How a health system’s brand journalism site nearly doubles traffic yearly

ParentSavvy.com doesn’t have any health-system branding, yet it attracts new patients and publicity for Nebraska Methodist Health System at a record rate. Here are its secrets.

About four years ago, Nebraska Methodist Health System opened a specialty women’s hospital in Omaha.

Although the hospital delivers about 4,700 babies a year—that’s more than 10 newborns a day—Methodist Health wasn’t retaining as many of those babies as patients as it had hoped.

“There is a lot of competition in pediatrics and family medicine,” says Sue Klein, manager of interactive strategy and production services at Nebraska Methodist Health System. “We wanted to be sure, as the leader in having births in the area … that we were retaining as many of those young patients and families into our primary care system as possible.”

That’s why Klein and her team created ParentSavvy.com, Methodist Health System’s brand journalism site, which educates families on parenting and children’s health. One of ParentSavvy’s primary goals is to encourage new parents to choose a Methodist Health pediatrician.

ParentSavvy, however, has almost no Methodist Health branding.

How can a website with no hospital logo, links or even colors bring in more patients (and fly with senior leaders)? It follows a simple formula:

1. Lead with credibility

The only places you will see mention of Methodist Health System on ParentSavvy is on the site’s About page and in articles in which Methodist Health doctors are quoted.

Klein and her team want ParentSavvy to lead with credibility—not with the Methodist Health brand. They want people to come to ParentSavvy because they have questions, need helpful advice and want local information. “By coming there, they begin to discover that the expert they’re getting this advice from is from Methodist,” Klein explains.

ParentSavvy gets about 250,000 visitors a year and has grown 90 percent year over year, Klein says. She credits that growth to the site’s focus on local content and credible answers.

2. Show off your experts

If you aren’t going to plaster your logo all over the website, you have to mention your brand somewhere. ParentSavvy does so through its content.

ParentSavvy publishes 30 to 40 articles a month, and Methodist’s doctors and experts write or contribute to almost all of them. Doctors even directly answer readers’ questions in the “Ask an Expert” column. Readers can submit questions about anything—the most recent batch covered teething, measles and potty training—and Methodist doctors provide the answers. Each answer page features the doctor’s name, photo and a link to the doctor’s profile on the Methodist Health website.

“Ask an Expert” helps readers get a feel for what it would be like to have that person as a doctor. By visiting the doctor’s profile, readers can learn more about the doctor and even request an appointment.

Running high-quality content directly from doctors has also attracted attention from local news media outlets. Omaha Family Magazine, KETV (Omaha’s ABC affiliate station) and various Omaha newspapers frequently republish ParentSavvy’s content with links back to ParentSavvy. KETV created a section on its website specifically for family health information, and it runs a lot of content from ParentSavvy.

“It’s like the ultimate brand journalism opportunity,” Klein says. “We get the credibility of the local news organization and they have come to us and said, ‘We want the credible health information you can provide to us.'”

KETV will give ParentSavvy topics it wants to cover, and ParentSavvy will send articles on those topics. “It takes the guesswork out of public relations,” says Tim Thompson, chief account executive of Corporate Three Design and part of the ParentSavvy team. “Our hope is this will then get syndicated through the Hearst enterprise and get picked up on other news websites.”

3. Find content partners

Along with attracting potential patients and journalists, ParentSavvy’s strong content has caught the eye of local business owners.

“It’s becoming known in the community as the hub of family organizations in Omaha,” Klein says about ParentSavvy. Organizations such as Omaha Children’s Museum, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Omaha’s minor league baseball team) and Fontenelle Forest (a local nature center) have approached ParentSavvy to bring family-oriented activities and news to readers through its content.

For example, someone from Fontenelle Forest will write an article about an event going on at the nature center. When readers register for the event, both Fontenelle Forest and ParentSavvy get those readers’ email addresses.

Frequently, many organizations will work together around a similar topic. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers might have a peanut-free night at the ballpark. ParentSavvy will run an article on allergies by a doctor or allergist, and the nutrition department from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln will come up with peanut-free snack recipes. All organizations then mention one another in their content.

Beyond the promotional benefits, partnerships are a way for ParentSavvy to bring useful information to the Omaha community.

“Instead of just saying, ‘Here’s my logo. See you later,’ this is a real win-win,” Klein explains. “They get their forest exposed to a younger audience. We at ParentSavvy get to offer something of great educational value under our name to the community.”

(Image via)

COMMENT

Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.