How To Deal With Healthcare PR In The Wake Of The Opioid Crisis

Digital Authority Partners

 First spoken about in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies were quick to reassure healthcare providers that opioids were not addictive substances.

This led to an increase in the amount of prescriptions written and filled for opioid medication over the course of next decade, with little to no understanding of the consequences.

It wasn’t until the U.S department of health and human services declared a public health emergency that people started to understand the seriousness of the opioid crisis, and the impact it was having on U.S people every day.

The reality is that, as these prescriptions increased in popularity, so did widespread misuse and addiction issues.

Although people would initially be prescribed these for pain, the highly addictive properties meant that people were soon seeking out more and more of the drugs to placate their addiction.

For a long time, this increase in demand was not seen as unusual, contributing to the shocking 40% of opioid deaths that could be contributed to prescribed medication in 2016.

Even now, when doctors have more knowledge of the opioid crisis and stop prescriptions at a certain point, many people are resorting to illegally sourcing opioids to feed the addiction that started with a real injury.

As you can imagine, the opioid crisis has only made managing public relations in the healthcare sector even more difficult.

One of the main reason for this is because trust is at an all time low between consumers and healthcare professionals, and the media cares about the reputation of a healthcare facility only secondary to the story that will cause the most drama.

With that being said, there are things that can be done to effectively deal with healthcare PR in the current climate, which we will help you with below.

Create Compelling Content

If you’re looking to retain or improve the online reputation of a healthcare organization in the wake of the opioid crisis, you need to deliver value to your target audience.

This will help to build trust with the audience, which is essential in creating a positive relationship and making your reputation one of helpfulnesses instead of hindering the lives of many.

It’s also a great way of people understanding what your brand is about. According to Digital Authority Partners, a staggering 70% of people preferring to get to know companies through articles rather than advertisements.

You need to make sure that this content is compelling, relevant and high quality enough that people will want to share it with those in their circle.

If, for example, you are a physical therapy organization that encourages fast recoveries, you could write an article about how to perform basic exercises to heal a broken leg.

Depending on where you share this, your content could go viral within your community, leading to a better online reputation and a relationship with your readers.

Release A Press Release Talking About Your Stance On The Opioid Crisis

If you work in public relations, especially in the healthcare sector, you will have been taught not to address controversial issues.

With something as popular as the opioid crisis, however, ignoring its existence can actually do more harm than good.

By refusing to publish your stance on the matter, people don’t know what to think; do you support the opioid crisis, or is your practice all for creating holistic answers to help ease the pain?

Regardless of your answer, writing how you plan to tackle the opioid crisis down in a convenient, condensed press release provides the answer once and for all.

If the traditional or online media pick this up, it could lead to more respect and inquiries as people have a better understanding of your company on the whole and are interested in the tactics you are using to handle the problem.

If you stay quiet, it’s almost like you’re telling your clients that potential addictions aren’t a problem, and that’s never a good thing.

Build A Relationship With Relevant Influencers

Influencers have become a common PR move in many industries, but many within the healthcare industry have been reluctant to make the move.

With so many influencers in the healthcare field exploding into popularity in the last couple of years, however, it would be silly not to consider this as part of your PR plan.

According to ComboApp, by connecting with an influencer that is in your niche, you are able to project your stance and your business morals to a whole new audience instantly, spreading awareness of what your brand stands for.

This isn’t as easy as asking for an advertisement, however.

With so many requests every day, influencers will only accept offers from those they trust, and know their followers will gain value from.

For this reason, it’s important to build up a relationship with the influencer first, by regularly commenting on their social media posts and interacting with them in other ways.

This makes your presence known, and you may even gain some traction from this alone.

Then, once you have built a relationship, you can contact them and ask if they would be able to share your message with their followers in exchange for a fee.

Let’s say you were a physical therapy practice and had recently been engaging with a chronic illness influencer who supported the use of holistic treatments for pain.

After a while, you may approach her and ask if they would be willing to share your message of holistic treatments with their followers.

If they accept, they will be sharing your message, and the trust from them will instantly help the online reputation of your brand. It may even bring you in some more clients, which is always a bonus.


It’s undeniable that things have gotten harder as far as public relations in the healthcare industry since the opioid crisis really took hold, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

By adjusting some of your current strategies, like changing the way you interact with influencers, and implementing new ones, like releasing press releases about the opioid crisis, you can overcome the weariness and gain trust of your target audience. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of healthcare PR agencies that can help today.

The bottom line is that your target audience needs to trust you if they are going to utilise your services, and the methods we have showed here are great ways of doing this.


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