How to Successfully Navigate Coronavirus' Impact on HealthIT Marketing

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to spread at a rapid pace, our daily lives have shifted in numerous ways. Over the last two weeks in particular, marketers have been faced with many challenges, the response to which can have significant consequences for sales and revenue. Canceled events. A plethora of customer questions. Collaborating remotely (some for the first time). Changing budgets. 

This is an especially unique time for marketers in the healthIT space. In addition to those challenges, their customers need them now more than ever. MedTech marketers are supporting healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis by ensuring they have the technology and data needed to do their jobs effectively. Many healthIT companies are working around the clock to increase access to their solutions, and build new ones to help #flattenthecurve. They’re often providing them for free. And they’re being looked to for answers on regulatory and technology questions.

The other challenge many are now facing is how to best communicate during this health crisis. The content and marketing calendars developed in Q1 clearly aren’t going to fly. Marketers need to adjust their strategies across every industry right now, but healthcare marketers in particular need to strike an important balance between continuing to be seen as a trusted leader, without being seen as overtly promoting their services to health providers during a health crisis. 

Healthcare Marketing During a Global Pandemic

Given the sensitivities, some companies have stayed tight-lipped rather than risk saying the wrong thing. However, it’s important for healthcare companies not to stay silent during this global pandemic. Your stakeholders need to hear from you. 

So how do you continue to position your company as an expert and thought leader without looking like you’re simply capitalizing on a catastrophe? Here are 4 ways to get it right.

1. Be a Resource, Not a Noisemaker

There is so much information out there already about COVID-19. Publications have entire sections and newsletters dedicated to it. Companies are mass emailing updates so often that memes have been made about it. There is no need to simply add to the pile, and if you do, you may get called on it. 

Instead, be a true resource. Give your stakeholders answers to questions they actually have. Some good rules of thumb include:

Send customer and partner emails with relevant, pertinent updates, tips and analyses about how COVID-19 may impact their business and how to protect it – and protect their customers or patients.

Post a bi-weekly blog around COVID-19 pointing to tech or regulatory updates & analyses or other things your customers should know. Of note, live blogs receive the highest traffic of coronavirus readers (41% of traffic to the top 50 pieces), making them an ideal content driver. Any other company blog posts and content should take into account the environment of the day/week, and messaging should be adjusted accordingly.

Create a landing page with COVID-19 resources including quick, insightful blog posts, FAQs, multimedia and other resources they may need. See our client Updox’s landing page for an example.

2. Be a Thought Leader

Pitch coronavirus-related topics that are thoughtful, newsworthy and insightful. Share data that speaks to a trend or answers a question that reporters are talking about – such as how telehealth use is rising and what the long-term impact will be. 

Another way to boost thought leadership is to share insights on what your audience really needs right now, and pitch from that lens. A medical spokesperson is best for this. For example, we recently worked with a client to share tips from a physician on how the community can support doctors during the pandemic, which provided a personal rather than a business perspective. 

3. Be Genuine 

Messaging is key. Be empathetic and sensitive to the situation. Your tone – whether on social, in email or anywhere else – should be genuine, and show that you’re there for your customers, are being a good corporate citizen and are supporting the greater good. 

With that said, don’t be afraid to share the new telehealth platform you just launched or how many new customers you onboarded in the effort to stop this pandemic. Just make sure the messaging is centered around supporting the healthcare community vs. touting your brand. The goodwill you’ll build by doing so will build far more credibility than if you use the typical vanity marketing language.  

4. Read the Room 

The news cycle is changing every day. Your initial marketing calendar doesn’t have to go entirely on pause. Some outlets – particularly trades – are continuing to write about non-coronavirus content very regularly. Again messaging will be key here. Consider alluding to the current environment and softening typical marketing language in all your content. But in general, putting out a customer win or partnership announcement isn’t necessarily a no-no.

Do you need support with PR and marketing plans or strategic communications counsel due to the impact of the coronavirus or otherwise? Reach out to us here and we are happy to help you navigate this situation. You can also check out my colleague Renee’s blog post for some additional tips on marketing during our new normal.

ARPR Health IT

Melissa heads up ARPR's healthIT practice. With a passion for using storytelling to build connections and inspire action, she develops creative campaigns that drive results.

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