Crises happen. In health care, it’s inevitable. So, the best preparation is to have a plan.
But, most health-care organizations are so busy providing care and delivering services, that very, very few have prepared communications plans in anticipation of a crisis. And when the crisis hits, it sucks every ounce of time away from daily operations and consumes leadership’s every thought.
Crises come in big packages and small ones. They can last a day or months. They can also alter an organization’s reputation for good and for bad.
A Simple Case Study:
Infectious diseases run rampant in health-care organizations, but when a particularly worrisome flu strain began popping up across the country, doctors and hospitals prepared for how to treat their patients.
While the flu was making headlines, little did anyone expect that the first occurrence in a local community would be among staff at the hospital. Suddenly, news crews were broadcasting live outside the hospital. Inquiries were flooding into hospital leaders from state officials, employees and the media.
The hospital’s Public Affairs department was tasked with managing the flow of communications about the outbreak to their community, patients, staff and the media. Yet, it was essential that the department continue with the projects currently being worked on in support of the hospital’s various programs and services.
Wisely, the hospital’s Public Affairs leadership sought assistance from StoreyManseau, LLC. The company was asked to provide a strategic communications plan for the crisis, along with supporting the department with development of press briefings/releases, fact sheets, video production and other communiqués about the outbreak for both internal and external audiences.
The strategic communications plan was broken into two pieces – immediate needs and future needs – with an eye toward preparing for the next crisis so that tools would already then be in place. Subsequent development of a social media communications strategy, which was marginally helpful for the immediate crisis, allowed the hospital to begin to build a following so that future needs for urgent communications could utilize these tools.
As the crisis subsided, leadership reviewed the activities and put together a plan for future events.