McCormick presents at Hospital Marketing National, urges hospitals to get social

Sociability and relatability “huge” opportunities


Devito/Verdi (New York, NY)

“You don’t advertise a hospital with a ‘MRI for $29.99 THIS WEEKEND ONLY’ special,” Paul McCormick, EVP of Account Management at Devito/Verdi said. McCormick presented last month June 5-7 at the Hospital Marketing National Conference in Atlanta, GA.

His presentation, entitled, “Pillars of an Overall Communications Strategy” discussed the changing landscape of hospital marketing and how Devito/Verdi has strategically used its outsider view in the healthcare arena to plug relatability and sociability into hospitals. The New York-based agency has a history of strong retail marketing, but client work has included quite a number of hospitals in recent years. Mt. Sinai, University of Chicago Medicine, and BayCare are just a few examples.

“In the retail world, you pull an ad if median investment isn’t paying you back 3-1, but we all know that’s not how it works for hospitals,” McCormick explained.

McCormick’s presentation discussed the idea that good hospital communication can be broken down into three main buckets: 1) Influence the Influencers, 2) Direct Consumer Engagement, and 3) Population Health Management. With this framework, McCormick explains that Devito/Verdi avoids a major advertising pitfall, placing the importance of retail marketing over reputation marketing.

In practice, he explained that emphasizing reputation-marketing plays out digitally. “Think about what people do when they first become aware of a new health condition,” he said.

“Their initial reaction is to go straight to the web for research: hospital Facebook pages, WebMD, Yelp reviews, etc.” McCormick continued.

Therefore, hospitals and caregivers must emerge in digital conversations as sharers and providers on social media.  “[As hospital advertisers], we want to engage with patients by sharing helpful content and presenting information to them,” he said.

For example, Devito/Verdi brought publicity to BayCare’s primary stroke centers by tweeting PSAs during May’s Stroke Awareness Month on BayCare’s Twitter page.

“It’s not as much a sell,” McCormick clarifies. But when a hospital does get credit on social media as a provider, this direct consumer engagement pays off just as much as a standard ad.

McCormick goes as far as to say that social media has solidified itself as the ideal platform for hospitals.

“Social media has unique capabilities for facilitating, sharing and displaying information in a way people take seriously,” he said. “It creates an invaluable word-of-mouth reputation that displays both the usefulness and humanness of your hospital system and its relationship to its patients,” McCormick said.

If you’d like to see the full presentation, it is linked below. Bucket 2 about Direct Consumer Engagement begins at 18:11.