Before establishing Health Beat, its multiple-award-winning blog, Spectrum Health leaned heavily on traditional marketing channels to reach its audiences. A substantial research initiative led Spectrum’s communicators to understand that what the blog needed was a content marketing component. For taking this mandate and developing the gold standard of health care blogs, Spectrum Health has won first place in the “Blog” category of PR Daily’s Nonprofit PR Awards.
The research included a competitive analysis, internal and external surveys, focus groups and an in-depth content and communications asset audit. In addition to developing the blog as a means of delivering content, the team also developed Health Beat Pro, targeting content to media professionals.
Health Beat was developed to empower readers to make informed decisions by telling compelling, positive stories about real people facing real challenges. Spectrum Health has adopted a newsroom approach to creating and delivering content, with a team that includes a managing editor, a multimedia manager, two photojournalists and a health care journalist; contributions also come from freelancers and marketing/communications staff members.
The most compelling items are shared through weekly, monthly and special-edition e-news to subscribers who are able to tailor their news feeds to suit their interests. Health Beat makes regular appearances in Ragan’s awards programs because of both the quality of the content and the results it achieves.
The blog’s contents reach 15 million people monthly; its social media reach has exceeded 100 million people averaging 700,000 site visits each month. The time spent on stories sometimes reaches as much as 22 minutes. The content also finds its way into the press, while internally it is repurposed across multiple channels.
Congratulations to the team of Cheryl Welch, Jill Seidelman, Chris Clark, Sue Thoms and Taylor Ballek.