“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page advertisement.”- Richard Branson.
In a broader perspective, PR is the status of the image created and maintained professionally through certain organized and planned PR activities and events. PR activities are systematically carried out through the press media coverage of the company’s programs, initiatives or events. In some instances, press conferences are called to address the news media through focused PR propaganda.
PR is seen through numerous industries of sports, business, agriculture, education, politics, social, cultural and healthcare sectors.
Healthcare sector too? Yes! Healthcare also.
Gone are the days when the medical fraternity refrained from any kind of public communication adhering to the soft, sober and dedicated-to-serve ideology. In the recent decade, many health care institutions, hospitals, research centers, and medical diagnostic centers have taken active initiatives in spreading awareness about their facilities and services.
Advertising is a commercial communication known to everyone. Whereas the PR exercises like press notes, interview coverage, news magazines, social films work from a different perspective, increasing the reliability of the information as it comes from the editorial department.
Technically, doctors and healthcare professionals do not have the policy to advertise openly as they fall under the ‘essential lifesaving services ‘category. So, the need to communicate evenly and stand out in the competition, public relations activities become imperative and reliable communication resources.
Many hospitals plan social initiatives of conducting free health check-up camps, eye check-up drives, blood donation camps in various urban and rural areas. The basic underlying purpose of the social work is met with an active response from the people. This initiative is covered with photographs, video testimonials, feedbacks and reviews from different people in the public; and is carried as their PR activities through various print, online, electronic and other mass media.
Reputed hospitals like Cloud nine, Apollo group, Ruby Hall Clinic, Jehangir Hospital, Aditya Birla Hospital etc., all regularly apply PR initiatives from time to time to remain noticed and become the preferred choice of any treatment for the patients.
Healthcare research institutes like Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, Gennova Biopharma and Panacea Biotech had actively participated in the national health meet with honorable prime minister Narendra Modi. Their contribution to the crucial lifesaving research in vaccine creation and production has helped save the lives of millions of people in India and worldwide. This pharmaceutical and virology research segment has gained momentum during and post-pandemic and was given widespread publicity openly.
The government health department conducts many health drives for spreading awareness in public about various topics of malnutrition in children, women’s health, family planning, male vasectomy, TB awareness, HIV awareness, Alcohol deaddiction, drug abuse prevention, Checkup and vaccination about Hepatitis A, B, C; blood donation drives, Eye donation awareness and voluntary registration, kidney and liver donation registrations and understanding about health issues of senior citizen like Alzheimer disease, Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, prostrate complicate and various types of Cancers etc.
Government PR activities are conducted through many mass media like theatres, hoardings, common areas in government offices and public transport locations. Effective PR is considered to have worked well with the noticeable drop in patients and the frequent surveys conducted by the health department officials. In the rural areas, wall paintings, bus shelters, small hoardings, health camps and cultural events are taken to spread the message.
A press conference is a planned meeting with the press journalists from various media. The hospital management gives a detailed presentation about their new initiatives, new medical facilities, the inauguration of new infrastructure etc. For any press conference, certain norms are generally followed, which are most necessary to get the desired exposure and generate a positive brand image of the medical institution. Formal invitation, press kit, concise and pinpointed presentation, presence of all the important senior management team members for the active question-answer sessions and the social initiative of their objective to be clearly highlighted.
It is most necessary for any PR activity to be successful is to make the press note newsworthy. The newsworthiness of the information depends on the recency, relevancy and the specialty aspect added to the ‘newness quotient’ of the press note. Every PR activity is planned with the professional PR agencies who have the proper network in the media industry, who have the knack for creating and formulating the PR articles and who initiate the release of the press articles in the planned manner.