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10 Must Have Messaging Strategies for the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

December 4, 2020 | Strategy
Woman getting a vaccine

We’ve researched and wrangled 10 important strategies to keep in mind as you shape your messaging approach for the next phase of coronavirus communication.

How do you communicate your hospital’s vaccination plan to the public? 

The coronavirus vaccine is coming, and your patients want to know about it. Put simply, these may be the most important and anticipated announcements of 2020. But unlike many routine healthcare communications, there will be an extra level of complexity that means messaging must be even more on point and timely. And perhaps most importantly, it must be genuine and reflect the personality of your hospital or academic medical center.

  1. Speak to your Plan – The number one question related to the vaccine seems to be focused on the “when.” Being able to communicate a plan, even if it’s evolving, will build confidence and calm in your communities. Share details on the phased approach to distribution and how you’ll rely on prioritization structure guidelines set forth by the CDC. Explain what that means for your teams, patients and community at large.
  2. Speak to Safety – Despite clearing regulatory requirements and emergency use authorizations, you may find your audiences still anxious about the safety of the vaccine. Reassuring messaging using approachable language based on hard science will be important. Engage trusted providers within your system to deliver the safety message.
  3. Speak to the Effectiveness – Typically vaccines take years to research, develop and test, but scientists have been focused on an effective solution that can help communities as soon as the end of the year. Despite the accelerated timeline, safety has always been paramount. Communicate what people can expect with a vaccine of that caliber and how that will impact their “return to normal.” Set a tone of hope and confidence for the rollout and the long-awaited vaccine.
  4. Speak to your Mission – As a healthcare organization, you’re rooted in service and care, focused on the betterment of your patients and a dedication to wellness. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted frontline healthcare workers across the country. As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, speak truth to your mission and your commitment to healing. Come what may, your mission is steadfast and strong.
  5. Researched – As COVID-19 cases surged in the Spring, and much was unknown about the spread, healthcare systems across the country relied on trusted voices within the global health space. Now is a good time to revisit those experts and cite their findings. The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC can provide authority and power to messages you share.
  6. Local Leaders – While national and global voices are important, don’t forget about a local perspective. Your community’s response to coronavirus has earned you a spotlight and a soapbox. Feature key providers, researchers and administration who have been the local voice throughout 2020. Your patients will appreciate a consistent assessment from a familiar face. Consider partnering with other hometown personalities (elected officials, civic leaders, even competing healthcare systems) to show unity.
  7. Owned Media – Use every opportunity to communicate a clear message and reach as many people as possible. Your owned media channels are a good place to start as the community seeks information. Social media platforms can provide bitesize reminders and reassurances. Consider using call-in information lines, message-on-hold announcements or unconventional placements within your system. To make sure your organization’s urgent announcements are listed at the top of search engine results pages, please revisit How to Put Covid-19 Annoucements on Top of SERP with Structured Data.
  8. Earned Media – The vaccine is wildly newsworthy, so your local news media will be ready for a local perspective. Engage them at every announcement, tailoring b-roll and talking points for their coverage. Take advantage of these relationships to solidify your hospital’s importance in the community and position in healthcare advancements.
  9. Paid Media – Consider using existing placements to spread the news. While paid media may not be necessary after you’ve maximized messaging on owned and earned platforms, strategize contracts and space where it can reinforce your system’s stance and reputation in the COVID-19 response.
  10. Stay Relevant – The rollout will take months, so keep a pulse on your community and the tiers of people who are receiving the vaccine. Maintain significance throughout 2021, explaining the phases of vaccination just as you’ve tracked case counts over the last 8 months. Stay accessible to your patients and confirm your Google listings are updated with the latest operational changes. Be the voice of healing and hope moving into the future.

The vaccine brings with it a sense of optimism your stakeholders are seeking. Just as your hospital, health system or academic medical center will supply the vaccine to the community, you must also inject clarity, education and calm through thoughtful and timely messaging and information strategies.

Struggling to personalize the vaccine messaging to your unique tone of voice? Ten Adams can help propel your organization forward. Let our strategic minds and network of health organizations be your foundation for direction and strategy. End 2020 on a high note with a partner to help you finish this year stronger than ever.

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Written by Jennifer Horton

Jennifer is a strategic problem-solver with 20 years of experience strategizing in for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare systems. She simplifies complex healthcare problems, breaking them down into manageable goals to achieve our clients’ large-scale dreams, all while expertly navigating corporate structures and keeping all players engaged along the way.

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