Three Ways to Build Community Relations

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Many might consider the most successful PR results to be showcased on a prime-time news show, featured in the Sunday paper, or heavily “liked” on social media.

Sure, those are all great, but a well-received appearance by your client out and about in the community can be just as effective at furthering their brand. 

Maybe it’s time to consider cueing up your community relations plan. 

What is community relations?

Community relations is when a healthcare company or physician practice takes an active role to build a sustainable relationship with its surrounding community. Listening to and taking stock in the interests of those around you positions you as a responsible corporate citizen—and that can have lasting benefits.  

Chief among these benefits could be a boost to your bottom line (patient volumes) by establishing yourself as the most trusted, “go-to” resource – or provider—in your specific field among local individuals, organizations, and fellow businesses.  

Another benefit of dedicated community relations is being able to offer your team the valuable opportunity to give back or pay it forward. Younger generations are becoming increasingly concerned with and driven by corporate social responsibility and showing that you are active in the community can be a plus in attracting new talent to your team. 

How do you design a community relations plan?

First of all, find out what is of interest or importance to your community, create an inventory of your inhouse expertise, and then figure out how to align the two. 

Three simple ways to share your company’s message while addressing the community’s needs include:

1.    Seeking out strategic speaking opportunities to educate about what you do and how your services contribute to the well-being or quality of life for those around you.  

2.    Show up and volunteer regularly (in person) at area events or with organizations that could use your help. Consider starting a monthly, quarterly, or annual employee community service outing or project. 

3.    Investigate others in the community to partner with or lend your name or services to via sponsorships targeting a certain demographic that you’d like to reach. 

Some examples of successful community relations efforts that MedVoicePR has coordinated on behalf of clients are:

  • Visiting seniors at local retirement communities and sharing tips from an orthopedic perspective on how to keep joints flexible and bones healthy so they can stay mobile and independent

  • Educating nurses and teachers by pediatric neurologists at area school districts on the most current concussion protocols for children and how to address ADHD symptoms or treat epilepsy/seizures in the classroom

  • Administering free flu shots on Veterans Day to the honorable men and women who have served our nation at a veteran’s nonprofitorganizationvia our on-demand, urgent mobile healthcare provider

Always remember that being a good neighbor to those around you just makes good sense.

 

Contact us at MedVoicePR to help you develop a custom and strategic community relations plan to fit your needs.

5 Marketing & PR Tips For Your Medical Practice

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By: Emily Schmitz, Founder, MedVoice PR

The medical landscape in Central Texas has become fiercely competitive.  Declining reimbursement, increasing regulations, a shift to value care, and a rise in healthcare consumerism has all turned the heat on physician practices.  And gone are the days where your patient base came from referring physicians alone. 

What can you do to stay competitive, while maintaining and even increasing your patient volumes? A comprehensive public relations and marketing strategy is a smart place to start. 

 Here are 5 tips for developing and maintaining effective communication efforts for your medical practice:

1)  Keep your physician and community outreach constant: Physician liaisons are a vital part of a practice’s communication efforts. It helps maintain an open line of communication between you and referring physicians so that your practice can retain and grow your patient referral base. Staying active in the community through speaking engagements and relevant sponsorships is a great way to elevate your practice’s brand awareness. 

2)  Add credibility with traditional media exposure: Traditional media exposure (TV, radio, and newspaper interviews) is still relevant! Patients love to see their doctors in the news. But what you do with those interviews afterthey air or go to print is what’s really important. Repurpose the interview links via your social media channels (promote on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & YouTube) and make sure you optimize them with key words.  Being quoted in the media also adds a very important layer of credibility to your practice. It helps frame you as a ‘go-to’ expert in your field.  

3)  Build robust content marketing and proactively ‘serve it’ to your audiences:  Maintain fresh content on your website through blogs. This helps you create a resource library of educational content for potential patients. And it adds a new level of credibility for you when a visitor goes to your website and wants to learn more about a certain condition or treatment. If the content is nonexistent or outdated, you’re missing a prime opportunity.  And make sure that you optimize those blogs with relevant key words. Then promote that content through the right social media channels. 

4)  Maintain a strong social media presence: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are wonderful platforms to keep consistent information flowing to your patients. It’s also a great way for your patients to ‘share’ your information to their friends and followers. This organically opens the door to many more potential patients for you. And now that Facebook is a primary source for reviews, it’s a platform that you can’t afford to ignore. 

5)  Educate and attract with videos: Patients are researching their physicians and recommended treatments to learn more.With short videos, physicians are able to “meet” current or potential patients by communicating their passion for medicine or explaining a condition or procedure. While we all like to think shooting videos on our phones is a simple, inexpensive way to go, hiring a professional will take your videos much further. 

Maintaining public relations and marketing can be a full-time job. Investing in a public relations firm in Austin that specializes in medical and healthcare can make all the difference. Contact MedVoice PR, if you would like more information about communication strategies for your practice.  

 

When a Crisis Hits, Follow This One Rule

By Ellen Decareau, Chief Strategist

It’s hard to predict a crisis. The ones that are predictable, well, if you think they could happen, they are easier to plan for. It is the unexpected, strange, and traumatic ones that test the agility and aptitude of a communications team.

-     Mice turned blue in a preclinical trial. 

-     Someone was shot in the parking lot. 

-     The third-party organization managing your clinical trial just went bankrupt mid-trial. 

-     A multi-million-dollar fee was just assessed due to a new government law. 

-     A senior leader was killed in a car crash.

 I could go on and on (yes, all of the above have happened), but you get the point. In all of these situations there is one rule that prevailed for what was a considered a successful response — assemble your team ASAP and respond quickly. This might seem logical — but there are countless examples where companies waited to get the message and story ‘just right’.  And in that time, their brand and reputation crumbled.

1)   Assemble the team.These are your high-level executive company decision-makers, likely one or more C-level representatives. Add also key persons relevant to where the crisis is concerned (medical affairs, IT, marketing/communications, Human Resources, regulatory affairs, etc.). Do you have a PR/communications agency? Bring them in early on to help manage the message. While legal does not need to be part of your “inner” crisis team, they need to be abreast of the situation and action plan. Aim to keep the crisis team ‘concise’ – only key individuals who will help you understand the problem and its possible ripple effects. The larger the team, the harder it is to achieve the next step.

2)   Respond quickly even if you’re not sure of the solution or cause. Look no further than Mr. Facebook himself as an example of what happens when you wait too long.Facebook’s “Delay, Deny and Deflect” strategy for addressing crises of late seem to be taking its toll on the brand with consumers deleting their accounts and industry leaders calling for leadership changes. Eek. But the guy who built a media platform that thrives on immediacy should know better. Even if you don’t have all of the answers, staying quiet only brings more scrutiny and questions. Distrust starts to form, which is typically hard to recover from.

Key Takeaway: At the end of the day, the vast majority of organizations rely on their relationships — that may be investors, patients, consumers, doctors, other businesses. Most are reasonable — they don’t expect you to know all the ‘why’s’ and ‘how come’s’ hours after the crisis was discovered. But, they do expect you to be transparent, express remorse (when appropriate), agree to take action & responsibility (if relevant) and communicate frequently.

Videos for Public Relations: The ingredient with an 89% effectiveness rating

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By Todd Rogenthien, MedVoice PR Video Strategist

I don’t mean to brag, but I can make a show-stopping, damn good cookie. 

A good cookie is like any good marketing strategy. It has a list of basic ingredients, but like my cookies, don’t you need something that stands out? Don’t you need something that makes patients say, “Wow!” and take notice? Don’t you need that secret ingredient that takes your marketing to another level and leaves potential patients wanting more?

Many practices are lacking that one ingredient and they don’t even realize it. In my opinion, it’s the patient testimonial. The testimonial is a very powerful ingredient in your marketing strategy to turn prospects into patients. They want to know you have the expertise and skills they need for their healthcare. And it’s an emotional decision. What better way to influence those emotions than with compelling patient stories that give true, honest opinions? If you ask me, there’s no better way to relate those emotions than with a video testimonial.

So why video? Video provides a human element to the testimonial. Video puts a face with the opinion and not just that, but it also lets your potential patients hear the inflections in the voice, see the facial expressions, and most importantly, feel what they experienced on their medical journey. A great storyteller once told me, “Don’t tell me what you saw, show me what you experienced.” You are adding a third dimension to the testimonial that an opinion in plain text lacks. You are building credibility with people who are most likely ready to take action. Anyone searching online for opinions on a practice or procedure is ready to pull the trigger, but they just haven't decided where. 

And make sure you upload those testimonials to YouTube – their stats are jaw-dropping:

  •  it’s the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook. 

  • On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any broadcast or CABLE TV network

  • We watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos a day, more than Netflix and Facebook video combined


Finally, patient testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%, according to Social Fresh. And there's your secret ingredient! 

Key takeaway: Video is the tool to connect your practice with patients in a way you couldn’t before. 

Here’s an example of a compelling patient testimonial: 
https://youtu.be/LCImllVlx2A

 

For more information on video strategy for your overall communications plan, contact us at Emily@medvoicepr.com

 

Media Relations: Offering Up Medical Expertise During the Water Crisis in Austin, Texas

Austin received its first-ever boil water advisory in the city’s history. Recent flooding in the city washed unknown amounts of soil and silt into the local rivers, which had health officials concerned for a potential contaminated water supply. The more than one million residents and visitors that use City of Austin water were advised to use bottled water or boil water for at least three minutes before drinking to prevent any potential health issues.

News outlets started reporting about the health advisory before dawn and by 6 a.m., most grocery stores had sold out of bottled water. 

MedVoice PR quickly respond to this crisis, by calling our client, Austin Gastroenterology, to provide Central Texas important health information about signs and symptoms of bacterial or viral infections from contaminated water.

We worked quickly and closely with physician, Dr. Harry Thomas on messaging and media preparation. Within a one-hour time frame, we reached out to local media outlets and scheduled five interviews with broadcast outlets, KXAN (NBC), KVUE (ABC), Fox 7, KEYE (CBS) and Spectrum News.

Multiple stations outside Central Texas also picked up the interview with Dr. Thomas, including national morning show, CBS This Morning.

Key Takeaway: When time is of the essence, solid editorial judgment, effective media outreach and media relationships are vital.

For more information on how media relations can be key to your overall communications plan, contact us at emily@medvoicepr.com

 

Cheers… to Our Fabulous Night Out!

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The local business community was buzzing recently as the Austin Chamber of Commerce handed out its annual Greater Austin Business Awards. The Greater Austin Business Awards are held each year to honor excellence in several categories including  company culture, employee wellness, environmental champion, uniquely Austin, and executive leadership. 

Our MedVoice PR team was right there to celebrate the city’s thriving business economy and cheer on MedVoice Founder Emily Schmitz who was named a finalist in the Executive Leadership category. 

The executive leadership award recognizes those who expertly manage members of an organization while positively influencing both theirs and the company’s goals.  With Emily having led MedVoice to its recent ten-year anniversary in business, and skillfully steering the storytelling of their ever-growing portfolio of clients, she was a natural fit for this prestigious nomination. 

MedVoice was proud to share the evening with our team, clients and amazing representatives of the Austin business community, and also proud to celebrate all we’ve contributed to it during our first ten years!

MedVoice PR Celebrates 10 Years of Storytelling

Medical Communications Company Marks a Decade as the Trusted Voice of Austin’s Health and Medical Communities

Austin, Texas – May 29, 2018 – Through the massive changes happening in our healthcare landscape, MedVoice PR celebrates 10 years of serving the health and medical communities of Central Texas and beyond.

MedVoice, formerly ESS Communications, is one of the only full-service communications agencies in Austin devoted entirely to the growing medical industry and healthcare communities in our area. 

They take the complexities of medicine and healthcare and tell a story through various mediums including traditional public relations, social media, and digital marketing. 

As the medical community has exploded in Austin with the addition of the Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, Dell Medical School and the impending arrival of Texas Children’s Hospital, companies and physician practices are seeking this specialized marketing to set them apart from the competition. 

MedVoice founder, Emily Schmitz, saw the opportunity to support this growing community 10 years ago.

 “Sharing stories about a patient’s positive medical experience or informing the public about an innovative new technology could be life-changing for someone. It’s why we do what we do,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz started as a medical producer and reporter in 1992 and developed a unique know-how of telling stories in front of and behind the television camera. The poignant stories she and her team helps clients articulate are both thought provoking and heartfelt, and they're regularly featured in broadcast, print, and online media. 

MedVoice team members include chief strategist, Ellen Decareau, digital strategist, Dawn McKeag, content strategist, Alyssa Drury, senior medical writer, Steve Taylor, account manager, Leslie Branon, and graphic designer, Katy Byther.

MedVoice’s current portfolio includes large physician practices, as well as companies that are a true marriage of medicine and modern technology. 

For more information, visit www.medvoicepr.comand follow MedVoice PR on Facebook and Instagram.

 

About MedVoice PR

MedVoice PR is a full-service communications company offering public relations and marketing services to medical and health care communities. Services include media relations, digital marketing, media training, branding efforts, video production, community outreach, social media management, and advertising support. Our 25+ years of medical communications sets us apart from the rest. 

Modern House Call App & Service, FetchMD, Hires MedVoice PR

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FetchMD, a modern day house call app and service has made its way to Austin from San Antonio and has hired MedVoice PR for all of their public relations efforts, including strategic planning, marketing, community outreach and media outreach.

FetchMD provides a convenient alternative to visiting a doctor’s office or urgent care center. Parents don’t need to “pack up the kids” and leave home. Employees don’t need to miss work to travel to and from a medical appointment.  Time not spent driving and sitting in cold waiting rooms filled with germs instead can be used constructively.

Ranger Health operates Fetch MD and is headquartered in San Antonio

Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) Annual Conference-Orlando

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  Ellen Decareau, MedVoice PR’s Chief Strategist and Emily Schmitz, Founder, MedVoice PR

pictured above is Ellen Decareau, MedVoice PR’s Chief Strategist and Emily Schmitz, Founder, MedVoice PR

Healthcare strategy is an enormous and challenging responsibility that often falls on the storytellers for an organization – the marketing and public relations specialists.

 

The Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) recently held their annual conference in Orlando and folks working in marketing, public relations, physician relations and planning attended the three-day event.

 

Sessions focusing on strategic planning and development, marketing, public relations, analytics and research, physician strategies and digital engagement wereoffered and we soaked in as much information as we could.

 

We heard from various U.S. hospital systems about some of their marketing ‘best practices’, including some fascinating case studies about the impact of social media marketing, digital marketing and video.

 

Some timely topics covered included the opioid epidemic and what healthcare organizations are doing to create better awareness, the ‘Retail-ization’ and ‘Consumer-ization’ of healthcare, and Google insights on harnessing the power of video and mobile.

 

We can’t wait to share these insights with our clients!

Vista360health Sponsors Campfire at TechRanch

Vista360health was proud to sponsor a 'Campfire' networking event at TechRanch, a local entrepreneur incubator.

It was a packed house when Vista360health's President, Sharon Alvis and Sr. VP of Operations, Karen Ator talked about what makes their local HMO-plan different from giant insurance companies.

They highlighted their 'local' presence - everything frm their provider network to their customer service reps who are all in the ATX. 

Vista360health especially caters to individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses. They plan to extend that reach to large employers in 2017.

 

A Mother's Day Story

Kim Overton, an entrepreneur, was in her mid-30s and hadn't found the "right partner" so she had her fist child solo via IVF. A few years later, when she found a great partner, she hoped for a second child but was unsuccessful after several attempts. When she shared her experience with her family, her cousin's daughter offered to be her surrogate. She became a mother for a second time to Oliver Overton in March of 2016.

One of the founders of Texas Fertility Center, Dr. Thomas Vaughn, understands deeply both the medical and emotional sides to surrogacy. TFC is implanting embryos in gestational carriers 10 to 15 times a year.

Read more about the steps to having their baby here.

10-Year-Old with Brain "Pacemaker" to Control his Seizures Launches Non-Profit to Raise Awareness About his Disease, Epilepsy

Child Neurology Consultants of Austin's 10 year old client, Chase, was frustrated that his school's disease awareness programs ignored epilepsy, a condition he has lived with all of his life. So, with the help of his father, he launched Chase for the Cure, a non-profit bringing epilepsy awareness to local schools and raising money to let epilepsy kids experience the joy of camp at Camp Brainstorm. Kids with epilepsy often aren't allowed to take part in swimming, canoeing, horse back riding, water skiing and related summer camp activities because of the seizure risk. Chase has organized a Hoop-a-thon fundraiser on October 22.

Diagnosed with epilepsy at 3 years old, Chase once experienced 20-25 seizures a day. When his anti-seizure medicines stopped being effective, his pediatric neurologist, Dr. Karen Keough, recommended VNS, essentially a pacemaker for the brain. The device is surgically implanted in the chest. Electrodes from the device run up through his neck and send regular shocks to the brain to prevent seizures. While Chase will have future procedures to replace the batteries of this device, his seizures are now nearly gone. Now he wants to use his experience to talk to others about his disease.

Epilepsy is not an uncommon condition. There are about 130,000 adults and children in Central and South Texas who suffer from the disease. Read more about the story here.

From the AAP Conference Floor, Dr. Ari Brown Reports on New Screen Time Policy

Parents have been increasingly skeptical about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) strict screen time policy for children believing that it isn’t reflective of 21st century media culture.
 
In October, the AAP finally updated its policy.

 

MedVoice PR’s client Dr. Ari Brown of 411 Pediatrics was on the ground at the AAP Conference when the new policy was issued. We connected her to local media to detail the changes from the conference floor.

 

The Austin American-Statesman outlined the new policy:

·      Children younger than 18 months of age: Avoid the use of any screen media except video chatting (with grandparents, for example).

·      Children ages 18 months to 24 months: Introduce high-quality programs or apps, but do it with your children to create a dialog about what they are seeing and how it relates to the world around them.

·      Children ages 2 to 5 years: Limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programs that you view with your children.

·      Children ages six and older, place consistent limits on time spent using media, the types of media and make sure that the use of media does not take the place of sleeping, exercise and other healthy behaviors.

·      Designate media-free times together such as during dinner or while driving as well as media-free locations at home such as bedrooms.


Read the full article here.

Zika: MedVoice PR’s Client Explains What Women Should Know

This past summer, Zika virus has been a concern for all women who are pregnant or hoping to conceive…and for good reason. The mosquito-born illness is associated with a condition called microcephaly, a devastating neurological disease that affects unborn children.

 

 

When an outbreak of Zika occurred in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, the first reported in the United States, health officials issued a travel warning for pregnant women.


MedVoice PR’s client, Texas Fertility Center, received many questions from concerned patients. Should they delay fertility treatments? How can they safely avoid Zika?

 

We connected Dr. Thomas Vaughn, fertility specialist at TFC, to KXAN to answer these and others questions.

 

One of the key messages provided by Dr. Vaughn…wherever you are, protect yourself. That means if you’re outside wear long sleeves and mosquito repellant.

 

To learn more, check out the news story here.