Building a COVID-19 Machine to Engage Media and External Engagement

For some, the COVID-19 media relations firestorm may be under control as the guidance and direction from experts around the globe have become a bit more manageable – but the need to act swiftly and strategically to build and maintain trust with media, patients and communities remains extraordinarily time consuming.

Working to position your organization and its people as a voice of authority remains mission critical. How you respond to this moment of crisis will strengthen your reputation for the challenges ahead or make the potential financial, legal, reputational and ethical trials to come even more difficult.  Through a cohesive strategy, providers can go beyond basic media relations to provide life-saving information to the public, own the message and strengthen their hard-earned reputations.

A COVID-19 media and external stakeholder engagement machine is needed to strengthen and align external communications as the COVID-19 situation evolves. This three-part machine builds a cadence that aligns with Incident Command Center daily processes and news cycles and includes:

  1. Media momentum management. Be responsive to media demand and manage the volume of incoming requests. We’ve seen several proven tactics deployed in recent weeks, including daily media alerts and virtual press briefings, utilizing an online newsroom and collaborating with city officials and fellow providers in the community.
  2. Proactive pitching. Tell the positive stories of healthcare heroism to offer a glimpse of hope to the community. While presenting the facts is critical, providers must also create an emotional climate that engenders sympathy among key audiences, spurring them to follow guidelines and recommendations. Knowing resources are tight, we can examine and maximize your spokesperson bench, and offer ways to source and tell the stories of heroism taking place within your organization.
  3. Direct community outreach. Own the message to strengthen the hard-earned reputations clinicians are earning on the front lines and share critical, life-saving information to the public. Digital channels allow providers to speak directly to their communities and convey the stories and messages most pertinent to them. Harness these channels to serve as a resource – while also amplifying positive, on-message media coverage.

These are just a few ways we can help you solve your media and external stakeholder engagement needs. We’ll be diving into each part in future posts. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for healthcare providers. Let’s act now to protect and build your reputation and essential media and community relationships.

Emily Shirden