PR consultant tells client: “You should start a blog, it will position you as an expert in your field and add value to your brand.”

Client asks: “Do you have a blog?”

PR consultant: “No, I’m too busy cold calling journalists and spinning bad press.”

Why provide sound advice and devalue it with contradictory actions? The reality is that it is vital to practice what you preach. For those who are not familiar with a technique called ‘content marketing’, it is the ability to build brand loyalty by creating and delivering valuable and relevant content to your target audience.

On Monday, I attended a workshop, which did just that. Step forward Highland Marketing (HM), who bought together marketing professionals looking to gain an insight into delivering a fully integrated PR and marketing campaign for the healthcare sector. Powerful stuff.

In a marketing world often dominated by tweets, likes, shares and dare I say pokes, it was refreshing to be part of an interactive session where people were not separated by pixels, but engaging in good old fashioned face-to-face discussion and debate.

I’m relatively new to the UK healthcare industry and have quickly realised the huge scale of the £130 billion marketplace. Away from reading up on the continuous churn of Department of Health policies covering the NHS, public health and social care, I’ve been trying to get to grips with numerous acronyms, such as PAS, EPR to CSU.

This is where Monday’s workshop was a great help. The market overview provided really put the healthcare industry in context. There are challenges such as increasing costs, reducing budgets and integrating care across acute, primary and community facilities. But there are also opportunities. Growing segments such as mobile technologies, telehealth and clinical portals provide fresh impetus on product development for clinical IT suppliers.

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As I gained more of an understanding of the marketplace, I felt ready to apply some marketing and PR. By the way, I’m now familiar with Patient Administration Systems, Electronic Patient Records, and Commissioning Support Units, (just in case you were wondering).

The HM team emphasised the importance of aligning your marketing strategy with your business objectives. Planning where your organisation will be, not next year but in three or five years time is key to successful growth.

From here, you can dive into the tactical delivery of your chosen strategy. This topic stimulated lively discussions around the room with debate ranging from which events offer best value to exhibit at, how you make the most from your customer/prospect data, to how much time you should commit to social media each week.

The conclusions from all of these debates were simple: every company is different and requires specific marketing and PR activities to suit their needs. Cue client-PR Consultant scenario…

Client: “What publications should I target in the healthcare industry?”

PR Consultant: “Play it safe and send to as many journalists as you can.”

Poor advice, take two. The HM team continued to advise that whether you are launching a new website, planning social media activities or directing a short online video, you need to take a bespoke approach. As we reached the final PowerPoint slide of the morning, the discussion focused on how to demonstrate success and deliver return on investment on marketing and PR campaigns.

I found myself thinking whether this workshop was a success. Did I gain insights to the healthcare IT industry? Yes. Did I make new contacts in healthcare? Yes. Did I pick up useful hints and tips on an integrated marketing and PR campaign? Yes I did. Not just a constructive, practical session, but a fine example of ‘content marketing’. I’ll leave you with a final word from our two friends.

Client: “I’m thinking of running a workshop for my industry peers…”

PR consultant: “Speak to Highland Marketing.”

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