Recently, U.S. News & World Report added public relations specialist to its list “Best Jobs 2012.” While I have no disagreement with the addition, it inspired me to consider why I chose public relations.
It’s simple, really: I chose public relations because I love all of its potential capabilities. When used correctly, public relations specialists have the power to connect the underserved and ignored with the people and companies they need most.
In public relations, it is our job to effectively, and appropriately, deliver key messages to diverse audiences. And, while it is important in all areas of PR, it is crucial in healthcare.
As both a woman and women’s studies minor, I think it is necessary to bridge the knowledge gap between low-income women and healthcare providers.
Inspired by other bloggers, PR specialists, and case studies, I have complied five tips for communicating healthcare and overall well being with low-income women.
1. Tell. Don’t Sell.
Often, low-income women don’t have the option to research or choose their healthcare provider, so you should stop trying to sell your client and start building trust.
In the blog “Medical Public Relations,” Anthony Mora explains that when the media are used to present stories of healthcare professionals and showcase their talent, it can help professionals accomplish three things:
- Establish themselves as experts in their field
- Reach their target market
- Build a successful practice
2. This Isn’t About You; It’s About Me.
Low-income women aren’t skipping their annual exam because they hate you. In fact, it most likely has nothing to do with you. Don’t just focus on your accomplishments; show women what your hospital or healthcare provider can do for them.
Kelly Young, founder of Baise Communications, described an experience where she worked with Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, and, for one day, she and various alumnae and advisory board members were each given the identity of a real, local, low-income woman faced with complications, obstacles and barriers.
Having viewed life through the eyes of its audience, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana was able to narrow its campaign because it had a better idea about what was most important to low-income women in the area.
3. Make it Easy.
In 2010, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana went above and beyond to help provide low-income women with potentially life-saving mammograms. It addressed issues such as transportation, language barriers, education levels, scheduling problems, and fear.
In their book, “Strategic Communications Planning,” Laurie J. Wilson and Joseph D. Ogden explain the necessity of focusing on an audience’s primary concerns. They say that to change behavior you have to first identify a public’s self-interest and then appeal to it.
4. Better Yet, Make it Easy and Make it Free.
Although free isn’t always an option, it almost always gets attention.
Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Rock River Free Clinic partnered for the Fort Healthcare Mammogram Campaign and successfully performed 350 free mammograms on women with little or no insurance coverage; one out of every seven patients was new.
5. Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say.
It doesn’t matter which side of the Susan G. Komen versus Planned Parenthood debate you’re on: It is impossible to deny that poor communication is partially to blame for the entire situation.
Susan G. Komen failed to provide the public with proof that it wasn’t simply removing healthcare funding for low-income women; it was redistributing the money elsewhere. Ambiguous messages cost Susan G. Komen trust, support and allies.
What tips or examples do you have?
These five tips are just my interpretation of the best communication practices; however, I hope they are useful for you. At the very least, I hope they made you think critically about communicating with diverse audiences.
February 23, 2012
Hello, and welcome to “Pondering PR.” My name is Courtney Austin, and I am a senior at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
First of all, I’d like to thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog. I hope you are as excited to read about the constantly evolving public relations industry as I am to write about it.
Here’s a quick overview of who I am: I am a 22-year-old Oregon native, born and raised in the beautiful, rainy Beaverton, Ore., and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a public relations major and a women and gender studies minor.
Ever since my freshman year, when I discovered PR, I haven’t stopped pondering about it. There is so much to know — so much to learn — and so little time left to do it before college ends and the “real world” hits. It’s only a matter of months before our professors cut us loose and hope we’ve retained enough of the strategy and theory they have so kindly pounded into our heads over the last few years.
Although I am starting this blog for a class, and will be writing a few class-specific posts throughout the next six weeks, I hope to update it two or three times a month outside of class about the PR industry and my journey into it once my class ends.
Last term, for another class, I signed up for daily updates from the “Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog.” Even though the class has since ended, I still read the emails every morning, and as I read the blunders and accomplishments of corporate giants, I wonder what other students are thinking about these same cases. So, my hope is that this blog will be a place where I can reflect on, and ponder about, different aspects of PR, and I encourage other students and professionals to contribute openly.
If you’re still pondering why I’m pondering, check out the About Courtney page or feel free to send me an email — I would love to hear from you.
Be sure to come back soon for new updates.