Let’s talk about senior living and PR. But first, consider this: look at any TV news segment or article in the paper and you’ll likely find a ton of negative stories. As humans, it’s natural for negativity to have a strong impact on our minds. That is why news outlets continue to dig for the bad stories happening in their communities.
But here’s the truth that everyone knows: the constant sensationalism from these depressing stories is just that … depressing.
As a senior living operator, you have the unique opportunity to fight this negativity and maximize your reputation organically, both as a company and in the industry. Let’s put positivity back in the news with stories from your communities and from your residents.
How? Enter senior living PR and storytelling.
The Truth About Senior Living: Let’s Show Them
In senior living, positive energy is everywhere to be found, whether it’s from associates, residents, or their families. But let’s face it: senior living is still one of the most misunderstood industries out there.
We’ve heard it before. Adult children caregivers are worried about ‘mom or dad in a senior living facility sitting around all day alone.’
The people who are a part of senior living know better, such as your leadership teams, associates, and marketing agency. This misconception has always been a challenge, but it can be overcome with powerful and positive PR stories.
Keeping the Next Generation in Mind
We also must be mindful that a different generation is approaching their retirement years fast. According to the Census Bureau’s report in 2019, all baby boomers will turn 65 or older by 2030 and 10,000 are turning 65 or older every day. As senior living operators, it’s crucial to look at your services, amenities, technology, and appearance to ensure you will meet their needs, and then advertise and/or promote yourself to them.
Changing the False Perception of Senior Living
It is our responsibility to educate others that our industry does not mean seniors just sitting around. We know that our residents participate in activities every day, interact with other like-minded people daily, enjoy wine tastings, fitness activities like tai chi, and dine on delicious chef-inspired foods. Not only that, but your community teams know their residents by heart, and want to serve them to the best of their abilities.
We’ve seen it time and again as a senior living marketing and communications agency: PR is a powerful marketing tool for your organization, and the best part is that it doesn’t cost nearly as much as your advertising efforts.
When you see your community featured on the 6 o’clock news Sunday night because of a centenarian birthday, the organic exposure is literally priceless. This type of coverage can be worth more than the ad you bought in the paper for thousands of dollars. Instead of telling the audience who you are, you are showing them through your residents’ smiles. You simply can’t beat that!
What PR Stories Do You Want to Tell?
If you are deciding whether to send a PR tip to your senior living advertising agency about an event or about a resident, always pick the resident.
Events can be a good pitch, but they are typically not as great as the stories from your residents. Look around your community. Is there a special birthday coming up, like a resident turning 100? Is a resident participating in volunteer work at the local shelter? What about wedding vow renewals? Is someone stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new for the first time in their life, like skydiving at 90-years-old or receiving their first tattoo at 85? (true stories!)
PR is a positive outcome for everyone, and it is a creative way of storytelling: you are receiving great press about your communities, outlets show heart-warming lifestyle stories to their viewers, and most of all, you are providing more value to your residents’ lives. Imagine their smiles when they see themselves on TV!
Finally, let’s not forget about business topics. There are a lot of business-related PR opportunities in senior living such as grand openings, construction projects, program announcements, new Executive Directors, and more. Your local business journals and national senior housing outlets cover these topics daily, and your company voice should be a part of the industry updates too.
Your senior living marketing agency can assist you with your PR stories, whether it is lifestyle or business.
At Craft & Communicate, we do the legwork for you when it comes to your senior living PR strategy efforts. We will craft your story together, write and distribute your releases, and establish a rapport with local and national media outlets by pitching relevant lifestyle stories or business announcements about your residents, associates, and communities. We can meet your business goals with crisis communications and overall PR/storytelling strategies.
Sending the Right Senior Living PR Stories
How should you, as a senior living operator, send a PR tip that will maximize your community’s image?
We all know how stock photos can look from websites or ads. Why use models when you have the real and best thing … your residents.
The photo you submit with your press release or blog can strengthen or weaken your story. When submitting story ideas to your marketing/PR agency, remember the impact of the photo as well.
For example, if your resident is turning 100-years-old, submit a current picture of the resident and one when they were younger if they have one available. If your resident is participating in volunteer work, snap a picture of them in action donating food to the homeless or giving away toys in a Toys for Tots program. Remember to have photo releases for your resident to approve and sign as well!
Not very savvy with photography? Anyone can do it with the right tips! Read our senior living photography advice blog for a quick and easy glance at snapping the right photo.
When planning and budgeting your 2020 marketing strategy, be sure to include PR. You have stories to tell, and Craft & Communicate is here to help you reveal them to the world.
Until next time!
Content & PR Specialist