Campaign Spotlight: Rural Hospital Stretches Budget, Boosts Image

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , November 4, 2009

Click to view larger version.PeaceHealth Siuslaw Region, a 21-bed critical access hospital in Florence, OR, focused its mission on community commitment and support. But after reviewing the results of its 2005 community image survey, an alarm sounded for the organization's leadership. The report showed that perceived quality, advancement, access, communication, and physician competence were dropping fast.

So PeaceHealth launched an image-boosting community relations campaign, which won the hospital the small hospital best in show award in this year's HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards.

"As a rural healthcare system, improving our community image while remaining within our restricted marketing budget loomed as a formidable challenge fraught with visions of defeat," marketers wrote in the award entry narrative. "But with clear goals and defined outcomes, we were able to strategically achieve significant community image enhancement utilizing in-house resources and multiple media channels to reinforce overarching messaging of caregiver competence and compassion."

Marketers focused on telling PeaceHealth's story and their emphasis on connecting with patients. The campaign utilized radio, newspaper, direct mail newsletters, and cable TV. They also stretched the small amount of marketing dollars available by negotiating special deals with local newspapers and by using TV-spot audio files as radio spots.

The 2008 community image survey confirmed the campaign's success: Nearly 80% of indicators showed significant improvement.

"The ROI was well-defined and I liked the fact that they had established metrics based on a previous image survey," one judge wrote of the campaign.

The judges also praised the simple yet effective creative and the focus on community, saying the campaign succeed in educating the community and drawing in patients.

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