Healthcare content marketing has lots of challenges.
For me, the most significant one has always been being a former English major who knows nothing about healthcare being tasked to write about – you guessed it – healthcare. The subject matter can often be complex and maybe even a little daunting to the average reader.
I’ll admit that a couple of years ago, when I was told that a new client I’d be working with was going to be a hospice and palliative care provider, I legitimately had no real idea what hospice actually was. Two years later, after writing endless amounts of copy and blogs about things like COPD, the relationship between palliative care and chemo, and pap smears for seniors, I’d pretty much call myself an expert on the subject. And an overall better writer because of the experience.
(Shameless plug: I think the fact that this particular project was noted as one of the best palliative care blogs of 2017 would agree with that.)
Here are some things I’ve learned along the way about communicating with this industry, as an industry outsider.
Know your audience.
This honestly goes for writing for about anything, but is especially true in healthcare. Because you are often writing about complex subjects, you need to be aware of what your audience will be able to – or even needs to – understand. To know this, you have to know who they are.
For example, many times with our hospice client the target audience will be healthcare professionals – doctors and nurses who act as referral sources and drive business to services like palliative and hospice. In these cases, language doesn’t need to be so explicit and topics tend to be geared toward supporting them professionally.
Other times, we are talking with consumers. These are potential patients and families of patients who would require hospice and/or palliative services. With them, it is important to explain things carefully and explore topics that will inform them exactly what hospice is.
Interview, interview, interview.
Maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to what a specific drug does, but the doctors who prescribe it sure do. Don’t be afraid to get the professionals from your client’s organization on the phone and interview them about it. Act like a journalist. Ask them if you can record the conversation and pull quotes from it to put in your content.
Once you’ve got your quotes, use them. You don’t need to use a ton of your own commentary, just walk the interviewee’s words through the blog. Let them do the talking and do some translating if you need to.
Plain language > industry jargon.Illustration by D. Fletcher for CloudTweaks.com
Filling your content with complicated healthcare lingo and medical terms is going to make your writing hard to read, let alone understand.
This goes back to the last point about translation. If it’s difficult for you, the writer, to understand without researching or speaking to a professional, it’s probably going to be the same for your readers. Simplify your language at all possible points.
Talk about people, often.
This should be easy for any decent writer. You’re a storyteller, so look for opportunities to tell stories rather than just talking about all of that boring technical stuff.
Not only does this give a good break from the technical stuff for your audience, but it’s just another way to simplify your content as well as make it more personal and relatable. Talk about a doctor within the organization who had a breakthrough, a patient who had a special experience, or a charity initiative that speaks to a their values.
Be patient with feedback.Google Docs: The ultimate feedback tool.
If you are sensitive or unwilling to accept constructive criticism, I’ve got some bad news:
This probably isn’t for you.
You’re going to need to run your content through lots of revisions rounds and get it approved by people in the field who can immediately sniff out any BS. There shouldn’t be BS in the first place, but if there is, you need to immediately understand that their feedback is meant to correct that.
In fact, even if getting feedback from industry folks is not a standard practice you already have in place, ask for it anyway. Always send your work to the people you interviewed to get their thoughts before publishing. It’s going to result in a better finished product.
Work with a great team.
Always important. Remember that you can’t do everything. In the blog I pointed to in my introduction that details our experience working on a “best palliative care blog of 2017,” you’ll find that is true. We wouldn’t be able to write such great content that reaches thousands of people without the support of our account managers and ads managers and partners in PR, SEO, and branding.
Look at that. Now you’re an expert too! Wow.
Stay tuned all month long as we continue to explore the fascinating world of content marketing in the healthcare industry on the one and only ChatterBlast blog.