How to Achieve Healthcare Celebrity Status

2020 has magnified several societal and clinical issues, bolstering some industry sectors while threatening others. The challenges of a global pandemic spotlighted just how quickly healthcare companies need to mobilize to solve complex problems to minimize lasting damage to the population, economy and global outlook—as well as the rising influence that healthcare leaders have on public policy and the way the public interacts with the economy.

As a result, today’s scientists and global health officials have become celebrities. New data shows a significant shift in perception towards healthcare executives, including record trust in the institution of healthcare. Take CDC’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, or the State Department’s Dr. Deborah Birx as examples—who have become household names for their leadership during such uncertain times. Healthcare company CEOs are seeing similarly high trust levels.

As a global population, we’re leaning in to science and the scientific community more than ever before—representing a critical inflection point for healthcare communicators and marketers.

How can healthcare communicators adjust their strategies to meet the moment?

Healthcare executives looking to bolster their influence must have a deep understanding of what the current climate demands—most importantly, trust. Trust is paramount, and an important part of building and owning healthcare marketing strategies.

This has never been more true for APCO’s clients, which include some of the world’s largest and most diverse healthcare companies, who effectively deliver on two main components of trust:

  1. Ethics: working to improve society at large (e.g. health insurer delivering enhanced access to coronavirus care, including testing)
    • Question to ask: is your organization motivated to serve others’ interests as well as its own?
  2. Competence: delivering on promises (e.g. coronavirus vaccine development)
    • Question to ask: can your organization technically deliver on promises and innovate?

When delivered with clarity and credibility, these trust-building components will allow healthcare companies to engage audiences on a human level by connecting products and services to mission and company values—even among sub-sectors such as insurance and pharma, which have historically lagged in consumer trust.

Trust is fleeting—it’s essential to move quickly

While trust in healthcare leaders may be at an all-time high, it’s important to remember how quickly and easily it can be lost. Managing trust decay, or the tendency for trust to decline over time, needs to be carefully considered in any marketing strategy. Trust is best bolstered and protected from decay by emphasizing ethical drivers during the trust-building period, highlighting executive voices and reaching audiences through trusted channels.

Ensuring that the message reaches the right audience at the right time requires a deep understanding of the stakeholder landscape, and where key decision makers consume information. The market and the consumer are both primed for direction from strong healthcare leadership.

Highlighting executive voices as the epicenter of trust

Executive voices are becoming the epicenter of trust, especially within the healthcare sector. Audiences are increasingly seeking health-related content from trusted experts in the industry. An advanced healthcare marketing strategy means amplifying purpose, producing robust thought leadership content that meets the needs of the community and harnessing the power of trust.

In 2020 and beyond, healthcare marketers should challenge themselves to think beyond impressions and conversions to create engaging, dynamic thought leadership content that amplifies purpose for deeper levels of engagement. Properly conveying a clear and consistent message across multiple channels—both brand and executive channels—leads to greater prominence, trust and a solid positioning for future work.

New opportunities for executive thought leadership

Now is the time for healthcare brands and their executives to build on existing trust, strengthen audience relationships and expand reach through state-of-the-art digital communication tools that bolster executive thought leadership. We’re seeing this trend reflected in the new offerings of various social media platforms and advertisers, which are prioritizing content vehicles and advertising formats that let marketers build cultural relevance and align audiences’ passion points to drive impact with reach and relevance.

Tips for getting started with executive voices:

  1. Hold conversations with internal experts to identify topics that position the brand/executive as the convener of the conversation
  2. Start by involving existing, active voices in brand marketing messages (vs. developing new voices from scratch)
  3. Consider the latest best practices on creating dynamic, digital-optimized content that amplifies purpose messaging
  4. Think outside the box when it comes to thought leadership vehicles. Move beyond bylines and company blog posts—research new opportunities, including the latest paid and organic digital formats available (e.g. LinkedIn Pulse articles or Twitter Thought Leaders Live Q&A)
  5. Focus on driving engagement with receptive, high-intent audiences using paid media targeting (quality over quantity)
  6. Engage with audiences in safe and trusted environments, where they are already actively seeking knowledge about their industry (i.e. LinkedIn), to foster a higher quality dialogue
  7. Develop a cross-promotion strategy that amplifies executive voices on brand channels to maximize reach, and creates cohesion between the executive and brand channels

While we live in a complex world, we are connected by a shared interest in the betterment and preservation of mankind, a global economy and the need to feel safe in a complex world. Now more than ever, healthcare leadership is called upon to serve as trusted advocates for the public, highly specialized executives for their companies and thought leaders for their industry. Never has there been a need for consistent and clear messaging, a strong knowledge exchange and the right partners to achieve shared goals.