Texas Oncology faced a singular challenge: Reaching residents of Houston affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey to let them know it was opening its doors to all displaced cancer patients and caregivers, regardless of who their care provider was. It efforts have earned Texas Oncology first place in the “Crisis/Issues Management Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 Health Care PR and Marketing Awards.
Although the organization’s top priority was ensuring patient safety and enabling treatments to continue, communication was also a vital issue during a period in which many of the standard channels were unavailable or audiences were unable to access them. Working with PR firm Fleishman Hillard, Texas Oncology adopted a multipronged approach to ensure word got out.
As it became clear the storm was coming and would wreak considerable havoc, the organization distributed materials in English and Spanish to health care practices along the coast featuring evacuation tips that would help patients prepare to receive care at a new clinic. Some patients relocated from their homes; others went to Texas Oncology facilities outside the storm zone and across the state.
Media relations helped amplify the story through the massive storm-related coverage; outreach to journalists produced local, national and trade coverage featuring physicians and patients, and helped establish new relationships with news outlets, patients and other key audiences. The team also took advantage of its social channels, using Facebook and Twitter updates to provide information like clinic openings and closures. Texas Oncology also partnered with community and support organizations to extend its reach.
The coordinated strategy resulted in more than 48 million media impressions. Thirty-seven organizations and cancer advocates shared the group’s messages.
Congratulations to Texas Oncology for coming through a challenging time.