» Connecting the Power of Writing with the Practice of Medicine

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5 Ways Your Physicians Can Help Build Brand Identity


As a marketer, you already know how important your hospital’s brand identity is. But do your physicians understand how much they can help build your brand?

Here are a few ways to engage your physicians to help build your brand identity:

Treat them like brand ambassadors: If you’re not already, now is the time to make a conscious effort to engage your physicians in the brand identity (and overall marketing) efforts. Remind them how important they are in the marketing process. Physicians can help your hospital differentiate itself with a compelling, consistent and comprehensive brand identity that helps it stand out from the other healthcare organizations in your area fighting to capture consumer attention. Getting buy-in for your hospital’s latest marketing campaign from your physicians and other staff may seem fairly basic, but it’s something that’s too often overlooked. Because they’re on the front lines every day with direct patient contact, physicians are well-positioned to become your top brand ambassadors.

Show them the numbers: Because physicians are fundamentally scientists, they react well to seeing statistics and other numbers, in plain black and white. Show them how your hospital’s recent social media efforts have driven traffic to your website’s “Contact Us” page, for example.

Be specific: Physicians are extremely busy people with limited attention spans for action items outside their normal day-to-day schedules. Be sure to assign them clear tasks with established deadlines. Most physicians are happy to provide points of differentiation for their service line,  but need clear direction on such tasks with a set due date.

Communicate industry insights: Not only should you continually educate your physicians on the latest happenings on your internal marketing campaigns, you should also keep them in-the-know on what’s going on in the wider healthcare marketing industry. Trends like social media marketing or physician blogging may seem like old news to you, but not to your physicians.

Find a common goal: Physicians close the sales loop for your hospital — determining whether or not that patient will continue doing business with your hospital, or even refer others there. Remind your physicians that promoting a positive, consistent brand identity is, in the end, about boosting your bottom line.

Posted by Danielle Quales

10 Ways to Interview Like Oprah


As a healthcare marketer, you’ve probably spent some time interviewing patients for articles, videos, or audio/photo slideshows. When you’re interviewing a patient, the hope is that he or she will feel comfortable enough with you to share emotional details.

Where you do the interview, how you introduce yourself, how you ask questions and whether or not you have water, coffee and tissues on hand are all factors that play a role in enabling your interviewee to share a personal story with a stranger. Here are a few tips on how you can get the best story from your patients:

1. After introducing yourself, thanking the patient for his or her time, and making sure they’re comfortable, ask if some water or would be nice. Everyone likes to be asked if they need something to be more comfortable. If it’s a phone interview, ask if your interviewee can hear you well, and if he or she is in a comfortable, quiet place. These small considerations will help set a warm, caring tone for your interview.

2. After introductions and small talk, ask your patient what he or she would like to get out of the interview. Oprah Winfrey always does this. In an interview Bravo’s Andy Cohen, Winfrey talks about how she pulled off some of her most compelling interviews, including one where she got Whitney Houston to open up about her troubled relationship with Bobby Brown.

3. To start, ask a few light, easy-to-answer background questions. If you find you have something and common, be sure to mention it. That way, the interview will feel more like an exchange (at least at first) and this will get things off on the right foot.

4. Let the patient tell you their story word-for-word in the beginning, without interruptions. Just listen.

5. Once they are done telling their story, look at your notes and see what follow-up questions you have so you can revisit parts of their story and get more details. During the course of the conversation, they are probably going to say something that really makes you think, “Wait. Tell me more about that.”

6. One good question to ask several times is, “How did that make you feel?” or “What did that feel like?” Feel is a good word that usually makes people more comfortable expressing their emotions. While the questions have been edited out of this audio slideshow from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, you can tell that the interviewer asked the mothers interviewed how they feel about their work to create a day camp for children with eosinophilic disorders. Around 2:50, one of the moms tears up as she answers a question.

7. Articulate sympathy for the patient if the story calls for such a reaction. Add in a, “Oh my gosh! Oh, no!” if it seems authentic. Your interviewee will open up more if you allow yourself to have genuine responses.

8. Ask questions in an open-ended way, such as “Tell me about the reaction of your family to your weight loss.”

9. Current and former patients often lead busy lives. Your patient may be coming from work, an appointment or a busy home with or without children in tow. Consider having a light healthy snack like granola bars (including some gluten and nut-free for those with allergies) to offer just in case they’re needed. If you’re interviewing a patient in the hospital, try to book your interview at a non-meal time. Nothing’s worse than cold hospital food.

10. At the end of the interview, thank your interviewee again. Ask if they would like a copy of or link to the finished piece, and be sure to get their email and/or snail mail.


Posted by Sarah Hawkins

5 Ways to Maximize Your Contract Writing Team


Let’s say you’ve made the decision to engage the time and talents of a contract writing team to beef up the content of your website. Now, what? To be sure you maximize your contract resources, keep these tips in mind:

Firm up your site map now. We can’t stress how important it is for you to engage your service line leaders, marketing team and IT support in order to create a highly detailed site map before the writing team comes along. An effective site map should include a listing of all pages, subpages and specific content that should be included on each page. If you don’t have the site map ready for your writers, you run the risk of the writers themselves burning a ton of hours fleshing out the site map — and their time is much better spent on writing.

Gather SME information. Communicate with your subject matter experts (SMEs) in advance to let them know the outside writing team will be contacting them. SMEs are usually busy doctors who don’t have a lot of time to sift through their email and it’s easy to ignore a message from an unfamiliar email address. If you can walk down the hall and chat with Dr. Smith about being a SME for your upcoming writing project or send an introductory email to introduce the writer, it can help keep things moving.

Settle on your brand voice and editorial style. Try to come to an internal agreement on your organization’s brand voice, as well as the editorial style and formatting you would like the writing team to use. Is it “healthcare” or “health care”? It’s up to you.

Be realistic about your internal team. Sure, you probably have a super internal marketing team and service line leaders that would love to help out on the writing that needs done, but you’ve hired a contract writing team for good reason: there simply aren’t enough hours in the day! At the same time, make sure the appropriate internal folks budget several hours each week to tackle edits, provide feedback and answer questions for the contract writers. If not, you run the risk of your writing project getting delaying because the writers are waiting for answers or edits that are impeding them from moving forward on the project.

Review sample pages. Especially when the writing team begins work on a new service line or when a new writer is brought onto the team, we recommend working with the team to review a couple sample pages to make sure everyone is — ahem — on the same page before charging ahead. There will likely be several rounds of reviews between the writing team’s own editor, your marketing department and SMEs, so make sure the content is on track before asking for too many hours out of everyone’s busy schedules.

Posted by Danielle Quales

What Type of Content Audit Is Right For You?


Does the phrase “content audit,” make you want to hide under your desk? Run away and scream? Stress eat all the M&M’s at your desk?

Don’t worry. The idea of doing a content audit for your hospital’s website doesn’t have ruin your day. In fact, a content audit can help make your days easier. A content audit allows you to comprehensively and accurately understand your website better.

All you have to do is pick the content audit that’s right for you. We know that oftentimes, a budget drives breadth and depth of a content audit. But we believe any type of content audit —done well — is going make your website better.

  1. Quantitative audit: Just like it sounds, this is a basic list of all of the content in your digital properties. Use this type of audit when you need to quickly determine how much content you have.
  2. Qualitative audit: Here you perform a more in-depth analysis of all of the writing, multimedia, accuracy and value of the content. Use this type of audit when you need a deeper understanding of how valuable your content is.
  3. Mapping audit: Here you visualize the content in the form of a site tree, but it’s more than just the Information Architecture (IA). You highlight relationships between the pieces of content, allowing you to understand how deeply layered your site is. Use this type of audit when you need to build a case for creating new content or changing something in your IA.
  4. Rolling audit: This is an ongoing, cyclical process that involves choosing one branch of your site in which to begin your audit, fully auditing that branch and then, in turn, auditing the rest of your site branches. Once you reach the branch in which you began your audit, begin again.
  5. Thin slice audit: When you have limited time or budget, audit a few select pages within a site branch to get a “thin slice” view of the content that lives in this section. We don’t recommend this type as a long-term strategy.

Need help with your next content audit? That’s what we’re here for. Email us today to find out more.

Posted by Danielle Quales

How Helpful Is Your Hospital’s Website?


Is your hospital website designed for the patient? If it’s not, they’ll be unhappy.

Need proof? Kentico Software recently released a survey that showed 71 percent of people said their healthcare providers’ website could be more helpful.

The survey also uncovered a list of the top “wish list” items that patients want. Take a look at the top three items on the wish list, along with ideas on how WriterGirl is helping our clients make their websites more helpful.

  • Making “Contact Us” easier. The contact page — with its prominent location in the top site navigation — provides multiple options for contacting Houston Methodist. Patients can use an online form to schedule appointments or call to make an appointment using a local, toll-free or international-friendly phone number. The Texas hospital also provides clear contact information for billing questions and career opportunities.
  • Ease of finding information and getting questions answered. El Camino Hospital’s new website features simple navigation that connects users with answers to their healthcare questions. The website homepage even features estimated ER wait times. This newly redesigned website provides a lot of relevant information, all organized in a structure that makes sense to patients – not just the hospital personnel!
  • Healthcare professional biographies. We worked with Washington, D.C.-based MedStar Health to develop personalized provider biographies for their website. In most cases, we were able to interview the providers to ask for details about their education, experience, clinical expertise and even their personal life. Including provider biographies on a healthcare website is a great way for patients to personally connect with their physician, nurse or midwife.
Posted by Danielle Quales

El Camino Hospital Debuts Dazzling New Website

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Want to see an example of a hospital website that puts the patient first?

Take a look at what’s going on at the Silicon-Valley based El Camino Hospital.

True, we’re a bit biased (we helped write 400+ pages of content and still have more to go), but we think you’ll love how it’s easy-to-use, informative and visually appealing — all at the same time.

Here’s what makes it pop:

  • Responsive design. Catering to a patient population that is tech-savvy and likely to access the site from a smartphone or tablet, the website is fully responsive and adaptive when viewed on any device. And of course, the content is, too.
  • ER wait times on homepage. While this may seem like a small detail, including ER wait times front and center on the homepage provides patients with useful information that can help them avoid surprises when they show up for emergency services at the hospital.
  • Simple, streamlined navigation. Designed with patient needs and questions in mind, all major site branches are easily accessible from the landing page. That means patients spend less time hunting around for information they need.

Ready to redesign your website? Contact us today.

Posted by Danielle Quales

The Perfect Blog Length


Here’s a question we’ve been getting a lot from our clients: How long should our blogs be?

For a while, the standard answer was between 300 and 500 words. But new studies are saying blogs should be upward of 1,500 words. The theory is that if people spend more time reading your blog, your SEO will improve.

But here’s what we think: Length isn’t the only thing that matters when you’re writing a blog. What matters most is writing something people will read.

If you’re reading something and your first thought is, “This is too long,” it means you’re not 100 percent engaged with the post.  If the blog is good, people will read it. If not, they’ll go back to taking quizzes on Buzzfeed.

Let’s stop stressing about SEO, “ideal” word count and what Google tells us we should do. When you’re writing your blog, write it for the reader. Not SEO. If you can get your point across in 50 words, why add an extra 500?

In the spirit of Seth Godin, who is known to write blog posts less than 100 words, we’re going to wrap up this blog now. No matter the length of your blog, here’s what to keep in mind when writing it:

  • Include subheads.
  • Read it aloud.
  • See how it looks on your phone.
  • Make every word count.
  • Ask yourself, “What’s in it for the reader?”

PS: Want some help writing your hospital’s next blog? Email us to learn more about our blogging package.

Posted by Jessica Levco

3 Innovative Instagram Posts From Hospitals


Here’s a stat to think about: There’s more than 300 million monthly active users on Instagram.

Or to put it another way: More people are using Instagram than Twitter.

We love seeing hospitals staying active on this social media platform. Here are a few ideas to inspire your account:

  • Houston Methodist (@housetonmethodist) “We Noticed You” highlights an exceptional staff member with a photo and quote from a patient showing how great they are. What a nice way to honor staff members who’ve gone above and beyond, as well as to show the community how they’re an outstanding healthcare organization.
  • Baptist Health of Florida (@baptisthealthsf) Family Fit Fest — an ongoing health and fitness initiative that Baptist Health sponsors — includes a weekly healthy eating challenge. For this, an Instagram post contains a collage of three healthy ingredients. It challenges families to create a meal using these ingredients and then, share their photos of the creative, healthy meal.
  • Nebraska Medical Center (@nebraskamed)  Nebraska Medical uses their Instagram as a major component in their fundraising campaigns. They share patient stories to inspire donations and make celebratory posts when certain fundraising milestones are met.

If your healthcare system isn’t on Instagram yet, what are you waiting on? We’d love to see the ingenious ways you can make use of this powerful, image-based social media platform.

Posted by Danielle Quales

3 Hospitals That Virtually Connect Patients with Loved Ones


We’ve all been there — a loved one is currently in the hospital, but work, school, childcare or other obligations prevent us from visiting that person. How do we show that we’re thinking about them, even when we’re unable to visit? Our three clients have found a creative solution to that dilemma:

  • Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health – As a service available for any current inpatient at Riley Hospital, a loved one can complete a simple online form and an eCard greeting will be sent to the patient. The eCard service is offered during weekdays.
  • Baptist Health of Kentucky – Send any patient who is currently in the Emergency Room or receiving outpatient surgery or diagnostic testing an eCard, which will be delivered by a volunteer within 24 hours, Monday through Friday.
  • Broward Health of Florida – Choose a personalized image and send an eCard to anyone currently in a Broward Health facility.

Best of all, eCard services are free to the patient’s friends and family, as they are delivered by volunteers at most healthcare facilities. What a great way to show someone you care and are thinking about them, when you aren’t actually able to visit the hospital.

Posted by Danielle Quales

6 Ways to Recruit Top-Notch Employees to Your Company


My goal as the CEO of WriterGirl is to build a company where I would want to work. I want to attract the best talent to our team. Through the years, I’ve learned how to hire a talented, engaging staff that shows up each day, ready to do their best. Here’s how:

Trust your staff

This year, I’m offering my staff something that’s throwing them for a loop: unlimited vacation. Truly. I don’t care how many days they take off. I’m not counting. Taking a week off to go to Rome? Why not make it two? Really. As long as everything is taken care of before they go, I say, bon voyage! I want my employees to enjoy their life, have some fun and then, when they’re ready — come back.

“Slow to hire, quick to fire”

That’s always been my motto. When I hire someone to work at WriterGirl, he or she is on a three-month trial program. That way, we can see if it’s a good fit for both of us. If it doesn’t seem like it’s working out — it’s better to cut off the relationship sooner, rather than later.

Offer affordable health insurance

As a small business owner, I’m not legally obligated to offer my employees health insurance. Especially with the Affordable Care Act, many small business owners are letting employees find their own health insurance through the marketplace. But I didn’t want to do that.

That’s because even though health insurance is a big cost for us, it pays off in the long-term. If I’m recruiting an employee from a bigger company who offers health insurance, I don’t want that future employee to feel like they are taking a “risk” for coming here. I want to remove the barriers to working for a small business.

Keep staff engaged with training

We know healthcare moves fast. We want to make sure our employees are kept up-to-date with the latest trends. That’s why we send our staff to conferences or pay for them to attend webinars. And with our WriterGirl Academy, we’re training each of our contractors (Associates) on the best practices of healthcare communications.

Invest internally

We spend the majority of our time doing work for clients. But sometimes, you’ve got to do something for yourself. Last year, we hired a social media manager and traffic to our website has nearly doubled. This year, we’re going to launch a new website and branding campaign. Investments like these show employees that you care about your brand and where it’s going.

Be bold and have fun!

If you’ve ever seen our staff at a healthcare conference, we’re always the ones out having the most fun. Whether we’re on the dance floor or chatting up people who stop by our booth, you can just tell we’re having a good time. I want to hire people who know how to get their work done — and have a great time doing it. And most important: I want my employees to enjoy each other. When I’m looking at candidates, I’m not just looking at their resume — I’m looking to see how their personality will mesh with ours.

Are you interested in joining our team? Find out more.

Posted by Christy Pretzinger, President & CEO