Preparing for Ebola: Advice from the Experts

February 17, 2015

By Lisa D. Ellis

Lisa D. Ellis, photoIf an Ebola patient walked into your organization’s emergency department today, would you be ready to handle the communication needs of the situation appropriately? If not, you could be missing out on some valuable opportunities to educate the community and at the same time, to help to promote the good work your hospital is doing.

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

Your clinical staff has spent countless hours preparing for the worst-case scenario, and your administrators have considered the logistics of how to respond in such a situation from every angle. Now it’s equally important that your marketing team is up to speed on ways to effectively handle an array of pressing public information and marketing needs.

By planning ahead for the challenges and responsibilities you could potentially face, you can help things go smoothly and also serve as a valuable conduit of public health information.

Raquel Baldelomar, Founder of Quaintise Medical Marketing in Los Angeles, says that when the first Ebola case that presented in the United States in September of 2014, the first 24 hours was critical in terms of media coverage and managing public perception and concerns. “This means that in the future, a social media team should act within hours if/when the next story hits, not days,” she explains.

Even though heightened fears around an Ebola epidemic in the United States have diminished in the past few months, new, or suspected, Ebola cases are still presenting at hospitals around the country, so you need to be ready for anything.

Baldelomar also says that the quality of your communication is as important as the timing of your response. “You cannot over-communicate during a perceived crisis; make sure your spokespeople and brand are everywhere. The community expects to see you everywhere.” But in order to effectively respond quickly and thoroughly, you need to do a lot of homework in advance so you’ll be on your ‘A game.’

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