The Mayo Clinic was recently a target of inaccurate and incomplete reporting by CNN, and while debates of libel, freedom of speech, privacy, and contradictory information will most certainly continue, it is beneficial to examine the response of how Mayo Clinic handled this crisis of scrutiny through social media. Lee Aase with MCSMN wrote “I’m asking your help in correcting the record using the social platforms we all have because of the Social Media Revolution”. Was this a risky move or was it genius?
Within the healthcare sector, millions bring their values to work every day and the art of assessing, preventing, treating and research is practiced. It therefore, stands to reason, that the goal of leveraging of social media in healthcare reaches far beyond vanity analytics; rather understanding who is interacting with whom, segmenting and analyzing conversations for information, and meaningful engagement with stakeholders is the key driver.
Social Media Prepared in Advance
First, it is key to remember that those organizations that have prepared in advance will weather a storm far better and with less damaging impact than those who have not. Mayo Clinic did an excellent job of overriding any hard-wired defensive responses and immediately leveraged their well-developed network. Mayo Clinic has earned the top spot on US News & World Report’s rank of Best Hospitals for the third consecutive year, and consistently dominate social media rankings for sharing best practices and social media strategies.
It is a well understood that building a social media network before needing it, is an imperative preparation for successful crisis communication!
Yes, don’t wait until it rains to build an ark. Add the speed of social media to the mix of any crisis and indeed, it will only take a few seconds to destroy a reputation. After watching this event unfold for days, it is clear that Mayo Clinic is not preparing to fail.
What is also striking about how Mayo Clinic is handling this crisis is that they are not only focused on protecting their brand, they are focused on their values, and executing targeted message mapping with laser focus.
Social Media as Crisis Communication Tool
This interview with Mayo Clinic News Network reporter Alex Gumbel and Dr. Harper, the executive dean for practice, demonstrates the importance of not only creating strong values, but using them as a pillar during time of intense scrutiny.
With all the facts upon overloaded information, Dr. Harper managed to emphasize that Mayo’s values continue to drive the organization and message mapped with three key points:
- “We will always keep the needs of the patient first”.
- “The core part of our Mayo model of care is a team that keeps a patient at the center and all their interests as the highest priority”.
- “We also keep the safety of our employees as the highest priority, and we take it very seriously.”
Even though blind-sided, Mayo Clinic did not pull their communication strategy together on the fly. Comprehensive crisis communication plans are absolutely necessary in the current citizen journalist landscape. Use the pre-crisis phase wisely, do not underestimate the potential negative impact of one incident.
One step in preparing for a crisis that should not be overlooked is creating different scenarios with corresponding message mapping. Role-playing through a scenario with a crisis management team requires participants to often imagine events that have never happened before, the unexpected. Ask yourself, if your organization could manage being attacked by a major news organization? If inaccurate reporting can happen to Mayo Clinic, it can happen to any healthcare institution.
The difference in a successful outcome comes from the power of preparedness because silence is not OK! And remember, in case of doubt, tell the truth!