Health news takes center stage: What does this mean for brands?

If we told you a year ago that Dr.  Anthony Fauci would be discussed more than Beyoncé, you probably wouldn’t have believed us. With the world’s eyes firmly on COVID-19, health news has taken center stage, creating a health-literate army that’s paying attention and seeking honest information from all sources: health institutions, government agencies, news outlets, brands and even influencers.  

So what does this mean for your organization? How can the healthcare industry tap into this heightened interest in health conversations among everyday people? We have a few pointers on how to evolve your communication efforts to reach new audiences in an engaging way.

WORDS MATTER

Break through the clutter by speaking to your audience in a way that’s relatable to them. Avoiding medical jargon, which can often be intimidating or confusing, will allow you to tailor your language appropriately, based on your audience’s level of medical knowledge.

A great example of adapting language for a general audience is CNN’s partnership with Sesame Street for their “ABC’s of Covid-19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall.” The organization realized that parents were likely facing challenges in explaining what the pandemic meant to their children. By using familiar faces from Sesame Street, who are known for explaining serious topics in a comforting way, they were able to help adults navigate this discussion with younger audiences while staying informed at the same time.

VOICES MATTER

Influencers can play a powerful role in communication strategies because of the familiarity they have and the trust they have earned from their audience. Using influencers to communicate a message can sometimes be more effective than hearing it from a corporate channel or someone unfamiliar, and sometimes they can be the conduit to an outside expert. 

A great example of this is from March 2020, when health care professionals needed to build trust and capture attention from the public. An unusual combination of experts joined forces to communicate about a complex health issue: NBA Player, Steph Curry hosted an Instagram Live with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Although Curry is not a healthcare expert, his large following (33 million) trusts him, allowing him to increase Dr. Fauci’s credibility and give him access to a new audience who needed to hear his message. 

VISUALS MATTER

Sometimes it’s more effective to show vs. tell. As communicators, it’s important to know when to invest in the right resources to tell the story in a more visual way, rather than relying on words. With the overwhelming data surrounding the pandemic, audiences can easily get lost in information overload. Visuals help pull out the most valuable pieces of information and can engage audiences who may be more visual learners. 

Late last year, The New York Times created a visual journey to show readers how masks provide an important defense against transmission. The content was made to be easily shared on social, providing the opportunity for the outlet to reach beyond the traditional New York Times reader.

Tell us: How are you finding new ways to engage audiences with your health content?