also makes sure that the community is empowered and served well.

It can educate the community through targeted events and programs

It becomes the responsibility of the hospital management to take educational programs for the benefit of the community. And the benefits are two-way. Apart from benefiting the community, it also helps with the PR. Under public relations for rural hospitals, educational programs can be undertaken. During these programs, the message which the hospital wants to associate itself with should be conveyed subtly but strongly. The publicity with the intended message reaching the entire community within a short span helps with brand awareness automatically. And no marketing strategy works better than word of mouth publicity.

It can create awareness about public health

By creating awareness of public health issues such as cancer awareness and screening, the importance of immunization, etc. there is a huge potential to reach the wider community. Under public relations of rural hospitals, events can be held on national days dedicated for awareness to have a good impact. Rural hospital marketing becomes better streamlined when it is aligned with the goals of the community too.

Another excellent strategy to create brand awareness about the hospital is by holding health check-up camps, free screenings, etc. The hospital staff also gets a chance to interact with the people of the community making way for trust and a personal connection. This not only leads to a healthier community but also makes sure the hospital’s brand earns respect and trust.

Public Relations can be used in sync with other marketing strategies

Aligning your marketing strategies with the activities under public relations is the ideal approach for rural hospitals to achieve good results both in terms of marketing effectiveness and better benefits to the community.

Proper alignment also ensures that the stakeholders are aware of the hospital’s position on all issues and have a good idea about the success of marketing. This leads to the development of the rural hospital as a whole aided by the efforts of the staff, the trust of the community, the backing of the management, and good marketing.

This alignment and coordinating also help save a lot of time, money and resources in the long run. And what you ultimately have is a flourishing rural hospital, one in which the community places its absolute trust. Thus, public relations can achieve the best results for rural hospital management when done in sync with marketing strategies.

Four ways to improve your rural hospital marketing strategy

Four ways to improve your rural hospital marketing strategy

Marketing strategies aren’t always top priorities for hospitals and clinics in small communities. Marketing tends to be done as ideas come up and needs arise. While it’s good to be flexible, not committing to planning a rural hospital marketing strategy can mean lost opportunities and lost revenue.

Sitting down to update your marketing strategy and identify areas of opportunity will help your hospital save time in the long run by setting expectations and giving you a schedule that fits your resources.

Set goals and look ahead

The key to planning ahead is knowing where you are so you can make the right steps for your rural hospital marketing plan. Assess where your marketing strategy is now and decide where you want it to be during a specific and measurable period of time.

Budgets are always on the minds of rural healthcare leaders. Knowing what is realistic to accomplish using the resources you have will help you adjust your strategy when necessary and prevent you from going over budget. It’s also important to know what aspects of your rural healthcare marketing strategy get you the most bang for your buck. For many rural hospitals this could be the swing bed program or physical therapy.

Look at what is coming up on your hospital’s calendar. Think about the types of events that seem like a natural fit for the hospital; or events that you want to highlight. In May, for example, you could focus your marketing materials on Hospital Week and Nurses Week as opportunities to raise awareness of your rural hospital’s healthcare team.

Choose the right marketing tools for your goals

It’s important to prioritize your marketing materials so you can maximize exposure and engagement. A press release in the local newspaper, for example, is worth 3 to 5 times the cost of an advertisement of similar size. This is because it is a story and not a paid advertisement.

Also consider other marketing opportunities, such as a radio advertisement or a newsletter or direct mailer.

Think about how you can use your online presence to add to your rural healthcare marketing and public relations strategy. Leveraging your rural hospital’s social media presence is an important and cost effective way to connect with your community.

Dedicate the right person for the job

Rural hospitals often don’t have enough money in the budget for a dedicated marketing team. That’s why they often choose to spread some of the responsibilities to various members of the team.

While this is a good way to get more out of your marketing budget, it can prove difficult to coordinate when team members don’t know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.

Dedicating the same person to check the main email account every morning will ensure that it isn’t forgotten. Having one person to update the social media accounts will make sure you speak with the same voice. Consistency and clarity are key to a smooth marketing operation.

Be prepared

Having your rural healthcare marketing materials ready in advance will alleviate the rush to get everything done as events and deadlines approach. Knowing at the beginning of the month what needs to be done every week will help guide you and your team toward what you are preparing for. If you have your marketing materials on hand and ready to use, you will be able to meet your goals!

A rural healthcare marketing strategy will pay dividends

It is no secret that rural hospitals have small budgets, and resources for rural hospital marketing are often the first things to go. However, keeping your healthcare facility in front of your community and raising awareness of your providers will help improve trust and slow out-migration. The key to doing that is working on your marketing strategy – making a plan, knowing your resources, and dedicating the right person for the job.

SRJEasyHealthcare.com is a membership-based program that takes the stress out of rural healthcare marketing by providing the marketing tools and support you and your team need. As a member, you have access to powerful marketing tools such as press releases, social media posts, advertising and more so you can spend more time on your other myriad tasks.

To learn more, check out member benefits or call us at 1-800-411-7401 for a free consultation.

10 benefits of a patient-centered hospital website

Hospitals compete for customers just like other businesses. Today’s patients are sophisticated consumers and avid researchers as well. A Deloitte study says that 77% of them use search and 83% visit hospital websites before setting up appointments.

The decision process is indeed influenced by digital content. That’s why it’s critical to put the patient at the center of a hospital website.

Forget the past. To be original and appealing your hospital website must be built from a fresh, solid foundation.  Patient-centered hospital websites present meaningful and relevant information with intuitive, easy-to-use navigation for locating useful or actionable information quickly.

Simple, clear navigation is a critical aspect of a hospital web design as many of the visitors will be scanning for information in a hurry.  Hospital websites will keep visitors engaged with the content and encourage them to spend more time on the site. A professional hospital website can lower bounce rates and send positive signals to Google, boosting your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.                                  

Is your Rural Hospital Website Design designed and updated from a patient’s perspective? Put yourself in their shoes. Your patients want and expect health care delivered with a sense of immediacy and convenience. They are most likely to go online first, and nearly all of them (90%) will begin a search with their mobile device.

 A responsive, mobile-friendly hospital web design is non-negotiable. Google rewards mobile-friendly hospital sites with improved search rankings and visibility. Whether viewed on desktop or mobile, the website is a core element of any branding strategy as it is a cost-effective and appealing channel to reach out, scale to potential patients and their network of friends.

Rural hospitals websites offer an opportunity to showcase your brand and to tell your story in a compelling manner. Profile your doctors and interview them. Along with photos, include info about education, areas of practice, and offbeat nuggets such as hobbies. Provide info on the departments, your services, and an interactive map to locate your facility.

The content you publish should be complete, accurate, up-to-date and easy to understand without jargon.  Don’t fall into the trap of content overload. Make every element (text, photo, video, flash animation) clear to visitors. To make this possible rely on a good web team experienced in web design for rural hospitals

When done well, patients and visitors find hospital blogs a goldmine of content featuring medical tips, treatment programs, diagnosis, trends, general discussion on a range of diseases and more.

A 3D tour of the hospital provides a positive user experience. You can include video clips that demonstrate how a procedure works or a doctor’s interview. Enabling appointment booking with doctors and live chat sessions will add value as well.

An effective rural hospital website with useful features and interactivity can help in 10 ways:

1. Reach out to potential patients and/or their influencers in a cost-effective manner

2. Get casual visitors interested in your services and ready to book an appointment or sign up for newsletters

3. Gather a database of potential patients you can contact

4. Improve brand recognition and positive image of your hospital

5. Establish expertise in select specialties and treatments

6. Make a great first impression with a potential patient

7. Generate a growing interest and a desire to buy, order, consult

8. Promote doctors, enhance visibility on search engines and boost rankings

9. Offer a human touch and present a likable brand personality

10. Discuss trends, best-in-class practices, share success stories

Don’t underestimate the power of an appealing rural hospital website design. If your site is not professionally designed and up-to-date, you may have trouble connecting with visitors.

A well-designed rural hospital website opens a window to have a heart-to-heart interaction with your potential patients. Tell your story and keep it compelling and positive.

Interested in a patient-centered hospital website?

The web team at SRJ have years of experience creating great Rural Hospital Website Design. For a free consultation, call us at 1-800-411-7401.