The Role of Storytelling in Healthcare Public Relations

The role of storytelling

In the healthcare industry, stale marketing strategies simply won’t cut it. Instead, companies need to focus on making lasting connections with potential and current patients in order to maintain a strong client base.

Fortunately, there’s an effective healthcare PR strategy to help you accomplish just that: storytelling. Let’s dive deeper into the ways that telling stories can help your healthcare business thrive.

Create a Compelling Narrative

Think of your healthcare public relations efforts as a story. When you tell that story, customers will get a better idea of what your brand is all about. Instead of simply listing the services you offer, you’ll be painting a picture of how those services impact real people. This allows customers to be drawn in by the story.

Now, a story has a number of key elements, including characters, setting, conflict, and a resolution. How can you utilize those elements when talking about a healthcare company’s services? Here’s an example:

  • Characters: Your story could focus on a couple who have had trouble conceiving. These characters can be introduced by name and described briefly with details like their ages or occupations.
  • Setting: Put these characters in settings that help to illustrate the story. Maybe they’re in their home where they hope to welcome children one day. They could also be shown in a doctor’s office getting advice from a medical professional.
  • Conflict: Lay out the challenges this couple faces. They’ve been trying to conceive for years with no luck. Other doctors have not been able to provide the help they need.
  • Resolution: This is where your healthcare company becomes the hero of the story. Describe how the couple was finally able to get the help they needed and have a baby, which is the ultimate happy ending to the narrative.

In this example, it’s easy to visualize the couple’s journey. Because each step of the narrative is clear and compelling, customers will be pulled into the story.

Forge Emotional Connections with Customers

Doctor storytelling
Doctor storytelling

Besides coming up with a great story, it’s important to think about how that narrative will connect with customers. Ideally, your potential and current patients will see this public relations outreach campaign and find the story not only interesting but also relatable. To make that connection with customers, it’s important to focus on emotion in your storytelling efforts.

Healthcare today is more personal than ever. Patients have nearly endless options for seeking medical and wellness services, and they’re looking for someone who will really understand them and their personal health goals.

When you forge an emotional connection through healthcare PR strategies, you’ll stand out from other brands that are focused purely on service offerings and statistics.

While it’s great to list top rankings for your facility or successful outcomes for patients, it’s also important to emphasize the personal care and attention each patient gets when they come to you for their healthcare needs.

This type of emotion-based marketing campaign is better able to attract patients because it creates a sense of confidence in your brand.

In order to determine which emotions are the right ones to link to your brand, consider the image you want to project. Some questions you may want to ask when working with healthcare public relations agencies are:

  • How do I want customers to feel when they think of my brand?
  • Which emotions best represent my brand?
  • What types of themes do I want to include in my brand strategy?

For a wellness company, for example, it might be best to emphasize a feeling of calm or peacefulness. A healthcare brand focused on physical therapy may emphasize strength and self-confidence.

A hospital focused on cancer care may want to project compassion, gentleness, and hope. Tailoring the emotional impact of your PR strategy is essential to reaching out to potential customers and maintaining a positive relationship with current customers.

Put a Face on Your PR Strategy

Visual Healthcare PR Strategy.
Connect your PR message with an image that promotes a healthy, happy lifestyle.

In today’s world, with constant access to screens, visual storytelling is more important than ever before. So, when you’re coming up with a healthcare PR strategy, it’s critical to consider how that narrative will be presented visually.

One of the best ways to put a face on your marketing campaign is to use real patients and healthcare providers to build a more personal relationship with your target audience. The tradition of using models or actors for a marketing campaign simply isn’t effective when it comes to healthcare.

Customers respond to seeing normal people who look, speak, and act like them when it comes to making healthcare decisions. They want to be able to see themselves in the story, especially when it comes to something as intimate as their health.

For that reason, many PR agencies will recommend a campaign that includes several different individual healthcare journeys featuring a diverse array of patients.

As for the healthcare professionals you use in your PR strategy, don’t assume you only need to feature award-winning doctors or those with the most experience.

While it’s great to tout these accolades, patients today are aware that their experience at most healthcare facilities includes just as much (if not more) time spent with support staff members, including nurses, counsellors, receptionists, and more.

All of these people play a role in the patient experience at your healthcare facility, so don’t be afraid to feature them in your story as well.

Need inspiration for how to feature the faces in your story? Here are some ideas:

  • Create brochures featuring real patient stories with photos.
  • Feature actual healthcare providers from your company in advertisements.
  • Release a video series showcasing personal interviews with patients and staff.
  • Utilize social media platforms to feature patient stories.
  • Host tours of your facility where doctors and real patients are on hand to answer questions.

Why Stories Work

Whether you’re featuring doctors in an ad campaign or showcasing patient experiences on your brand’s Instagram stories, there are so many ways to integrate effective stories into your healthcare PR strategy.

As professional Storytelling Consultant and Trainer Geoffrey Berwind tell Forbes, “Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others, our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people.”

If you’re looking to rejuvenate your healthcare brand or connect with more potential customers, it’s time to figure out what emotional story you want to share. After all, a good story is at the heart of every successful healthcare journey.

Image source: Freepik Premium

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