Winning friends, influencing others and improving healthcare communications
On a recent trip home, I found a copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that my great grandmother gave to my great grandfather in 1938. She wrote a note on the inside cover that told my great grandfather she hoped the book would “do him some good.” Little did she know that I would find the book 75 years later and the good it would do for me.
If you’re not familiar with the book, Dale Carnegie wrote it in 1936 after spending many years teaching business courses such as public speaking to help professionals with “the fine art of getting along with people in everyday business and social contracts.” The first few pages outline a study the University of Chicago, the American Association for Adult Education, and the United Y.M.C.A. Schools conducted a few years before the book was written to find out about which topics adults were most interested in learning. The first was health, and the second was in developing skill in human relationships.
I found it interesting that so many years after the study was conducted and all of the societal and technological advancements that have been made, that these topics continue to be of great interest to adults. As I continued reading, it became more and more apparent that many of the principles and topics Carnegie covers are still relevant today in the public relations and marketing professions, especially as it applies to healthcare communications. Below are a few of the things discussed in the first section of the book and tips for applying them as PR and marketing professionals.
- Become a good conversationalist by listening. PR and marketing professionals spend a lot of time talking with clients about targeted messaging to send their audiences based on company goals and objectives, but it is good to be reminded that listening to the audience can help further focus messaging efforts. Whether this listening occurs through social media monitoring, interviewing clients for case studies or talking to them at tradeshows, knowing exactly what the audience wants to hear will take messaging to the next level. Developing an integrated plan to engage and facilitate conversations will be easier when you know what the audience wants to hear.
- Think in terms of the other person’s point of view. Along with listening to what is going on in the industry, communications professionals should put themselves in their audience’s position when considering how and what to communicate. For example, if you’re writing a blog post to help inform busy hospital executives, long, detailed posts may not be well-received. Instead, a few short posts each week will often be more helpful because only the most necessary information will be provided. If you know your audience does not yet have an active presence on social media, a direct mail campaign may be better suited to raising awareness about a company’s tradeshow presence than tweeting about the upcoming show.
- Develop a genuine interest in and appreciate others. After listening to the audience and gaining a better understanding of their perspective, it should be pretty easy to appreciate all of the work they do. After speaking to healthcare professionals in the field every day, it seems that each is busier and more involved than the last. Whether implementing a new electronic health record (EHR) system, preparing for the ICD-10 transition or sorting through the details of the Accountable Care Act, communicating how much everyone’s time and help with a project is appreciated can go a long way. It goes without saying that when working in public relations in a very niche market, building and maintaining relationships is always top-of-mind.
These are only a few of the tips offered in the book—if you’ve read it before and can think of other ways the fundamentals taught can be applied to public relations, marketing and healthcare communications, it would be great to hear your insight. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it—I can guarantee it will probably do you some good.