A Guide to Public Relations in the Health Industry

Public Relations is an important and necessary tool for promoting and communicating an organisation and its activities. Nothing is better at developing a public image, building a brand or promoting and driving sales of a product. There are various common practices involved in Public Relations which are often applicable to a wide range of different services, sectors and industries.

Some industries are more specialist in what and how you communicate your message to your intended audience. With things like building relationships with journalists and media contacts or the importance of incorporating online processes in your PR strategy, these are applicable to just about any industry.  When it comes to the health industry, public relations often require a different angle. There are various unique elements involved in healthcare PR which make public relations a more challenging process. Given the nature of the health industry, you will find authoritative news from credible and reputable sources becomes far more important. The use of data and research is often incorporated in to press releases and there is a myriad of legal requirements and restrictions on what can be used and where when it comes to healthcare organisations.


Showcased below are a number of different tips and guidelines to operating a successful PR campaign within the healthcare industry.

Make It Personal

When it comes to major health and medical coverage, you must make the story personal. People like to read about other people not faceless organisations. A successful healthcare story should lead with a case study, placing the patient, doctor or community at the centre of the piece. This ensures that the audience are better able to relate and engage with the piece, drawing greater attention to the story when it is published in various news outlets.

Get Expert Opinion

When it comes to healthcare PR, the interest and engagement of an article is driven by its authority and relevance to the audience. Given the nature of the industry and its standing amongst society, it is imperative that any health related communications are promoted as a trustworthy and credible source of information. A successful health PR campaign will feature the thoughts and opinions of industry experts and professionals, rather than the marketing spin and promotional communications of a PR agency. Avoid sales speak and write your release in an authoritative tone.

You need to make sure to add credence and weight to your story by featuring experts, whose thoughts are valued by the industry audience. Get in touch with well-known health organisations, charities and medical institutions and encourage them to share their knowledge or thoughts on an issue. Not only will this boost your article credibility but in attaching a “name” to your article you will have a greater chance of news outlets running the story and drawing greater attention to your story from the audience.

Don’t Get Hung Up on the Press Release

The media environment is dynamic and has moved far past its previous dependence on the humble press release. Public relations is now far more about all the extra value and information you can add-on surrounding the press release. Everything from case studies and videos to new research results and upcoming events can all be included in a news package around the press release.

With all the different tools and technologies available to PR agencies today, the press release alone has become less important, particularly when contained within a multitude of other newsworthy data and information. Have a think about how you can extend your story in to different categories and offer more value to the media outlet. Make sure you don’t waste too much time and resources on creating the perfect press release and neglect other more valuable press activities.

Make It Valuable (and Relevant)

With the growing wealth of available information to journalists, you must make sure your story is valuable, relevant and newsworthy. If not, journalists can easily look elsewhere for a story. You need to ensure that the story you are providing will actually be of value to those who read it, and remember it will be the general public who read it not just people in your office. Gather information on your target audience and tailor your stories to appeal directly to them. Offer them something unique, something which they haven’t seen, heard or thought about before. Gather insightful expert opinion or carry out research and analyse the data. The competition is fierce when it comes to news so you need to ensure your story stands out above all the others.

The Value is in the Research

One of the best ways to add value to a healthcare related press release is through scientific research and data. Many of the stories surrounding the health industry are based around research, data and results. Facts and figures underpinning a story surrounding different health conditions or treatments give the story greater value and credence when distributed in to the public audience. Given the nature of the industry it is crucial that this information is verified and controlled. Make sure you or your organisation commission and control the research. Don’t simply piggy back on other people’s research as this will reflect negatively on your PR campaign. Play to the strengths of the industry and provide data and information which cannot be found elsewhere.

Stick to the Law

There are a number of legislative controls and rules regarding public relations. This scrutiny is even fiercer when it comes to operating within the health industry. Depending upon the product you wish to promote, there can be a catalogue of rules and regulations regarding what can (and more often can’t) be done within public relations. It is crucial that you fully understand the regulations involved and stay on the right side of the law at all times.

Ross Moffat writes on a number of topics covering Healthcare PR and Marketing, and has been a freelance writer for the past two years.

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