Any healthcare organization is destined to slow down without effective communication. Figuring out how to choose a healthcare PR agency in the heat of competition can be challenging.
The selection process can be time-consuming and tiring. When your healthcare-related business is struggling, it’s easy to sound the alarms and hire the first PR agency you stumble across. But there are many reasons why you shouldn’t.
Join us while we explain the healthcare PR hiring process and best practices. Throughout this article, we will discuss all the key aspects critical to healthcare PR and share how you can find an agency that meets your needs.
How to Choose a Healthcare PR Agency
The healthcare field, much like other industries, can be incredibly competitive. Working with medical professionals and facilities requires a thorough understanding of the complexities involved. This is why healthcare public relations are a specialized, niche PR.
What should you look for in a healthcare PR agency?
Choosing a healthcare PR agency is not easy, especially when you haven’t identified what you are looking for. The medical PR agency you choose needs to help establish a successful media presence and build relationships with other outlets.
However, this is a general observation of what is essential in finding a Healthcare PR Agency. If we dive in deeper, there are multiple factors that you need to consider. For instance, the PR firm you choose should have deep knowledge and experience in the field.
The agency must have a good grasp of medical PR and keep track of the latest market trends. The firm you choose should also have the right connections and help your organization build a positive presence both within traditional and digital outlets.
To manage your campaigns successfully, the PR agency you choose should be able to do thorough market research and stack up your data against the competition.
Below, we will cover these factors in greater detail and teach you how to spot an agency that will compose a PR strategy suitable for your organization.
Identify Your Goals
Before you begin the healthcare PR hiring process, you must have your goals mapped out. When investing in PR, you should always keep the end results in mind. This is why defining your objectives and your PR leadership expectations is crucial.
Here are some questions that can help better determine healthier organization goals:
- What are the main goals, and what needs improving?
- How much money are you able to invest in fulfilling these goals?
- Does the PR agency have the needed resources to achieve this?
- How will you measure the campaign’s success?
- What is the timeline in which you’d like these goals to be met?
The above questions will significantly ease your conversations with prospective healthcare PR agencies. Remember, the main objective of the selection process is to find a medical PR agency that can directly support your goals and needs.
Understanding your healthcare PR needs
The first rule of order when figuring out how to choose a healthcare PR agency is looking at their industry knowledge. To understand your specific needs, the agency you will be working with must have prior healthcare experience.
Collaborating with healthcare public relations experts accustomed to communication with doctors, clinicians, and patients will ensure the best overall results. A PR agency specializing in healthcare will already have strategies and ideas in place, as they will likely have worked with similar companies before.
Healthcare public relations pursuits are more regulated compared to other industries. Due to the highly personal service process, your chosen agency must understand and effectively communicate with your patient/public.
Start by asking the agency for case studies or relevant results similar to your needs. You can also look through their list of clients to learn more about their work. These are just some of the tried and true practices that will bring you the most value.
Compatibility and communication
The next step in the healthcare PR agency selection is examining the compatibility between your staff and the agency you are considering hiring. Working side by side with people that you like offers the best results. This is why you should focus on identifying the compatibility between the PR firm and your existing staff.
First, ensure that the upper management in your company is comfortable and positive that the PR agency will deliver as promised. If the company cultures are a match, then it is more likely that the projects will flow seamlessly.
The people you initially meet are not likely to be the day-to-day workers in the agency. Picking the right healthcare PR agency will require some extra effort. You can ask about the team members’ expertise and professional experience.
The greater the communication between the two parties, the easier it would be to determine the agency’s principles.
Selecting a PR healthcare firm also depends on the budget you have at your disposal. PR agencies can vary immensely on the charges.
The price is directly affected by various factors. Charges may vary based on who will be working on your account (senior or lower staffing level). Another major price point is how much time and attention is dedicated to your account.
Unplanned financial expenses can be a dealbreaker. It is best to settle all money matters in advance. Both companies must be on the same page regarding charges, fees, and extra charges.
Agreeing on charge orders, authorizations, and approvals is also a must. Choosing a medical PR firm that comfortably fits your budget is a good practice as it will allow you to execute more PR initiatives.
Success and results
Other things you need to discuss in advance with the PR agency you choose include result-tracking tactics and tools. It’s important to have access to campaign analytics to ensure that all the criteria are met.
An overview of the campaign’s KPIs will give you direct insight into its progress and success. Request regular feedback from the PR agency and try to find an agency that tends to work openly and focuses on full client transparency.
Choose a Healthcare PR Agency
Keeping all of the factors mentioned above in mind, we can now move on to the main part and explain how to choose a healthcare PR agency in greater detail.
Researching potential agencies
When selecting a healthcare PR firm, it is easy to lose sight. One of the first obstacles is finding reputable healthcare agencies. While some might think a simple browser search will do the trick, they’d be wrong. The research process must be thorough and specific if you want to find an agency that meets your needs and standards.
At first, you might be faced with a bulk of agencies on your feed. But the list will only get shorter as you start the communications process. The PR agency search can often be overwhelming. This is why initially focusing on two to three agencies that interest you is a good practice.
Analyze the services they offer
While reputation is crucial to every business, there is a strong emphasis on maintaining a positive image in the medical field. Reputation management is central to every PR campaign. It directly affects your organization’s placement on business listings.
Today, patients rely heavily on sharing personal experiences online. They see scrolling through reviews as a way of making informed medical-related decisions.
Maintaining a positive online presence can be difficult. Even if most patients praise your staff and medical practice, negative reviews will pop up.
When deciding on a healthcare public relations firm, you must assess its practices. Inspect what it did with similar clients. Identify if it can stay on top of online review maintenance.
Examine the PR firm’s offer to determine the range of services it provides. Do they pay attention to competitors, do they offer automation, and how will they monitor performance
Assessing healthcare PR expertise
In today’s digital age, many PR firms have dazzling recommendations and captivating visuals to assure you that they are the real deal. But as mentioned previously, the healthcare field should not be taken lightly. This is why you must ensure that your chosen agency has prior experience in medical PR.
There are numerous standards and regulations that hospitals and physicians must adhere to. This is why the PR firm must have a deep understanding of the healthcare sector.
Their account team must be familiar with CMS, FDA regulations, and HIPAA compliance to craft relevant messages. Look through their records and see if the agency has proven results to support their claims.
Evaluating agency reputation and credibility
The last step of our guide on how to choose a healthcare PR agency revolves around assessing an agency’s credibility. If you have no experience in choosing a PR firm, you can easily be fooled by empty promises. Before reaching a decision, it is crucial to stack up agencies against each other.
Steer clear of PR agencies that glorify a unified approach to all sectors. Effective solutions are usually well-rounded and specific to each client.
While on paper, the agency might check all your boxes, make sure they are well-connected. Evaluate whether they have relationships with media outlets and influencer contacts that align with your organization’s needs.
Finally, check out their work and see how they communicate client messages to the public. Inspect their previous healthcare clients to learn if their content is relevant to the target audience.