Keep it simple
Just when we thought an unsettled year was behind us, in rolls 2017 with an extremely heated debate over a so-called NHS ‘humanitarian crisis’. Though just two simple words were used there, in the right context and through the right platform, they become extremely powerful.
With one very simple message, the British Red Cross, which made the statement, successfully put itself at the heart of a wide-reaching debate and back-footed nearly every other stakeholder at the same time – a content coup d’état.
In a sector such as healthcare, where the issues are extremely complex, being able to communicate simply and with a compelling narrative reaps rewards.
I predict, for 2017, there will be several trends to support that. Storytelling techniques such as media-rich content, video and imagery will grow into some of the most powerful methods for public sector communication, especially in the digital space.
We can also expect the patient-centric approach to catering championed by the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) to grow in strength and be more thoroughly embraced by suppliers.
Patient power, enabled by social media and greater access to information through the internet, will help drive communication strategy as brands seek ways to engage with a more informed patient base.
‘Show don’t tell’ will remain a prominent communication tool. We will see the emergence of brands and professionals reaching out and engaging through open forums, inspiration channels, and bespoke platforms for sharing and learning.
Digital will retain its crown as the hero of communications, online reputation controls are more necessary than ever and digital content will need to be optimised to appear where your customers can find it.
Suppliers can do a lot to raise their profile by combining ‘being useful’ and appearing at the point of relevance.
I suspect we may also see the beginnings of the 2018 NHS 70th anniversary celebrations. During this period, there’s an opportunity for suppliers to evoke nostalgia, pride and heritage. Future-gazing into the NHS for the next 70 years will also provide a PR opportunity to demonstrate supplier’s innovation and progression.
Initiatives such as CQUIN (commissioning for quality and innovation) will drive changes to purchasing in NHS staff dining. There is an opportunity here for suppliers to create competitor ‘stand-out’ by responding with compelling solutions and clearly demonstrating how they can help caterers meet these challenges.
Insight, data and analytics will continue to be the bedrock for securing critical funding and supporting initiatives such as UIFSM (universal infant free school meals).
Working with our client the HCA, we have helped iit produce a state of the nation report, detailing the catering landscape within the NHS. The findings of which will no doubt help all vested stakeholders to progress the delivery of better and nutritious food.
While we are future-gazing, new product development will once again be critical in 2017. As the sugar tax continues to influence strategy, we can expect to see the emergence of new products launched to capitalise on the ‘better for you’ market.
Like healthcare communications, the free-from market is complex, and those that use simple, relevant claims across all marketing have a greater chance of success.