3 critical PR skills that all healthcare professionals must have today

by | Mar 2, 2020 | Public Relations

As one of the fastest-growing industries on the market, the healthcare industry is among the biggest consumers of public relations services. PR practitioners are tasked with managing issues surrounding the industry itself as well as institutions inside it. Healthcare is also a sensitive issue, which makes managing publications and doing media monitoring more important.

In accordance with the modern PR approach, everyone in a healthcare institution is an ambassador that can perform PR-related tasks. Gone are the days of relying on a small PR team to do everything; today, anyone in the company, especially leaders in their respective fields, must know how to handle media questions and manage issues.

If you are pursuing, for example, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, knowing how to do PR work is equally important. Early in the course—and later when you assume a new role as a nurse educator or nurse leader—you will find that some skills that are invaluable to PR professionals are just as invaluable to you. We are going to review the top three PR skills you need to master in this article.

Writing

Writing is one of the most neglected skills in public relations, but it is also one of the most important. You cannot be a successful PR professional if you don’t know how to write in a specific, targeted, and pleasant way. Writing is also an invaluable skill to have as you pursue your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

When taking a DNP course online from top universities like Walsh University, for example, knowing how to write effectively gives you an advantage over fellow students. You can complete assignments faster and earn better grades. You can convey important messages and key points without having to waste hours trying to write them.

Sharpening your writing skill is something that can be done easily. There are a number of steps you can take to get started immediately:

  • Read more. Reading helps widen your horizon and lets you pick up different writing styles in an enjoyable way. The more you read, the simpler your way of thinking will be when writing your pieces. Reading also helps you understand the rules of writing in different situations, including how to best write format pieces.
  • Write more. Reading helps you broaden your horizon, but the best way to really sharpen your skill is by practicing more. Write more often. Allocate at least 10 to 15 minutes every day for writing. You don’t have to write anything specific; the act of writing alone is enough to trigger your brain and sharpen your skills.
  • Practice on headlines. Writing a catchy headline is always the trickiest part of writing. It is easier to write when you already have a headline and the first paragraph – the rest usually flows easily. Spend the practice time you have to write headlines and first paragraphs. It will not be long before you become good at starting.
  • Try a structure. If you ramble or you add information that isn’t absolutely necessary, creating a structure for the article will help. You start by writing down bullet points of everything you need to discuss in the article. Rearrange the key points until you have a good flow and begin writing based on that structure.
  • Get to the point. Once you do get started, try to limit the number of sentences you use to get to the point. You have a clear message to convey, so convey that message without confusing your reader. The first few tries will be difficult, but you’ll get used to writing effectively sooner than you think.
  • Self-edit your piece. Learn to self-edit your piece before publishing or submitting it. Grammar and word checkers can only do so much. What you want to do is review your paragraphs and eliminate sentences that don’t belong in the article. It’s a tough thing to do, but practice makes perfect.

Writing is a crucial skill to master. There are specific techniques (i.e. reading your post out loud once you are done with it) that you can try to help you master this particular skill, but the basics we covered earlier are more than enough to get you started. Being a better writer makes you a better DNP degree holder.

Research

Being a nurse leader is all about knowing how to do research. You have a lot of information to gather—and plenty of sources to tap into—in order to get a bird’s-eye view of the team you are running. Research is such an important part of the job, that DNP courses include classes in research and data analysis to prepare future nurse leaders and educators.

PR professionals also rely on research to do their work, especially since every release and bit of information shared with other parties need to be accurate and based on facts. For PR professionals, research needs to be in-depth, holistic, and based on specific needs. The same is true for those working in healthcare, especially as institution or team leaders.

Similar to writing, research is a skill that can be developed through simple exercises. Research, in general, is divided into 5 key steps, which are:

  1. Topic Development – this is where you decide on a specific topic to research, and then craft the limits or scope of the study. You want to be able to limit the amount of information you gather by limiting the scope; this way, you don’t end up with too much information that you don’t really need, wasting a lot of time in the process.
  2. Information Gathering and Processing – information can be acquired from various sources. Books, reports from within the organization, market insights, papers, and past studies, and even articles on the internet are valid sources that can give you a lot of information about specific topics.
  3. Information Analysis – the initial processing of information involves sorting and filtering materials. The real work is analyzing the collected information in order to better understand the topic of your study. Once again, having a limited scope helps, since you can easily focus on key details that are relevant to your study.
  4. Write and Communicate – research needs to be put in writing and communicated to stakeholders. When you conduct a study on how well your team of nurses works under pressure, chances are you need to present the results to management. When working on a course assignment, the results must be submitted to complete your course.
  5. Add Citation – since we already covered writing as a skill, writing and communicating the report should not be a problem. One thing you must not forget when conducting research is adding citations for every external information you include in the final report. Citations add credibility to the result of your research.

Improving your ability to do research is easy now that you have a wealth of data—most of which is now just a few clicks away—to work with. However, there are additional details to work on in order to further sharpen your ability to research specific subjects.

First of all, you want to understand your target audience. Yes, it is important to know to whom you will be communicating the results from the beginning. This way, you can take into account their expectations, the kind information they seek, and other details (i.e. whether they have read similar studies before) before conducting your research.

Seek similar and past studies before moving forward  too. Sometimes, you find studies that are not only similar but also very relevant to the one you want to do. This means your research can be based on a past paper, allowing you to focus on more specific facts, proving the included theories, and making sure that your own research is tailored to your audience.

Lastly, make sure you stick to the facts. Research is all about facts. Sure, you can include conclusions and hypotheses to further sharpen the final report, but that doesn’t mean the entire research paper can be based on your opinion. The more objective you are when reviewing the facts, the more accurate your research paper will be.

Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is extremely valuable, both for PR professionals and nurse leaders. Those pursuing a DNP degree will find multiple occasions when they have to rely on their strategic thinking ability to understand and solve problems given as assignments or tests. The same is also true when you are a nurse leader working in the field.

Strategic thinking represents your ability to review a situation and plan actions based on limited understanding, including additional steps to take. Strategic thinking always focuses on one particular thing: a set of goals to achieve. Every planned action must contribute toward the completion of those goals.

For PR professionals, strategic thinking is a must. Being able to make plans on the go while talking to media executives or brand managers means always leading the competition. Strategic thinking also leads to better situational awareness and control, which usually leads to better performance when under pressure or when in less-than-ideal situations.

Strategic thinking also means seeing the bigger picture. In healthcare, for example, nurse leaders must not only manage their team members individually but also look at ways to improve healthcare services to families or patients. At the same time, nurse leaders must recognize patterns, spot potential problems from miles away, and plan ahead.

That actually brings us to the big question: how can strategic thinking be mastered as a skill? By accepting the fact that strategic thinking is a part of your job. Similar to the previous two skills, there are a lot of things you can do to sharpen your ability to think strategically.

  • Learn to observe and recognize trends. Forget about coming up with a plan or taking action immediately for a second and start by listening to understand the situation. Explore the situation – you can even create mock situations to practice your ability to listen and understand – and learn to absorb information as quickly as possible. The step that follows is recognizing patterns and trends. At this point, you can always capture issues and trends for further processing.
  • Ask the right—and often tough—questions. Now that you have a better understanding of the situation, it is time to broaden the factors you take into consideration. Inquiring for additional details, talking to key personnel, and asking the right questions will help you get the data needed to plan ahead. Don’t hesitate to ask questions related to potential issues (or even feelings, in some cases) so you have all the information.
  • Master planning ahead. Don’t stop at planning to solve the particular issue you are dealing with. You already have so much information to work with, which means you can go beyond solving problems. For instance, you can start planning for solutions or workflows that would prevent similar problems from happening again. You can also anticipate blowbacks and additional risks more effectively.
  • Review and learn some more. Strategic thinking is, without a doubt, a skill that gets sharper over time; experience is still the best way to master this skill. The way to speed up your learning process is by evaluating the strategic decisions made around you and learning from them. You can also review the plans and actions you have made over time for a clearer understanding of your decision-making process.

One more thing to understand about practicing strategic thinking is the fact that you may have to alter the way you think, and that is an uncomfortable process. Changing how you gather and manage information, how you listen to others, and how you process the details you have collected are all challenging. Overcome the challenges, however, and you’ll be a fantastic nurse leader and educator.

From these three skills, it is easy to see how PR and healthcare are closely related to the market. By mastering the key PR skills as you pursue a career in nursing practice—or the aforementioned Doctor of Nursing Practice degree—you will be able to overcome virtually any challenge you come across along the way; you’ll be happy that you have these skills to lean on in difficult situations.

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Maggie Hammond
Often found exploring the US, freelance writer Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and a keen advocate for alternative medicine and holistic treatments. Additionally, she feels passionate about raising critical awareness of the strain on public health organizations.

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