When senior living providers ask us which form of public relations is best suited to their target audience (i.e., traditional or online), we usually answer, “Yes!”
The fact is that both forms have their strengths and advantages, especially when you consider that senior living communities have multiple audiences that include older adults, their adult children and professional referral sources.
Traditional media, such as the newspaper and radio, continue to play a very important role in connecting with senior adults. An increasing number of them, however, are becoming more comfortable with social media as they seek to stay in touch with children and grandchildren who no longer live close by.
Adult children on the other hand view online sources as the “go to” medium for basic information on senior living options. This gives them the opportunity to gain greater insight into the culture, philosophy and “personality” of specific communities being considered.
Traditional PR Methods Remain Relevant and Effective
As a basic staple of a well-conceived, cohesive marketing strategy, public relations activities help to put a human face on your organization by engaging your customers on a more personal level. Traditional PR, such as media releases, TV and radio interviews, customized newsletters, grand openings, open houses and public seminars bring you and your target audience closer together. They continue to serve as effective options for increasing the level of familiarity and comfort with your community, your people, your services and your culture.
Clearly, traditional public relations methods should continue to be an important element of any senior living providers’ business strategy. Done effectively, they increase your brand’s visibility, credibility and appeal in the competitive marketplace.
Online Communications Expand Your Message Reach and Create Personal Connections
Online public relations incorporate various social media components such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, e-newsletters and search engine optimization techniques to build on your traditional PR activities. Social media strategy incorporates positive inbound links using consistently fresh and relevant content to build your audience and actively engage users to drive traffic to your website.
In addition to connecting with your audiences on a more personal level, an engaging social media campaign also serves to expand brand awareness and reinforce your positioning in the competitive marketplace. Social media campaign strategies utilize Google’s organic search ranking algorithm to increase your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). As we’ve reported before, search rank analysts now say, “If you’re not on Page One, you don’t exist!”
Online PR campaigns are also ideal for highlighting your community’s social activities and programming. Current research shows that “an active and vibrant social environment” is now a top driver in the senior living selection process for independent living, assisted living, CCRCs and to some extent, memory care.
Online PR is highly cost-efficient and promotes audience engagement at levels that traditional PR methods do not.
The Best of Both Worlds
Therefore, don’t opt for an “either or” strategy. Instead, combine your traditional and online PR to achieve better overall performance.
Done effectively, PR can create awareness, build credibility, promote thought leadership and enhance your brand reputation via media initiatives and marketing “touch” opportunities, such as grand openings, open houses and more. All of these traditional PR methods easily lend themselves to online applications that:
- Expand the reach of your positive media coverage.
- Create greater personal engagement with your target audiences, including your current residents.
- Bring your community to life via photos, videos, testimonials and RSS feeds.
- Get people talking about and sharing your content.
- Improve your search ranking.
- Extend the information’s shelf life and availability.
Combining traditional methods with online techniques provides a synergy that creates a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.
Take Your Traditional PR to the Next Level
Adrienne Mansfield Straub, Director of Client Services, Traditional & Online Media, says, “Integrating your traditional and online PR strategies enables you to amplify your message and achieve the widest dissemination of the news about your community, programs, service and people. And when you’re sending out your media releases, be sure to include hyperlinks in your text that link back to key sections of your website.”
“Today, traditional PR methods can be easily and inexpensively enhanced when combined with online efforts. It’s extremely important to take an integrated approach to all of your marketing efforts in order to optimize the effectiveness and ROI of your growth strategy.”
“For example, if you have sent a press release about a major public event – such as a grand opening – and it has resulted in an article in your local newspaper or a story on television, don’t stop there! There is so much more that you can do to maximize your coverage that will benefit your community.”
Use Twitter to call attention to it and include a link to the story.
Include the information on your Facebook page. Here you can also include photos, attendee comments, videos, etc.
Use the event as the topic for your next blog.
Talk about it in your online newsletter.
Send the information out on your RSS feed so it is available to all interested parties.
Combining your traditional PR with the latest social media techniques is easy and inexpensive. If you want to get the most value out of your positive news and stories, an integrated approach is the way to go.
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions on the value of an integrated public relations strategy for engaging area prospects, families and sources of influence, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in these areas, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Integrated PR Strategies Strengthen Your Appeal and Help Your Community Grow
If you’re looking for assistance in developing an effective public relations strategy, our award-winning team excels in this area. By working with SageAge, you can plan, implement and publicize your important initiatives that effectively engage your key constituents and enhance the credibility and reputation of your brand in your competitive market.
SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 / firstname.lastname@example.org.