With COVID-19 disrupting ways of life around the world, many industries have been thrust into a new space, where unseen opportunities and challenges abide. As the healthcare sector leads in battling the novel virus, public relations efforts in the sector have had to adjust to the new normal.
Noting the global spread of the pandemic, professionals in the healthcare PR space identify unique impacts, opportunities, and challenges that accompany it in the health Comms space. Exploring PR professionals’ responses, a key question, highlights perspectives held by healthcare PR pros. The question and its responses are as follows:
From a healthcare PR perspective, what are the main opportunities and challenges as COVID-19 ravages the world?
David Kyne’s response
Evoke Kyne’s CEO, David Kyne, points out that a major challenge during the pandemic is that there is so much noise that it’s hard for readers to break through. With social media being the go-to source of information, rumors and misinformation have been circulating faster than ever before. As the pandemic ravages the globe, the COVID-19 infodemic has been a thorn in the fresh.
For communicators, it’s imperative to link back to highly credible information sources. Among the credible sources are government and sanctioned healthcare sources like the WHO and the CDC. Grounding messages on reliable and credible data is the new reality. At the same time, delivering messages via credible spokespeople – who are authorities in their respective space – is important for credibility purposes. This can be a challenge for some organizations.
With messages evolving and COVID-19 guidance being fluid, behavioral change communications have a big role to play in the fight against the pandemic. Also, there are opportunities for organizations to join hands to amplify the dissemination of accurate information – including the spreading of rapidly-evolving healthcare guides on issues like mask-wearing and social distancing.
Companies also have an opportunity to adopt innovative and virtual technologies in the fight against COVID-19. By holding virtual conferences via online conferencing tech, companies have an opportunity to reduce the spread of the deadly virus.
Sabrina Gomersall’s response
The head of client services at 90Ten, Sabrina Gomersall, explains that fake news in the age of social media can be as devastating as COVID-19 itself. With the WHO labeling fake news as the “infodemic”, the magnitude of fake stories prompted the WHO to partner with TikTok influencers to curb the “infodemic” problem. With the public looking for information presented in a relatable way, as opposed to the cold facts presented by healthcare professionals, the healthcare PR industry has the opportunity to serve relatable but factual information to fight the pandemic.
Gomersall explains that the Healthcare PR industry prides itself on communicating accurate information and maintaining high standards in spreading life-saving information. Thus, COVID-19 offers the Healthcare PR sector an opportunity to be at the forefront in the fight against misinformation and highlight the importance of factual information in crisis management.
90Ten’s head of client service explains that, in the long-term, Healthcare PR has the opportunity to showcase the importance of brands responding to crises in ways that go beyond their brand’s objective and that connect to larger social purposes. These changes have been spotlighted by the collaboration between industries – through donations of important equipment, medical staff, and resources – to find a solution to the COVID pandemic.
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