What have we learned about COVID-19 marketing and communications since the pandemic began? A LOT. I know this for a fact because I’ve talked to more than 30 experts and influencers in my popular interview series “What Did You Learn?”

I began this series in mid-2020. In each 15- to 20-minute episode, I talk with content marketers and digital strategy experts about their COVID-19 experience — and how we can all learn from it.

In the first season, the marketers and communicators I talked with revealed insights like:

  • How to use a top-down method to communicate clearly and support both staff and patients
  • How to develop a creative rhythm when the world feels upside down
  • Why emotion needs to be a central part of marketing strategies
  • The importance of fighting disinformation

Now I’ve begun season 2, and there’s still so much to uncover. But before I get too far ahead of myself, here’s your opportunity to catch up on any previous episodes you missed.

(Psst … “What Did You Learn” is also available as a podcast. Take a listen or find it anywhere you download podcasts.)

Ep. 23 – Rose Glenn of Michigan Medicine: Don’t just inform — appreciate

“We were so fast and furious with getting the facts out and responding to all of the changes that it took us a little time to say, hey, we need to provide inspiration, appreciation and recognition every day.”

That’s one of the major lessons Rose Glenn, chief communications and marketing officer at Michigan Medicine, learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests this past summer. In this episode, Rose shares her marketing insights from 2020, as well as what she plans to continue moving forward.

Ep. 24 – John Marzano of Jam3: Keep it real and factual

In the middle of a pandemic, how does a hospital or physician’s office establish authority and trust? With factual, evidence-based information.

As John Marzano, principal at Jam3 Strategic Marketing & PR, says, “If I’m trusting you, if you’re my local provider already, give me the information that’s going to help me make informed decisions.”

Ep. 25 – Mike McCauley of Hackensack Meridian Health: Care for your team

Leaders: Take care of your team members. This compassion is more important than ever as we continue to grapple with new waves of COVID-19.

“Make sure you’re working with them to keep their tanks full, and as you’re building teams, think about bringing in talent that’s more MarCom,” says Mike McCauley, VP of marketing and communications at Hackensack Meridian Health. “In the end, it’s going to help the bench strength of your team because you’ll know you can reach out to and rely on them.”

Ep. 26 – Courtney Doyle of Sentara Healthcare: Roll with the punches

“Once you think you’ve changed enough, you still need to change and adapt.”

The healthcare marketers who aren’t married to “this is how we’ve always done it” — those who’ve been flexible — are the ones who’ve been most successful during COVID-19.

They do not suffer from paralysis by analysis. They listen and adapt.

This is one of many learnings from Courtney Doyle, director of customer development and marketing at Sentara Healthcare, during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more of her insights.

Ep. 27 – Jen O’Meara of Eruptr: Keep. It. Short.

“Keep the message simple,” says Jen O’Meara, director of digital strategy at Eruptr.  “Now isn’t the time to be verbose and write long-winded messages or social content. Get to the point. Speak to what people are thinking about.”

With the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out, don’t underestimate your audience. People are smart. Make it easy for them to find out what they need to do, where they need to go and how to make an appointment, so they can get it done.

Ep. 28 – Jonathan Bryant of SiteStaff Chat: Choose the path of caring

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 was like a fork in the road for many businesses. They had to choose between their current path and the path of going above and beyond for customers in a time of need.

SiteStaff Chat chose the latter.

“We just need to make sure that we’re doing everything we genuinely can to be there for everybody,” says Jonathan Bryant, director of product development for SiteStaff Chat. “It’s not about what we gain; it’s about being a part of the solution.”

Which path did you choose in 2020?

Ep. 29 – Chris Bevelo of Revive Health: No response IS a response

What did healthcare marketer Chris Bevelo tell his clients at Revive Health during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020?

“You’re sending a message when you don’t send a message at this moment in time. You may not be expected to stand out, but people notice when you don’t acknowledge it at all.”

It’s true: The COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movements taught healthcare communicators (and marketers in general) lessons we should’ve known all along. But hindsight is 20/20, and we can use our learnings to improve. Join me. Let’s do better.

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