Best Brand Journalism or Content Marketing Campaign

‘Health Beat’ serves as a shining example of brand journalism in health care

Spectrum Health’s content portal used social media to attract readers and keep them viewing its stories.

Health Beat - Logo -

It seems almost unfair: If Spectrum Health enters a communication competition, other entrants most often might as well save the entry fee. This time around, Spectrum’s publication Health Beat has won first place in the “Brand Journalism/Content Marketing” category of Ragan’s 2016 Nonprofit PR Awards.

Health Beat, which started as a fairly simple content portal, has evolved to include a welcome series, several weekly email publications, monthly digests, a Facebook page, and special edition microsites (such as a Heart Special Edition and a Cancer Special Edition). All of Spectrum Health’s service lines are represented in Health Beat, which is coordinated by a managing editor who ensures the site is filled with consumer-friendly content that focuses on patient stories, provider expertise and Spectrum’s values. 

Photojournalism is a big part of the reporting, which also includes videos, infographics, and other visual elements. (The staff also includes a multimedia manager and a full-time photojournalist.)  The content is so effective that Spectrum’s Public Relations department frequently repurposes it in the form of media pitches. 

As a result, Spectrum is perceived as an expert in the industry, especially by the patients and families it serves. The content has drawn more than half a million unique visitors in less than a year who share the content some 21,000 times each month. Almost half of the traffic to Health Beat comes from social media, much of it thanks to content shared by visitors. Equally telling is the amount of time visitors spend with the content: Sixteen minutes on each story (compared to three minutes and 40 seconds readers spend, on average, with newspaper stories). 

We offer our congratulations (yet again) to Cheryl Welch, Jill Seidelman, Chris Clark, Sue Thoms and Diane Benson.


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