A June 2021 poll found that at least seven in 10 American consumers trusted physicians, nurses or pharmacists to do what’s right, with nurses receiving the highest trust score at 79%. That same survey, however, found that roughly two in 10 people, or just 22%, trusted hospital executives. Health insurers don’t fare so well either: just 24% of consumers fully trust their health insurance company,  while 46% say they mostly trust them according to Statista. Fortunately, leveraging the right healthcare PR strategies can help.

Trust begins with credibility—that your target audiences perceive your organization to meet their expectations of what a health system, health insurer or health tech company should be. When it comes to building or improving that credibility (reputation) with your target audiences, a proactive, sustained earned media campaign remains the most efficient and cost-effective way to do so, particularly for a highly regulated industry like healthcare.

At Activate Health, we encourage our clients to utilize healthcare PR strategies that embrace a mix of earned media to educate and persuade target audiences that their organization is the right partner for them. This assortment can include authored or bylined articles, media interviews, speaking engagements and awards or other recognition—the percentage mix will vary depending on each clients’ specific marketing communications’ goals and scope of the PR campaign.

Through channels such as trade news and industry conferences, organizations can build thought leadership and credibility. The value of third-party endorsement (like an article in a respected trade publication) communicates transparency, builds trust and confidence in a brand among customers and prospects. Furthermore, with an integrated PR strategy that supports and complements marketing and advertising efforts, your company’s presence in the media allows for a cohesive, branded experience presented to your key audiences, regardless of where they’re reading or hearing about you.

As you build out your organization’s healthcare PR strategies, consider these best practices for each essential aspect of your PR approach:

Media Interviews

  • Identify your spokesperson or spokespeople—individuals who are comfortable addressing a broad array of industry topics, have credible titles, and speak with authority.
  • If your spokespeople haven’t done so already, consider media training with a healthcare marketing agency skilled in helping to identify potential pitfalls and reporter styles.
  • Empower your spokesperson with the right messaging. It also helps to determine the one message or takeaway that you want to be remembered about your organization and return to that message several times during the interview.
  • Anticipate what questions your spokesperson might get, and practice potential answers, including preparing “sound bites” that can be clearly and accurately captured by the interviewer.
  • Be factual. Always. Cite current statistics or compelling data that support claims shared during interviews.

Bylined Articles/Op-Eds

  • Pre-pitch bylined article ideas to a third-party outlet before writing, whenever possible. Doing so can gauge the publication’s interest in the topic and inform relevant, upcoming deadlines.
  • Before drafting anything, obtain a copy of the publication’s editorial guidelines and conform to them.
  • Unless writing for a peer-reviewed journal, eschew jargon.
  • Don’t be afraid to write on emerging trends or political/social issues that impact healthcare delivery. Seventy-four percent of Americans think companies have a responsibility and an opportunity to be leaders and changemakers given political partisan gridlock, while 72% of employees say CEOs have a responsibility to bring about social change.

 Speaking Engagements

  • Identify a short list of your executives’ areas of strength, then select speaking opportunities that position them as top authorities on one or more of these issues.
  • Be a big fish in a littler pond. Sometimes speaking at a smaller venue that is targeted for your key audiences is better than speaking at a large conference with 40,000 people where your voice can be drowned, or where the mix of people attending forces you to blur your messages.
  • If you join a healthcare association, be sure you have enough time to devote to it—the best speaking engagements often arise due to active involvement on an ongoing basis.


  • Identify and submit to editorial awards by valuable and respected healthcare and business trade outlets such as Modern Healthcare Awards, Healthcare Innovation Awards, Health IT Awards and HIMSS Health Information and Technology Awards.
  • Participate in credible rankings via opportunities from third-party entities like KLAS, JD Power, US News and World Report, and Leapfrog Group.
  • View industry accreditation and re-accreditation processes as a way to showcase your success when it comes to patient safety, patient outcomes and quality of care (rather than an onerous regulatory burden).

Finally, don’t forget to influence the influencers. Influencers are people who affect purchasing decisions Healthcare organizations need to build relationships with these influencers, generally on a one-on-one basis. These individuals include:

  • Industry influencers and bloggers such as HISTalk
  • Peers (board-certification associations)
  • Industry analysts like Accenture, PwC, Forrester and McKinsey
  • Healthcare watchdog entities like the Leapfrog Group, Health Watch USA, Public Health Watchdog, etc.

Once your organization has secured earned media, maximize that coverage and recognition by showcasing it via your own digital channels (like your website and patient portal) and further socialize on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

Developing a comprehensive credibility campaign focused on thought-leadership can be a daunting task. Hiring an experienced healthcare communications agency that offers a dedicated PR team with a proven track record building credibility for healthcare clients can help. To learn more about healthcare PR strategies, best practices for earned, owned and paid media outreach for healthcare organizations, or to have a conversation about your organization’s specific goals, reach out to Activate Health today.