Unless organizations have a thought leadership platform, their social media and media relations efforts are destined to fall on deaf ears.
Shel Israel's recent Forbes article explored the topic of thought leadership and got me thinking. While not a new
concept, thought leadership is important because it helps define why others should care about what you have to say. Israel defines thought leadership
as "someone who looks to the future and sets a course for it that others will follow…[they] look at existing best practices then come up with
One important way to create thought leadership is through content marketing
or brand journalism, which is basically publishing educational material to help promote your organization and its services. Content marketing has long
been a mainstay of B2B public relations, in the forms of developing case studies, bylined articles, white papers, fast-tip videos, webinars, etc., but
it's clear that it has real relevance to the health care industry as well. By publishing their own content, hospitals have an opportunity to educate
people about health issues, new medical procedures, position their physicians as clinical experts and ultimately, help create preference.
A great example of a health system that promotes thought leadership is Virtua, a health system in Marlton, New
Jersey. The system created its own broadcasting network and develops
videos that focus on news, health treatments and wellness. By publishing its own news, Virtua is creating thought leadership while promoting its
clinicians. Three weeks after the launch, it attracted more than 5,000 viewers to the network site. These videos were then shared via the health
system's social media networks.
Another classic platform to express thought leadership is through a corporate blog. Blogs can give executives and clinicians a platform to discuss the
latest health care news, post videos about new procedures, and talk to the patients about satisfaction and latest medical advancements.
Research even shows that 89 percent of journalists source
stories from blogs. However, many hospitals do not have a corporate blog. According to Ed Bennett's blog, Found in Cache, there are 1,229 hospitals engaged in social media, but only 149 have a corporate blog. This
means that hospitals are engaging in social media without the benefit of providing original content that will help position them as healthcare leaders.
Hospitals can engage in content marketing, even if they don't have a corporate blog or broadcasting network-
it's just more difficult
. However, hospitals can still establish thought leadership by strategic use of traditional media stories, bylined articles in trade publications,
infographics, webinars, videos, e-newsletters and SlideShare. The key, though, is to drive people back to the hospital website—and its blog—rather than
other people's websites.
With the many business and clinical experts on staff, hospitals have the opportunity to promote industry leaders from within the organization. By
creating a thought leadership platform and using a content marketing strategy, they can give their social media efforts a real boost.
Written by Jenn Riggle, a version of this blog first appeared