RH Strategic Insights is an interactive multi-part series that digs into today’s key issues and how they are affecting organizations’ PR plans in a constantly evolving communications environment. Led by RH Strategic’s PR pros, these discussions provide high-level insight into the media and the healthcare, technology and policy landscapes.

Watch the first installment of this series, “New World, New Rules, New Plan,” which will dive into the challenges facing the healthcare industry and where PR can make a real difference. Then, contact us to discuss how a custom PR program can help you achieve your 2021 goals.

Key learnings include:

  • What companies can learn from 2020’s crises — a global pandemic, a rapidly deteriorating U.S. economy and civil unrest — and how they can reevaluate their PR approach.
  • How organizations can pivot their strategy to harness major healthcare trends and reach their key audiences.
  • Analysis of the changing media landscape and the healthcare topics we expect to gain traction over the next six months.


RH Strategic Insights: New World, New Rules, New Plan.

Video transcript:

Thanks so much for joining RH Strategics Insights presentation, New World, New Rules, New Plan. My name is Emily Field. I am a senior associate based in the DC office, and I’m also joined by my colleague, Sam Garrard, who is a senior associate based in Seattle. This presentation is really going to illustrate our approach to PR in a new environment. The rules have changed in 2020 and, as a result, brands really need a new plan for communicating.

We’re helping our clients navigate 2020 and the new landscape since the onset of the pandemic and we’re also advising brands on how they should be adapting for the unknown at a time when things are really more uncertain than ever. This presentation is going to provide key insights into the media landscape and the healthcare industry. We really appreciate you joining us today.

Situation Analysis: The New-New Normal of Media

2020 has brought a fraught political landscape and the global coronavirus pandemic, which has really shaken the global economy and created a tremendous civil unrest. This new reality has really forced organizations to rethink their approach to communications and PR in the face of these really rapid societal changes. This new environment really comes with new stakes and different considerations. Without a thoughtful and strategic approach to PR, a company’s message really risks getting lost in the fray. But change really creates opportunity and if a company is swift and creative in their approach to communications, it can really rise to new levels of leadership for the company and, ultimately, bring awareness to really key issues during this time.

What this slide illustrates is that news and media relations should really just be one piece of your overall communication strategy. Attitudes about the trustworthiness of news and integrity of news have changed. What we can see from these slides is that confidence in journalists are really at an all time low, in addition to belief in journalistic standards. The narrative around fake news and the various narratives that have been circulating, it’s really important to recognize that media is one really, really important piece of your communications toolbox but it really is only one way to get your message out there when it comes to your brand and your messaging.

Almost all industries have increased in trust since COVID-19. On the left-hand side, we can see that doctors, nurses, hospitals, all of those have really increased in trust during the onset of a pandemic and over the past six months. And on the right hand side, we can see that news, media and airlines are among the lowest trusted industries currently, which really something new. This is a new shift, a new trend and it’s really something that we need to be aware of in communication strategies as we’re plotting out next steps, when we think about how things are going to be perceived.

The Evolution of Media Consumption

This slide really illustrates that readers are receiving their news in different ways than ever before. They’re receiving it through broadcast, online, cable, social media. These are just some of the ways that readers are getting their information. And so, it’s really important to have a PR partner who understands how to reach these readers through these different channels. Depending upon who your key audience is, it’s really important to leverage the right avenue to reach them.

Newsrooms are Getting Hit

Emotion is a more prevalent driver than ever. Brands are under scrutiny for how they’re impacting all members of society and, at the same time, the appetite for news is greater than ever. But at the same time, news media is getting decimated at a time when it’s needed most. Reporters are stretched extremely thin. Layoffs have been really impacting the industry since the onset of the pandemic with the economic downturn. And so, as a result, reporters are being stretched really thin. They’re being forced to cover more beats than ever before. And so, it’s really important to be aware of that gap when it comes to pitching news media and, ultimately, really using that as one avenue for getting your message out there, but it isn’t the only way to get your communications message out there in your planning.

What are our Clients asking us about Today?

What this slide illustrates is that you’re really not alone in this. We are hearing these questions for our clients who are confronting these types of challenges every single day. We’re helping our clients navigate these questions when their brands and reputation is really on the line. And so, when it comes to breaking through the noise, some of the questions we’re getting are around, “Every time it feels like we’ve adjusted to the new normal in 2020, something changes. What’s next? How do we predict what’s coming down the pike and plan for it with our communication strategy? And how has the news media’s constant focus on breaking news impacting my PR program? Sometimes it can be really hard to break through there. And then when it comes to taking a stand with the social justice movement underway, when should brands really be speaking up publicly and letting their customers and their stakeholders know where they stand on really key issues?” These are just some of the really important questions we’re helping our clients answer.

And then on the other hand, when it comes to leading employees, how do you counsel your CEO on internal communications? How do you communicate change with employees? Maybe you’re standing up an equity program or some other large company initiative that you really want to make sure is communicated in the best way possible. And then when it comes to planning for the unknown, how do you prepare for a crisis? How do you replace the ROI achieved through in-person events usually throughout the year? And ultimately, when it comes to policy change, there’s so much happening in DC currently, how do you kind of keep up or stay ahead of that policy change and, ultimately, help influence some of that? These are just some of the questions we’re helping our clients answer. And with that, I’m going to pass the baton off to Sam.

Up-Level Your Communications Program: Emerging and Evolving Themes

Thanks, Emily. We’ve talked about some of the questions that our clients are now asking. We also work with our clients to provide a framework, a strategic framework, to how we up-level as a communications program, especially this year. We look at a couple of different factors. We look at audience, message, channel and metrics. When it comes to our audience, we think strategically about where our target prospects and clients are now and how that has changed over the last couple of months, both where they are by location but also where they are emotionally and what messages are going to resonate most with them, not just surface level but what are the messages from an equity lens, from an empathy lens that we start to convey in our storytelling. We look at audience and then we’ll also look at message.

We also start to think about channels. Now is the time to turn the dials on marketing channels in a different way. Many organizations might find themselves with some remaining budget from an existing events budget. Now is the time to maybe think about expanding a corporate social responsibility program or investing in paid media, earned media, or maybe a webinar series. It’s time to get creative. And then metrics, it’s important to look at KPIs and make sure that a communications program is still working towards the right goals and that we set goals that then our strategy can map back to. And we work with our clients to think about what those might be.

  • Equity & Access: In addition to a framework around up-leveling a communications program, we’re also looking at the top topics. We have a pulse on the topics that are really going to gain traction over the next six months in the media. Number one, equity and access. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen an elevated social justice movement across this country and that has translated in healthcare, in discussions around how do we improve equity and access to high quality healthcare for all. We’re going to continue to see discussions around how do we address the systemic barriers that prevent patients from receiving quality care, and that will continue to be a discussion in the months to come.
  • Workforce: Second, workforce. Even before COVID, the US was facing a workforce shortage in healthcare. Specifically, when we think about our rapidly growing aging population, we’re facing our caregiver shortage. Stories around both how we address these shortages but also how we continue to support our existing workforce on the front lines will continue to gain headlines.
  • Digital Transformation: Next, digital transformation. It is no secret that we have seen a rapid acceleration in telehealth, wearables and other digital health technology in just the last couple of months. We can expect that from investment announcements, to new creative partnerships, to new solutions, the media got a pulse on this, and they’re going to continue to track some of these transformations that are really helping consumers and patients get the care they need in this new normal.
  • Cost of Care: For cost of care, cost of care will continue to be a hot topic in the media, both in a political lens and also when we’re thinking about business and consumer healthcare. Leaders are looking for innovative ways to improve health outcomes while reducing costs. We’ll continue to see discussions around a debate around Medicare for all, price transparency and other innovative solutions to reducing cost of care.
  • Whole Health: Finally, whole health. The industry has been talking about social determines of health now for a while. Not just clinical health, but also behavioral, social, lifestyle factors that really influence an individual’s health. We can expect, specifically, mental health to continue to rise to the forefront of this whole health discussion, especially around this year when people have… We’ve all faced new challenges this year. And so, media are looking for tips to help consumers work through this time. Solutions that are helpful for people to get care they need. This will continue to be a hot topic.

Key Takeaways

We’ve talked about how the media landscape is changing. We’ve talked through the new questions that our clients are asking and, likely, many communications professionals have asked this year and we presented a framework for how we’re rethinking communications programs with our clients. And then we just went through a couple of topics that we can expect to be in headlines in the next couple of months. Here are just a couple takeaways we hope that you draw from this discussion. Now is the time to revisit your brand’s story. Think about how the stories you’re telling, especially around equity and understanding where your customers are now. Now is also a really exciting time to get creative. Think about new ways to tell your story. Maybe it’s not an event but maybe it’s a video series. Perhaps it’s investing in our media. There is different opportunities now for innovative communication professionals to tell their stories.

About Us

RH Strategic is a full service communications and public relations firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We work with our clients to up-level their communications strategy, whether that’s through earned media, public affairs work, strategic planning. These are the slides that shows a couple of the things that we help our clients work through. We specialize in working with clients that are innovative, that are changing the status quo. That’s what excites us. And so, we hope we encourage you to check us out online or to reach out to us directly at healthcare@rhstrategic.com. We’d love to walk through this deck with you in more detail but even more so, just introduce ourselves and get to know you and your brand.