LVHN Receives National Recognition for Crisis Communications
BY KATIE CAVENDER
Think back to March 11, 2020 – the day a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. What did you do to protect yourself and your family? Most people were hungry for more information and searching the internet to find answers to all their questions. What is the coronavirus? What should I do if someone in my family becomes sick? Should I wear a face mask?
On the other end of those Google searches were the communication teams of health networks across the country trying to provide timely answers about the virus, care and updates about their community’s health. Lehigh Valley Health Network’s communications not only met the community’s needs, they earned national recognition from PR Daily as Content Team of the Year and from PR News CSR for crisis communications.
"It takes collaboration between many teams to respond to a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Brian Nester, DO, MBA, LVHN President and CEO. “The LVHN marketing and public affairs team rose to the challenge. Every step of the way they kept our community informed about the coronavirus, virtual care and testing, all while reassuring them that LVHN was their trusted partner in health. To say that these awards are well deserved is an understatement.”
Communicating during the first 100 days of the pandemic
Quickly, LVHN responded to the crisis by reinventing virtual care and setting up dedicated COVID-19 testing centers. The communications team distributed this critical information while easing fears and uncertainty. Here are the steps LVHN took to keep our community up to date:
Set the stage – In just one day, LVHN created the community’s online hub for LVHN COVID-19 preparedness and care and transformed the health network’s news blog into a redesigned #LVHNCOVIDSTRONG blog for COVID-19 news, health tips and encouraging stories. On social media, the team encouraged content submissions and usage of the hashtag #LVHNCOVIDSTRONG to communicate resilience.
Educated about the virus and health – Community members learned about COVID-19 symptoms, how to stay healthy and what to do when they became sick. LVHN encouraged the community "Don't Put Your Health on Hold" through animated videos, infographics and quote graphics. Using emails, blog posts, social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), ads, letters, news releases and other methods, information was shared throughout the day (and night, if necessary).
Informed about LVHN services and announcements – Bright red graphics with the headline “Stop and Read” conveyed the importance of our public service announcements. Red messages later turned green to share reopenings and safe care during recovery. Next, LVHN created webpages and social posts about how we provide safe care, the latest statistics about COVID-19 at LVHN and how to support LVHN’s fight against the virus.
Told powerful stories – A team member was always there to capture inspiring moments on camera, tell moving stories or share community member photos and videos. LVHN captured the celebrations when COVID-19 patients were discharged and reunited with loved ones and positioned each video to tell a unique story (with captions). In fact, we were among the first in the nation to capture such celebration. LVHN celebrated heroes by broadcasting celebratory parades via Facebook Live and profiled them in a behind-the-scenes series called Voices From the Front Lines.
Built comradery – The team implemented engaging social campaigns, such as #ShaveAgainstCOVID, to inspire our community to join our heroes in shaving (for safe N-95 mask usage) and post their images with the hashtag. LVHN encouraged our audiences to change their social avatars – first, to a branded stay home graphic and later to stay safe. Through a video series, Coffee with Arielle, a social worker gave tips and encouragement to stay strong over coffee chat.
Remained prepared to pivot quickly – LVHN not only stayed up to date on updates from the CDC, the team analyzed social, web and blog data to determine what content was needed moving forward. They shared information in a variety of ways to appeal to different audiences, including infographics.
Data showed that LVHN’s efforts worked, and that people were listening:
LVHN.org and blog searches nearly doubled.
LVHN social media accounts had nearly 1 million engagements (likes, comments and shares).
LVHN-owned websites ranked No. 1 in Google for 210 search terms, some above CDC.
“I just want to thank you for all the positive Facebook updates, hard work, dedication, preparedness and overall amazing work your hospital, staff and public relations people are doing! You deserve the highest of praise – you truly have gone above and beyond,” said a community member through the LVHN.org feedback form.
Not done yet
The pandemic isn’t over, and this team is continuing to provide information related to COVID-19, new strains and vaccines. Here are some helpful links to keep you in the know.