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Getting the most out of paid media as COVID-19 evolves

Quick ideas for navigating media in today’s market

There’s no doubt healthcare communicators are feeling the pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare marketing is changing rapidly and getting the messages your community needs to hear and see delivered to them—and quickly—is incredibly important. They are relying on you for a lot more than just quality healthcare. It may be time to pivot and shift your existing paid media spend, even integrating new approaches to get more patients and spark stronger patient retention. Let's take a look at the current media landscape and consider what changes you need to make to reach audiences where they're consuming media NOW.

Increase your streaming TV spend

According to the Nielsen article Streaming Consumption Rises in U.S. Markets with Early Stay-At-Home Orders During COVID-19, people are broadening their media options. Consumers are using streaming subscriptions through internet connected devices or CTV (devices that use a television as a display and connect to internet to access content — devices like Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and Smart TV App).

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Increase your TV spend

Historically, during times of crisis, TV viewing rises. It’s no different in today’s crisis. Nielsen analyzed TV usage during two prior crises: Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the January 2016 blizzard that buried the Mid-Atlantic. Analysis showed an increase in TV viewing by 45% to 56% compared to prior periods during those crises. People were watching movies, news and general programming.

Consider increasing your radio spend

In the Nielsen article, Radio is ‘Comfort Food’ as Media Consumption Rises Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, radio listenership is also increasing. The March 20-22 Custom Nielsen study revealed that 8 in 10 listeners report the same or more time with radio as a result of COVID-19. Like local TV viewership during crises, the Nielsen article explains that for consumers, radio and on-air personalities feel like a trusted connection to the real world. They report that 60% of adult Americans 18 and older, hold radio in high regard and trust it to deliver timely information about the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Stay active in social media, including paid social

Social media engagement is very high right now. It’s a crucial tool as people are using it to stay connected and informed. Maintaining a strong social presence is a great way to reach your consumers. Read more social recommendations from my colleague here.

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Keep newspaper on the table

Newspapers are an essential business and are still open, even in areas where “safer at home” is in action. Newspapers are a trusted source that allow you to get timely information to readers, particularly for our rural communities. Many people don’t have internet in these areas and the paper is their source for news and enjoyment.

How to execute

  • Negotiate lower rates and bonus, no charge spots on TV and radio stations. With a lot of programming cancellations like sporting events, the summer Olympics and non-essential businesses closed for business, stations are sitting on a lot of unsold inventory for this time of year.
  • Know what all outlets are offering. Some media outlets are discounting rates. Use that knowledge to help negotiate with others who may be less inclined to discount their rates.
  • Get creative during safer at home orders. A great way to be seen in the community is to secure on-air call-in interviews with local radio and television stations. Accessibility and availability messages are vital for healthcare providers right now. This is a great way to get those messages out there. Additionally, those on-air interviews can be repurposed on your website and social channels.
  • Be sure to promote your telehealth capabilities. We’ve been singing this tune for a while, but even more so lately: if you don't have telehealth in place, it’s imperative to get it now. Learn more about ideas for applying and marketing telehealth from our Director of Research and Strategy.

As the political season nears and COVID-19 regulations change, media recommendations will also change. If you need support, you can work with us to help find creative solutions for your healthcare marketing challenges. Our access to resources and research allows us to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date recommendations if and when you need them.

Contact us with any questions. Our team is ready to support or help guide you in any way with healthcare strategy consulting and healthcare market research.


Sarah Richmond-Basedow is a Media Strategist at Core Health, Core Creative's specialized healthcare marketing practice.

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