From Marketing Pro to PIO: the tools you need for emergency response as a healthcare communications professional

By: Chris Thompson on July 25, 2017 Categories: Corporate Communications, Healthcare
From Marketing Pro To PIO Blog Image

If you work as a communications professional in a healthcare organization, you’ll be familiar with the following scenario. The call comes in the middle of the night, or when you’re on your way to lunch, or when you least expect it. There is an emergency and you are needed immediately.
Hospitals and other medical facilities often must form their own command centers to deal with:

  • Multiple casualty/injury disasters in the community
  • Technical difficulties that impact patient care, such as telephone system failure or electronic medical records unavailable
  • Weather-related issues, such as flooding, freezing and storms that not only may increase the need for medical care, but cause power outages, staffing concerns and supply shortages
  • Security or patient-related incidents
  • Facility-related problems that interrupt daily business, such as broken elevators, leaky roofs or a fire

For these events, your organization is going to need you, and the tools you bring to the table, to deliver the right messaging needed for the community, your patients, the media and even your fellow employees.

From marketing pro to PIO (public information officer)

Many hospitals and medical centers both large and small utilize the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), in which marketing and public relations staff take on the role of Public Information Officer, or PIO (which often comes with a not-so-stylish white vest). HICS is part of the National Incident Management System, created by the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2004 to help government and non-government entities coordinate and have a unified structure during times of crisis.

The command centers set up by the HICS system are often used to handle other hospital-only emergency situations that don’t involve coordinating with other agencies, simply because it is an excellent way to stay organized and focused in a time of crisis.

If you are tapped to be the Public Information Officer, reporting directly to the Incident Commander, there will be many tasks you must undertake during the incident, including:

  • Attending incident briefings for updates, to provide information about communication needs and share what has been already completed
  • Determining who needs to receive messaging on the incident, and when it should be distributed
  • Writing communications, which can include media briefs, social media announcements, web content, employee notifications and even overhead announcements throughout the facility
  • Obtaining approval from incident commander on all communications that are distributed
  • Coordinating all public relations and marketing personnel, assign tasks, and verify all communication receives approval
  • Speaking to the press

Keeping it together

When you have these roles to juggle, having a content marketing tool like Mintent to help you stay organized is essential. Here are five ways Mintent can help during a crisis:

  • Smooth sign offs – You won’t have to chase down the incident commander or team leader every time you need approval on a brief or announcement. With Mintent, you can create workflows with approval steps – and it will automatically notify the next person in line when it’s their turn to review the content.
  • Delegate with ease – the workflow function within Mintent can also help you rally your troops and make assignments with ease in an “all hands on deck” situation. While they are creating, you can check in on their assignment to ensure the messaging is cohesive.
  • Have content, will travel – because Mintent stores your drafts and projects online, you will not have to worry about keeping track of flash drives or accessing your storage servers in a time of crisis. You can log into the tool from any device, including mobile, and bring up your content on the go.
  • Easy distribution – Once your messaging is finalized, you can push it out to your audience directly from the platform. Through Mintent you can create new pages on your web site, publish blog updates and schedule Tweets and Facebook posts. Not having to log into each program individually and post content will save plenty of time in a crisis.
  • Keeping your audience informed – Throughout an incident, your audience, whether your patients, employees or the community, will want continual updates…even if there is nothing new to report. With Mintent, you can make an editorial calendar to remind yourself when new messaging is needed. And you can schedule Tweets and Facebook posts in advance. If the crisis is ongoing, you can schedule social media posts to inform your audience that you are aware of the issue and it is still being addressed. This can go a long way in reducing the number of concerned phone calls from the community.

Another benefit of using the tool for all your marketing needs is you can log in and put all previously scheduled blog posts and social media pushes unrelated to the incident on hold until the situation is resolved so you do not oversaturate your audience with messaging.

Mintent’s content marketing tool can help you and your team be the organized and effective Public Information Officer your organization needs in a time of crisis.