Keeping Your Web-utation: 5 Tips to Manage a Hospital's Brand Online

Managing the reputation for any business can, at times, seem like a futile attempt to get toothpaste back in the tube. Everybody has always had something to say — now they have a limitless number of places where they can say it on the web. How can hospitals make their voices heard online amid all that noise?

It's certainly not easy, and it takes a large amount of skill, forward-thinking and discipline. The following five tips can help hospitals exert greater control over online reputations.

1. Make it a group effort. Successful online brand management begins by choosing the right people to head it. They can monitor what's being said about the hospital or system while simultaneously establishing a credible presence that serves as an anchor in an ever-changing online world.

"This group should be small, nimble and have the authority to act quickly," says Molly Cate, partner with Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, a healthcare public affairs firm in Brentwood, Tenn., and Chicago. "They’re a great way to monitor your organization across the web, in the news and throughout various social media outlets. When it makes sense and is appropriate, they should actively engage in social media activity on behalf of the organization so that, overtime, a presence and voice is built."

2. Dismiss what may not be important. The team tasked to head online brand management should have a sense of priorities. This can be difficult to determine, as Google Alerts flood inboxes and simply responding to comments or Tweets can eat up an entire work day. "Managing your reputation on the web and engaging in active conversations can quickly turn into a full-time effort. While some comments may be hard to swallow, not all of them demand a response — especially when the other side can remain anonymous. At some point, there's a law of diminishing returns," says Ms. Cate. By establishing an informal protocol, communication teams can avoid burn out and execute more long-term projects by knowing what content merits response.  

3. Give employees room to talk. Online intranet platforms act as the modern-day suggestion box. These outlets can give employees a place to voice dissatisfaction with management, congratulate a colleague, or talking about other issues of relevance to the hospital. Without this secure and safe platform, hospital employees may quickly resort to public forums. "Build an internal platform so that your employees have a two-way communication vehicle to talk with each other and with administration. If not, they'll do it elsewhere — on the web, Facebook, Twitter, etc.," says Ms. Cate.  

4. Get one step ahead of your opposition. "Secure all domain names on the web and various social media outlets that are similar to your organization — or could be used against you," says Ms. Cate. For example, "XYZ Hospital" may want to grab domain names that are similar to prevent false social media accounts, spamming or other online mishaps. For instance, "XYZ_Hospital," "XYZHospital," "XYZHospitalChicago" — knock-off domains like these can easily be accepted as legitimate by other people or patients online. Hack accounts don't necessarily have to slander a hospital's name to be problematic — their mere existence shows the hospital doesn't have full control over its brand, image and reputation.

5. Leverage each opportunity. Members of the media might know to visit hospital website, steer to the newsroom tab and look for news releases there. The typical hospital patient? Maybe not so much. Hospitals can use Google and other search engines to their advantage by making the most of wire sites to share hospital news. "When you organization issues a news release, utilize a wire service like Business Wire or PR News Wire. It will increase your organization's search engine optimization profile," says Ms. Cate. Through such wire services, hospitals can maintain control of the message and details of the news announcement while also making it more accessible to people who might only use search engines.

Learn more about Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock.

Related Articles on Hospital Communication:

Taming a Hospital Crisis: 7 Rules Of the Road
5 Tips for Hospitals Marketing to Patients Through New Technology
9 Considerations Hospitals Can't Overlook When Marketing Specialty Programs

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars