PR challenges facing the care sector

There’s no doubt that the care sector has been among the hardest hit by coronavirus. The very nature of the industry – caring for thousands of vulnerable elderly, ill and disabled people each with complex needs – put it at high risk.

The industry has responded admirably, quickly putting new measures in place to limit the spread of coronavirus within homes, and protect residents as robustly as possible. Despite this, the pandemic has left many areas of the care sector from providers to suppliers facing new and unique communications challenges.

Showcasing innovation

The past twelve months have been a time of immense innovation for technology companies operating within the care sector, as well as care providers themselves.

However, at a time when national and specialist media are understandably focused on reporting the pandemic, infection rates and vaccine progress, how can brands achieve cut through on innovation stories?

Technology companies who have taken innovative and best-in-class approaches to ensure care residents are not only safe but have a continued quality of mental wellbeing should look to an integrated strategy to ensure they reach key audiences. This should include press, multi-channel social media and potentially public affairs, depending on desired audiences and goals.

Working with care providers to showcase technology in action can also boost engagement on innovation stories, demonstrating the real-world impact of tech and enhancing credibility among new audiences.

Giving back to the community, such as in the form of education or actionable insights in webinars, can also prove immensely valuable when building the case for new technology.

Growing share of voice

Within care homes, managers have had to move quickly to adopt new technology during the pandemic. This has not only been to protect their staff and residents from coronavirus and other hazards, but also to keep them engaged and mentally well during restrictions, and to monitor for signs of illness and injury.

The result of this has been a flood of new brands in the sector – specialising in areas such as fall detection and personal safety, infection prevention and control, and mental stimulation and holistic wellness – looking to establish their voice and convert trade audiences to their product or service.

New and established brands alike need to consider the right balance of marketing activities to secure or retain positive share-of-voice in an increasingly congested space.

Simply issuing press releases is not enough to convert knowledgeable trade audiences in the care sector.

The right mix of news stories, expert commentary, thought leadership and campaign activity is essential to achieve cut-through and grow share-of-voice.

Responding to reputational issues

Reputational issues can take many forms and strike at any time, regardless of the pandemic. Recent examples have included care providers hit by poor CQC ratings or death inquests and tech providers criticised for the type and quality of their evidence base.

While varied and naturally unique to the business in question, their impact can be severe if not managed correctly.  The national and health media’s increased focus on the care industry during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns also means that reputational issues facing care providers and care tech brands can escalate further and more rapidly.

Care providers and brands alike should consider building a reputational ‘insurance policy’ into their marketing brief, to ensure a rapid and robust response in the case of the unforeseen. Crisis training can also help your business to put a coherent, actionable plan in place.

Get in touch with the team