Strategy consulting: Communication strategy beyond the media release – NHI media forums for Mediclinic
Rather than a one-sided news statement directed at the media, Stone prefers media forums to engage with the media. A media forum allows for the interactive exchange of ideas and enables the media to address any burning questions they may have on the topic in question. This approach goes a long way in mobilising the media effectively.
Mediclinic Southern Africa represents the southern African operations of Mediclinic International, one of the largest private hospital groups in the world, listed on the JSE. Mediclinic Southern Africa has almost 7 200 beds in 52 multi-disciplinary hospitals in South Africa and Namibia.
The challenge at hand
Since 2010, Stone has annually compiled integrated communication strategies for Mediclinic and assisted with strategic counsel, implementation of a range of communication activities across the various communication and marketing disciplines and helped with ad hoc communication projects. Based on the value that Stone added as a communication partner over the past three years, Mediclinic approached Stone to assist with the management and coordination of three media forums during 2011. The first media forum launched Mediclinic’s rebrand and positioned its strong paternal approach to healthcare through the adoption of the Science of Care message, communicated through Expertise You Can Trust. The second media forum responded to Government’s publishing of the National Health Insurance (NHI) policy and conveyed Mediclinic’s willingness to collaborate with Government and its commitment to healthcare that benefits all South Africans. The third media forum served to leverage Mediclinic’s CSI Values Programme and to announce its partnership with the Department of Health and Social Development to perform 60 tonsillectomies on wait-listed patients from Steve Biko Academic Hospital. The procedures took place at a Mediclinic’s facility.
Stone’s approach to meeting the need
Stone arranged and managed the full roll out of all three media forums for Mediclinic Southern Africa in a consultative manner, involving their communication department in each step of the process and keeping them up to date on the progress and development of events. In all cases, Stone first compiled briefing notes to ensure that the scope of the project was well understood and that the planning was aligned with the particular strategic objectives of each event.
On every occasion, Stone developed an updated a relevant media list that comprised all the latest key journalists in the healthcare space, then wrote and sent each one of them a personal invite. Stone telephonically followed up every invite to ensure maximum attendance. A list of confirmed attendees was sent to Mediclinic in advance to inform the panel of spokespeople. Stone also coordinated interviews with Mediclinic spokespeople for media members who were not able to attend the events.
Stone furthermore planned the format of the events in advance to ensure that it would not simply be an announcement, but rather and extensive interactive engagement between Mediclinic and the media. Stone also distributed a news release to all relevant media members, who could not attend these events. During the NHI forum, a temporary mobi website allowed further real-time engagement with media members, who wanted to ask questions, but could not attend the event. A cocktail lunch followed every event and provided further interaction opportunities.
At every media forum, the Stone team coordinated the flow of the event throughout – from ensuring correct venue layout in advance, making provision for parking for the media and meeting and greeting the media, to ensuring that news statements and fact sheets were handed out and that a point of contact was provided to the media for post-event information queries, photos or interviews.
Results achieved and value added for Mediclinic Southern Africa
All the media forums that Stone arranged for Mediclinic were well attended by key members of the print, online and broadcast media.
A series of articles in major publications, as well as radio interviews amounted to extensive media exposure. The media effectively communicated the strategic messages of each event, due mainly to the fact that they were able to engage with Mediclinic and other key spokespeople, could ask more questions and were provided with news statements and fact sheets in advance.
“Willem Eksteen, founder of Stone, has strong business acumen and a broad understanding of business strategy and fundamental business processes. He is a strong strategist with the required understanding and networks to deliver strong media relations programmes. He always maintains professionalism and interacts easily at the highest executive level. He is a hard working person, trustworthy and focused on outstanding delivery by him and his team” – Tertia Kruger, Corporate Communication Manager, Mediclinic Southern Africa