Why Reputation Management Isn’t Just for a Crisis
Are you managing your organization’s reputation on a regular basis — or only when you need to combat negative PR? Far too often reputation management is synonymous with crisis management. But do you really want a crisis to prompt you to manage and shape your organization’s or brand's reputation?
As an Atlanta healthcare marketing agency, we counsel brand that there are three ways to proactively manage your brand’s reputation and overcome any negative sentiment.What shapes a brand’s reputation, and what can you do?
1. Your Digital Presence Is Your Reputation
Your online reputation is your reputation. Most people look for reviews before making decisions, whether about ordering takeout or selecting a physician. Cultivating the right, but authentic, online presence takes time and entails a digital marketing plan.
Implication: Leverage digital and traditional communication channels to pack a powerful impression. Make sure content is up to date on your website, including the news and announcements section. Fresh content signals to readers that they can rely on the website for current news.
Ensure your internal communications/media relations team is aligned with who is responsible for crafting key messaging about key events or situations. In the era of social media, timely updates and announcements on changes — whether it be an acquisition, new offering or the impact of new government regulations — is expected. Additionally, your team should identify a dedicated resource for managing and responding to reviews and comments quickly and positively on social media.
2. The Patient/Customer Experience Matters
We can’t talk enough about the patient experience /customer experience. It starts before someone makes an appointment — when they are looking for a provider or checking coverage — and includes the usability of the patient portal. This typically starts with an online search. What they find — hospital system reviews, website, patient testimonials — all contribute to shaping the CX.
While a positive brand or customer experience should make it onto Yelp, HealthGrades or Facebook, a negative experience almost assuredly will. Today’s empowered customer amplifies their voice via social media — reaching the masses within their network and beyond. The need to ensure a positive brand experience isn’t limited to the doctor’s office and recovery, but all touch points across the journey. Positive outcomes are great for business, referrals and deepening loyalty.
Implications: Directly ask patients or customers about their experience. Encourage those who report positive experiences to provide a review. Additionally, ask those patients who have achieved wellness goals through chronic illness management programs or who have undergone leading-edge procedures with great success to share their stories. You’ll find they will be proud to share their triumphs, and it offers the opportunity to provide inspiration and hope to others facing similar challenges.
3. Annual Strategic Marketing Plan
Your annual strategic marketing plan should incorporate communications that will positively reinforce your brand’s story, establish thought leadership and make an emotional connection with your stakeholders — patients, consumers, providers and businesses. Your healthcare marketing agency should develop content that will position your medical practice, hospital system or an insurance company in a positive light. Use the art of storytelling to bring in a human touch from a provider’s or customer’s perspective. This makes it accessible to the reader — whether it’s a series of short customer videos or written words accompanying photos.
Implication: Identify what brand story you want to tell. What is the impact of your practice? Does your hospital or practice have deep expertise with a specialty? Why does your employee benefits company matter? Why and how are you better, special or different from others? Creating a marketing plan that identifies the key messages to be communicated, to whom and where (the channels, e.g., display ads, SEO, pay per click, e-mail, newsletters, direct mail, TV, radio) allows for continually and consistently shaping the conversation.
Brand Reputation Crisis Checklist
While the above three considerations are for continual management of your brand’s reputation, you want to be prepared for a crisis. Below is a checklist to remind you of what it takes to be prepared when a crisis arises.
Create a crisis plan. Don’t wait for a crisis to arise. Articulate the actions and approval steps, and identify a team that is responsible for them. A swift, appropriate response can help prevent damage. Knowing how a crisis will be handled and who is responsible for the different recovery actions is essential.
Offer transparency and immediate acknowledgement of the situation. Often when a crisis crops up, you don’t have all the facts. Don’t wait. Quickly communicating within 24 hours to at least acknowledge there is a situation and that a plan is being formulated is a much stronger and more effective approach then waiting until you have all the facts. Communication needs to address internal and external stakeholders, including informing employees, issuing a press release, preparing consistent bite-sized statements for social media channels and updating websites. If needed, engage with an outside firm for help navigating this process.
Monitor and provide updates. Monitor the response to the situation, respond positively and continue to provide updates.
Of course, after the crisis has settled or has been addressed, take the time to evaluate your plan. What went smoothly? What did you learn, and what will you do differently next time?
This article originally appeared on the American Marketing Association's website on June 25th.
About Carolyn Kopf
Carolyn Kopf is the founder and managing partner of C.E.K. & Partners, an Atlanta-based branding and strategic communications firm with a focus on healthcare marketing and fintech marketing. We also focus on articulating a brand's purpose. We're trusted by Fortune 500 companies, the nation’s top hospital systems, innovators, category disruptors, start-ups and nonprofits in the B2B and B2C space to bring their brand visions to life. We help employee benefit providers, insurance companies, hospital systems and brokers create meaningful connections with customers to improve the experience leading to better relationships. Our hand-selected team of senior practitioners holds expertise that spans market research, brand strategy, brand experience, key messaging development and creative design. Our writing lab handles content strategy, content management, thought leadership and copy writing.
Carolyn can be found at www.cekpartners.com, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 404.345.6447.