Reputation Rehab: Managing Brand Perception

by Kaitlin Gunter, Copywriter - 09/27/17

Reputation Management

In a tech savvy digital space, building a brand that can overcome negative press or social media fails is essential and requires proven strategy and purposeful content.

You can’t directly control every aspect of your organization’s marketing—such as how an employee chooses to represent your brand or negative online reviews—but you can affect the perception your community has about you. Sometimes, that means crafting the right message. Sometimes, it means listening to theirs.

Here are proven ways to address three of the most common healthcare marketing challenges. 

Scenario One: Reversing Outmigration

Your community hospital is losing business to larger organizations. In the past, you’ve relied on your community standing to bring in customers and opted not to roll out a full-fledged marketing campaign. You need to build a solid public relations presence—and soon—with your current resources.

In this outmigration example, you need to revisit core values, vision, and mission before you implement a strategic brand identity and differentiate your organization. Include your preferred voice, style guidelines, and buyer personas—or your ideal fictional consumer, complete with personality preferences and motivations—which takes data and intention.

From here, you’ve gained clarity on who you are, what you stand for, who you’re talking to, and the tone you’re using to effectively communicate. This means you can thoughtfully build brand awareness through a content marketing strategy complete with digital, print, and social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. These channels will manage brand perception over time while keeping you engaged with your consumer base to let them know you’re listening and aware of their needs. With this solid base of support, you’re ready to respond to a potential setback with presence of mind.

Scenario Two: Crisis Management

You’ve encountered recent bad press from an internal mistake or an external public perception mishap, like United Airlines did this spring when they overbooked a flight and removed a consumer using force. United Airlines decided to act defensively at first, only to backtrack later and take full responsibility for the incident. That series of gaffes cost the company dearly in public perception and market value.

Responding to problems your customers have is the first step in connecting with them, and that responsiveness is all the more important when their problem is with you. Don’t just make it right for your customer, make it known that you made it right. Take control of the conversation to reiterate your values. Defend what you stand for, not what the customer is complaining about, otherwise, any apologies or fixes you propose will seem disingenuous. Moving forward, increase your communications and include stories of positive ways you are meeting—and exceeding—customer expectations.

Scenario Three: Shifting Perception

Your hospital has been turning the corner from years of poor patient satisfaction. It’s hired new doctors, purchased new equipment, and made renovations to make the facilities more modern and welcoming. Old perceptions die hard, however, and it’s still known by a large portion of the community as the “bad hospital” in town. How do you make them aware of your hospital’s transformation?

Domino’s Pizza faced a similar conundrum in 2009, after a public relations nightmare in which two employees damaged the company’s reputation with a YouTube video of them contaminating food.

Domino’s turned into the skid with a YouTube video of their own and increased their social media presence. Since then, they’ve continued to refine their brand, owning up to shortcomings and committing to improvement. The negative press of the original video soon turned to coverage of the company’s transformation, and sales shot up.

Sometimes bad publicity is a good opportunity to make your message heard. Rather than pretending that negative perceptions don’t exist, own up to them, then challenge them. Walk through the top five traditional complaints about your institution, acknowledge them as valid, then show off the improvements that directly address those issues.

People complained about unfriendly nursing staff? Talk about the new hires or the beloved shift nurse who was promoted to a higher position and instituted sweeping improvements. Interview her about her philosophy of care and the dignity of patients.

Was the wait time in the emergency room too long? Tout the expansion of the emergency facility, or the new urgent care facility you opened down the street to relieve pressure and help get patients the care they need faster.

Bad perception doesn’t have to be the end of the story; it can be the beginning to a story you tell your audience about how your institution listened to its community, made changes, and made a difference in the lives of patients because of it. However the story begins, it’s always in your hands to finish it.

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