Sign Language: Waiting is Good ‘Cause You’re Not Going to Die

By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist

happy holidays baby stockingIs your marketing message always clear or just confused?

Happy baby pictures are a staple in hospital public relations. Virtually everyone gets the warm Happy Holidays message of images of newborns tucked snuggly into red and white “stockings” at MemorialCare’s Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, Long Beach, CA.

The images are season-appropriate and attention-getting PR messages—the kind of thing the news media and the public love. It’s hard to miss with pictures like these.

baby xmas stockings

But not all sign language (and pictures) translates perfectly. Consider the following examples. Good? Not-so-good?

Waiting is good…

A mixed-message sign that we’ve seen in various forms is the “Waiting is good…” sign from an Emergency Department. On an intellectual level, it pleads for understanding about patients with a greater need, and waiting in the ER.

Toy t-rex on desk holding a "waiting is good' sign

We fear that other people in need—those who have their own medical issues and are still waiting to be treated in an Emergency Room—may not be understanding of the system or hospital routine that makes them wait. What do you think about this sign?

Is this message (held by a fearsome T-rex) for the benefit of the patient or for the benefit of the staff? Would having this sign in your ER help or hurt your hospital message or reputation?

Whose parking is it anyway?

Convenient patient and visitor parking at most hospitals have largely eliminated the public irritation of “doctor parking” seeming to have the highest priority. How do you think the general public reacts to “doctor parking only” placards?

No doubt these make sense…to someone.

Temporary signs are often well intended, but the meaning is lost on an unaware general public. Frankly, we can’t explain these signs, but maybe they make sense to someone.

confusion signsFor marketing, these illustrations remind us to consider how everyone or anyone might interpret what’s posted, and if the intended message is clear to all.

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Kathy Gaughran

Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success
In her career, Kathy has helped over 4,000 clients all over North America achieve their growth goals. As an award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy has been involved in both the high-level strategies required for long-term sustainability, plus the tactical execution used to accomplish the day-to-day successes. Kathy’s clients include practices with annual revenues well over $10 million and with annual marketing budgets up to $900,000. In addition, Kathy is an accomplished speaker, appearing at countless national, local and state healthcare associations. Kathy is a member of the American Marketing Association and The Direct Marketing Association.



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