January 11, 2013

Only 4 percent of U.S. hospitals have blogs—yikes!

As all hospital content creators know, there is no shortage of stories to tell.

Everyone blogs—kidscatsStarbucks, even an accused criminal. But in the world of hospital communications, blogging is not nearly as prevalent. In fact, fewer than four percent of hospitals have them—185 to be exact, according to the Mayo Clinic’s Health Care Social Media List.

It’s a little surprising that more hospitals haven’t embraced the blog as a way to share their stories. A blog offers a controlled communications channel that engages and drives measurable web traffic. It showcases the organization’s personality and mission. I would challenge any PR or marketing pro to come up with a tactic that does all that—in 300 words or less!

When Dr. Kevin Pho spoke at the PRSA Health Academy Conference this past May, he said that blogging had transformed the way he practiced medicine because it allowed him to share his experiences and dispel medical myths. Three key attributes that make a blog a highly effective way to tell your story are:

  • Personalization—content tailored to individual needs
  • Presentation—timely and relevant
  • Participation—consistent engagement with targeted audiences

Whether you are a physician like Dr. Pho, or a representative of a health care institution, blogging connects your organization’s messages to your audiences in a simple, direct way. There is no website to navigate, no tagline or 800-number to remember, no event to plan. And, as all hospital content creators know, there is no shortage of stories to tell. Take this opportunity to engage your hospital’s audience on their phones, tablets or computers — they are always looking for a good story.

Blogs, by their nature, invite comments by readers, so it’s important to decide in advance how those comments will be addressed as part of your comprehensive social media policy.

Here are some of my favorite storytellers (in no particular order):

This blog was previously published in PRSA Health Academy’s Winter 2013 newsletter. For more information about PRSA’s Health Academy, or follow @PRSAHealth on Twitter.

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