3 reasons why blogging scares hospital communicators

Only 149 hospitals in the U.S. have blogs. Yikes!

One of the best ways to create leadership and develop a national reputation is to develop an external blog. Yet only 149 of the nation’s more than 5,700 registered hospitals have a corporate blog.

This is a big issue because some community hospitals are now interested in building national reputation.

Why? Because the health care landscape has changed. Today, hospitals are positioning themselves for mergers and acquisitions, joining accountable care organizations (ACOs) and negotiating rates with health insurers. They suddenly care about what people say about them outside their community.

A corporate blog gives hospitals a voice beyond promoting community events and marketing service lines. It also serves as a platform for hospital executives to talk about healthcare issues, discuss what they’re “doing right” and set them apart from other community hospitals.

Hospital blogs will also help drive more traffic to the hospital’s website and improve their website’s search engine optimization (SEO). The same way that hospitals serve as the economic engines of their communities, blogs can serve as the engine for hospital websites. According to the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors, they do this by providing fresh content that draws people to the site and ultimately, engages them.

With all these positive results, why are hospital marketers afraid?

Blogs are time intensive: Probably the biggest reason hospitals shy from launching external blogs is lack of time. Hospital marketing departments are already short on staff, and maintaining and developing blog content is yet one more job on their to-do list.

They require taking risks: Hospitals are historically risk-averse. Writing a blog and putting news into perspective requires hospital executives to be comfortable taking a stand and possibly saying something that can be seen as controversial.

They require executive buy-in: There is a misconception that a corporate blog needs to written by the hospital’s CEO, like the one written by Paul Levy, the former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Yet hospital blogs don’t all have to look alike. There are successful hospital blogs that step outside of the box and use photos, videos and bold colors to engage the audience, such as Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Seattle Mama Doc or Boston Children’s Hospital’s Thriving blog.

However, even if hospitals are afraid to make the long-term commitment required to develop their own blog, they can still have a blog strategy. For example, they may develop and place content on major health blogs that already have established audiences, such as Hospital Impact, The Healthcare Blog and KevinMD. This way they’re establishing themselves as thought leaders, without the intense work of maintaining their own blog.

With so few hospitals blogging, there’s a real opportunity for your hospital to be ahead of the curve and establish itself as a thought leader.

RELATED: Learn how to tell your health care organization’s greatest stories to your most important audiences. Attend the only one-day summit specifically for health care communicators.

A version of this blog originally appeared here and was written by Jenn Riggle.

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