For years, we’ve been pitching the idea that healthcare providers—including hospitals and health systems—should use their marketing channels to provide great health content to the communities they serve. You don’t need to constantly promote your practice. If you give me health information I can use, I’ll know and trust you when I need help.
But how many times can you recycle the same old seasonal health tips? Maybe you should just be pulling up that content you wrote last year to the front of your blog. (In fact, why are you not doing that?)
If you’re looking for another way to connect with health-conscious people in your community, consider newsjacking. Newsjacking is, in essence, taking advantage of health stories that are already in the world by adding your own expert commentary. By insinuating yourself into the larger story as a local expert, you become part of that story, and it becomes part of your practice.
For example: At this writing, we’re witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Houston’s hospitals struggled to help victims of the storm—and patients already under their care—while dealing with the storm itself. How prepared were they for this state of emergency?
Then: What does it take to be prepared for emergencies at your local hospital? Here in the Midwest, we encounter flooding and tornadoes and ice storms that not only devastate people but destroy infrastructure and knock out power. Does somebody at your health system keep a close eye on the weather? Do you do anything different when there’s a big storm on the way?
It’s an interesting angle—maybe interesting enough to attract the attention of a local reporter if you pitch it right (which is another benefit of a newsjacking mindset). But it’s definitely interesting enough to develop into a blog post and share liberally across your digital networks. You don’t even have to explain the backstory: Provide a couple of links to reputable news sources for background about the big story (in this case, Hurricane Harvey), and just tell your story.
Here’s another example: Sen. John McCain was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma. What’s that? How many people does it affect? Do you treat that? What can you tell an audience eager to understand the disease the afflicts an ex-candidate for President of the United States?
Almost any health-related story in the news can be newsjacked. Results of studies, the health of athletes and other celebrities, outbreaks of flu and other diseases, breakthroughs in treatment—these kinds of news items can be inspiration for your own stories. If you can connect it with your practice, you can connect with readers online.
Remember that timing is important, too. The storm will be a big story for a while, but public interest in other parts of the country will wane with the passing of the news cycles. When there’s a story in the news, you have to be prepared to move fast if you want to gain the biggest audience.
Is newsjacking for you? If you want to be recognized as an expert in your field, you should be commenting the news that affects your profession. You’re probably doing it in your personal and professional conversations, anyway. Share your expertise with the public by connecting it with the stories that are piquing their interest today, and they’ll think of you when they need you down the road.