By Harvey Kart and Daniel Casciato
Two years ago, we came to the realization that Western Pennsylvania Hospital News had become irrelevant. Many of you went away, wary of seeing the same old stories issue after issue. We could have folded like other trade publications.
Instead, Hospital News came up with a new strategy. I took the time to contact advertisers and healthcare organizations to learn how we can improve.
We listened to you. So we made changes.
Today, we feature more relevant topics that could benefit your organization, particularly business-related topics such as accounting, management, finance and legal. We also just don’t cover the hospital industry exclusively—we cover the whole continuum of care. We’ve broadened our reach to not only include healthcare professionals, physicians, and nurses, but hospital executives and department heads, insurance providers, attorneys and accountants, home care and nursing home administrators, healthcare students, university and allied health school professionals as well as suppliers of products and services to the healthcare arena.
We’ve expanded the reach of our authors. Experts from all over the country are now penning bylined articles. Also, a new social media column and a monthly section profiling the creative healthcare professionals among us were introduced in the past year.
The final piece of the puzzle was launching our revamped website at www.wphospitalnews.com and delving into social media. When you go to our website, you’ll see an abundance of articles and news from the healthcare industry around the region. When you go to our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages, you’ll see that we publish several messages per day to cast a wider net to make more people aware of each of you are doing in this region.
The result of our new strategy is that Hospital News reaches more readers than ever—40,000+ in print and 5,000+ on the web. Collectively, among the managerial and editorial staff, our social media connections are approaching 7,000.
As you can see, Hospital News has become relevant, both in print and online. We don’t think of Hospital News as it used to be. Hopefully you don’t either. Once again, we’re now known as the other business publication in town—which we have everyone in the marketplace to thank. As a result of our efforts over the past two years, we’re in a position to say that your messages are now able to get out through the traditional newspaper plus these other channels. More people are seeing your messages about your services and products.
But we didn’t wait until the beginning of the year to make these new changes, or waited until a new fiscal season began. We started implementing these changes immediately. We didn’t wait.
As a result of reinventing ourselves, we also launched two new digital publications, Pittsburgh Better Times and Grand Strand Boomers. Pittsburgh Better Times highlights and profiles people who are divorced, separated, or widowed in a positive way and inspires others as they continue on with their lives. We feature educational and informative articles, as well as enriching and empowering stories about life, love, and leaps of faith.
Grand Strand Boomers focuses on the baby boomers who live, work and play in my favorite vacation destination, the Grand Strand region of South Carolina. Better Times has about 3,500 monthly website visitors, while Grand Strand, only three months old, is seeing 2,000 hits per month. Through a combination of our online platform and social media, we are reaching two distinct niche audiences, helping to further expand our brand.
Can you afford to wait to alter your business strategies?
I make several dozen phone calls a day to potential marketing partners and I hear many people say that they want to wait until the beginning of the year to become involved with Hospital News. I also ask about their social media initiatives. Again, people say they’re waiting until the time is right. Some even refuse to participate in social media because they’re afraid their customers may begin to badmouth them and they don’t want the negative publicity.
If you have a business and you have customers, chances are your customers are already active in social media. If they want to say something negative about your business, they will. And if you’re not active in social media, then you won’t get a chance to respond and react. If those comments about your business on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even YouTube go unchecked, you’ll hurt your business and lose out on potential customers.
If your customers are posting nice things about your business, you want to be able to react to that as well. If nothing else, you can simply write back, “Thank you. I appreciate the kind words.” In turn, that person who took the time to say something nice about your business feels heard and appreciated. As a result, they’re more likely to refer other people to you as well.
I understand that the economy has been bad and that’s why many businesses are hesitant to try new things, like social media, or re-strategize. When there’s a hurricane, people board up their businesses and hunker down. At some point, however, you have to remove those boards.
Things won’t change by waiting it out. Take those boards down now. Otherwise, it could be too late.
At the very least, we strongly encourage you to get involved in social media. Social media is not going away. It will continue to evolve. Take a look at our social media channels and see what we’re doing. Social media was critical in our transformation. It can be in yours too.
Many of our advertisers have been leveraging our social media channels to promote their messages. They see the immense value of using our platform as a bulletin board to share information with one another.
But see for yourself.
If you’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and you’re trying to expand your contacts, please invite me and Dan to connect with you through these channels.
Finally, be sure to check out our YouTube channel and check out our video on how social media enhanced our brand.