Hospitals that use celebrities for marketing purposes maximize the impact of celebrity visits by:
Word of mouth. Child life specialists at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta help children adjust to the psychological effects of their stay—the staff uses these connections to determine which celebrities would make for an exciting visit.
Connecting with local companies. Establishing a relationship with a department store or local business can also help to draw celebrity attention to a hospital. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has a long-standing relationship with Macys and Rooms to Go. Both of which encourage celebrities and spokespeople to visit the hospital.
Enhancing security. Any hospital looking to bring in a celebrity with media entourage needs to be prepared for some of the negative effects. During flu season, Children's Hospital of LA does not have as many visits in order to keep infections to a minimum. Also, in order to keep paparazzi and major disturbances away, some hospitals do not release information of the VIP's identity until after the visit.
"Usually we don't announce it until after the fact ---we'll give [a] heads up media advisory [to] give them an opportunity to take pictures," says Hedlund. "We can't announce it in-house because they'll get bombarded."
Both Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Children's Hospital of LA have security teams who are alerted the day of a visit.
Increasing Interactivity of a visit. Some celeb visits may only last a couple of hours, but some hospitals have found ways to market the experience to a larger audience over an extended period of time.
Children’s Hospital LA is opening a new tower in July and is using Lakers player Pau Gasol to promote the expansion. The idea originally started as a marketing campaign, but then transformed into an interactive video game, similar to where’s Waldo, which uses images of Pau hiding in different spots of the hospital’s new wing.