Mar 22 2012
By Jenn Riggle
Unless organizations have a thought leadership platform, their social media and media relations efforts are destined to fall on deaf ears.
Shel Israel’s recent Forbes article explored the topic of thought leadership and got me thinking. While not a new concept, thought leadership is important because it helps define why others should care about what you have to say. Israel defines thought leadership as “someone who looks to the future and sets a course for it that others will follow…[they] look at existing best practices then come up with better practices.”
One important way to create thought leadership is through content marketing or brand journalism, which is basically publishing educational material to help promote your organization and its services. Content marketing has long been a mainstay of B2B public relations, in the forms of developing case studies, bylined articles, white papers, fast-tip videos, webinars, etc., but it’s clear that it has real relevance to the healthcare industry as well. By publishing their own content, hospitals have an opportunity to educate people about health issues, new medical procedures, position their physicians as clinical experts and ultimately, help create preference.
A great example of a health system that promotes thought leadership is Virtua, a health system in Marlton, New Jersey. The system created its own broadcasting network and develops videos that focus on news, health treatments and wellness. By publishing their own news, they’re creating thought leadership while promoting its clinicians. Three weeks after the launch, they attracted more than 5,000 viewers to the network site. These videos were then shared via the health system’s social media networks.
Another classic platform to express thought leadership is through a corporate blog. Blogs can give executives and clinicians a platform to discuss the latest healthcare news, post videos about new procedures and talk to the patients about satisfaction and latest medical advancements. Research even shows that 89 percent of journalists source stories from blogs. However, many hospitals do not have a corporate blog. According to Ed Bennett’s blog, Found in Cache, there are 1,229 hospitals engaged in social media, but only 149 have a corporate blog. This means that hospitals are engaging in social media without the benefit of providing original content that will help position them as healthcare leaders.
Hospitals can engage in content marketing, even if they don’t have a corporate blog or broadcasting network – it’s just more difficult. However, hospitals can still establish thought leadership by strategic use of traditional media stories, bylined articles in trade publications, infographics, webinars, videos, eNewsletters and SlideShare. The key, though, is to drive people back to their website – and their blog – rather than other people’s websites.
With the many business and clinical experts on its staff, hospitals have the opportunity to promote industry leaders from within the organization. By creating a thought leadership platform and leveraging a content marketing strategy, they can give their social media efforts a real boost.
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