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Another Hospital PR Case: When Media Relations Go Sour

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Two animated 3D stick figures fencing[Second of two parts] If you have not already done so, please read our previous post, Hospital PR Case Examples: One Bizarre, One Just Crazy about the hospital cyber-attack-for-ransom.

This second case example is a different sort of hospital public relations (and media relations) squabble, between the local newspaper and the local hospital. Nobody wants to get into this sort of arm-wrestling match with the media, but this example provides additional lessons for those of us in hospital and healthcare communications.

Here’s how this story unfolded:

VALDOSTA, GEORGIA: It seems that The Valdosta Daily Times and the South Georgia Medical Center are having an open feud. The respected Columbia Journalism Review described the give and take this way.

“When a small Georgia daily [newspaper] pointed out recently that a local hospital board was apparently violating the state’s open-meetings law, the paper was hoping the board might swiftly change its ways. Instead, the hospital reportedly decided to cancel its advertising, end a subscription arrangement that provided newspapers to patients, and ban paper sales on hospital campuses. In other words, as one reader put it, they ‘took their ball and went home.’”

From an independent perspective, we wonder if there isn’t a better way to address the issues. Cancelling advertising and patient newspaper subscriptions may or may not hurt the Daily Times, (circulation of ~18,400 in an area of ~20,000 households). But we wonder if the back and forth may do more to sour, rather than improve, the situation.

Ongoing, positive public relations programs rely on a professional working relationship with local media outlets. Read more HERE and HERE, and let us know what you think, or what you might have done instead.

We don't yet know the final resolution here. But on the surface, it appears the hospital’s action slams the door to a communications channel with the community service area.

FOR MORE on the topic of hospital public relations, please read: Hospital Public Relations: When Really Nasty News Hits the Fan, and Barbers of Civility: An Unkind Hospital Public Relations Problem That Affects Everything.

If you prefer confidential, one-to-one professional advice about public relations strategies, let’s schedule a PR and marketing consultation. Call me today at 800-656-0907 ext. 801.

Stephen Gregg, MBA

Account Supervisor-Public Relations Strategist

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