When storytelling in healthcare is done well, movements can be created. For instance, a person can become injured and know exactly which facility they should seek care from, simply because they remembered a tactic or campaign. On April 18th, four panelists joined WMPRSA members and guests to help unpack the process behind creating a powerful and long-lasting message in the industry.
The panelists included Tonita Chetham, Group Director of Communications at Detroit Medical Center; Adam Barr, freelance copywriter at Copy By Adam; Jen VanSkiver, Chief Communications Officer & Director of External Affairs at North Ottowa Community Health System; and Tiffany Aldrich, Director of Communications at Cherry Health.
The Story Within The Story
Testimonials are a go-to for many professionals in the healthcare field. The panelists agreed that patient testimonials are essential, but that they need to be used correctly within a campaign. As a freelance copywriter, Adam has had his fair share of experiences helping healthcare companies find the story within the story. He says that testimonials should be used in collaboration with one another, building up a broader and more powerful story. Adam says that the best testimonials are genuine and unsolicited - they will generate themselves when good work is accomplished.
When dealing with patient testimonials, the panelists insisted that professionals need to recognize the sensitivity surrounding their stories. They must remember that there are real feelings and human emotions tied with the work they are doing, and that people should always come first.
It’s All About Timing
The panelists agreed that timing is vital for the success of a campaign, especially when it includes storytelling. Jen said that the most successful stories tie into something relevant within the community or tie into a broader topic. As in every industry, professionals must know their audience and what they’re looking for – and when they’re looking for it.
Tonita shared insights about the Detroit Medical Center’s recent campaign, “Community Built on Care,” that was implemented after they experienced a lot of negative publicity. Tonita and her team wanted to return to the essence of who they are, including the community in that process. She says that this campaign was pushed at the right time in order to build trust back into their brand.
Successful Storytelling Tips
Keep your stories relevant and timely. Tie them into something going on more broadly that people can relate to.
Remember your audience. Break down complicated topics and use terminology your audience will understand.
Tailor stories to what journalists are interested in, more than just their beat. Know your reporter.
The community is a healthcare companies biggest ambassador. When community members tell the story of an organization, they drive authentic results
Understand the difference between your administration’s expectations and the public’s, and find ways to meet both needs.