Posted on May 2, 2012
By: Nicole Hangartner, Account
Executive Legato Marketing and Communications
What makes a great story? A thrilling adventure? Fascinating
You may look at these two factors and think, "There is no way a
story about hearing aids can have these."
This presents one of the unique challenges of writing for
healthcare organizations - turning ho-hum topics into
attention-holding stories. But there are ways to make joint
replacements, CT scans and surgery interesting.
All you have to do is… Show the patient's health journey (the
thrilling adventure) and bring out the patient's personality (the
As I've made my way through two client publications since
starting in healthcare marketing, I've formulated a handful of
tricks (with the help of Legato's experienced team) to make my
patient testimonials informational AND exciting.
5 Tips to Tell Rousing Patient Stories
1. Uncover the patient's personality and demonstrate it
through the story. This will make the article fun to read
and relatable. It takes a health story from clinical to
2. Ask about things that may seem unrelated to a
patient's health story. Things like kids, family, work and
hobbies are great icebreaker topics because they are familiar and
important to the patient. Plus they make excellent leads!
Example - One of my patient testimonials worked at a casino, so
my lead was "she may work at a casino, but she doesn't gamble with
3. Be casual and conversational in your
writing. Start sentences with "and" or "but." And don't be
afraid of "you." Doing so prevents your story from getting stiff
4. Use subheads as transitions. Subheads are a
perfect way to break up blocks of copy and move the story forward.
Find the theme of each section and use it as the subhead.
5. Write short paragraphs and use lists, bullet points
and numbers. These elements make a story easy to read.
Numbered or bulleted lists also allow you to express a lot of
information in a smaller space.
Posted on May 4, 2012
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Marketing and
Spirit, of course, is the airline criticized in the media for
refusing a dying Vietnam veteran a $197 ticket refund because his
doctor told him not to fly. The 76-year-old esophageal cancer
sufferer, Jerry Meekins, bought a ticket on Spirit to visit his
daughter- perhaps the last flight of his life.
But then his doctor cancelled the trip. And, with its lawyer's
savvy PR advice, Spirit refused to refund the price of the
That's when Mr. Meekins went public. And incredulously so,
Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza turned to his lawyers instead of consulting
with his PR professionals. After all, we understand how
emphatic lawyers can be, and how concerned they are with protecting
the image and brand of a company.
Likely, these communications gurus offered the predictable
advice: "Spirit has a non-refundable ticket policy. Refunding Mr.
Meekins' ticket would set a dangerous precedent. He should have
bought flight insurance."
Equally predicable, Spirit's "compassionate" response drew
immediate public condemnation from just about everybody, resulting
in the launch of the increasingly popular Boycott Spirit Facebook
Houston, we have a problem.
Lawyers and public relations professionals often find themselves
at odds with one another. And in all seriousness, we need
attorneys - but ones who can balance the letter of the law with
While lawyers advise CEOs to take actions that protect the
company in a court of law, public relations counselors recommend
actions to protect the company in the court of public opinion.
There are many solutions to this Spirit issue, even at this late
stage. But the point is that PR professionals have a
responsibility here too. Whether you're in the airline
industry, in health care, or manufacturing - you need to work in
advance of a crisis by building a common understanding within your
c-suite of how such situations should be handled. And this
advance work must include the involvement of your legal team, not
only to anticipate various situations, but to build a general
consensus on next steps.
Believe me, from someone who has managed various crises in his
career, it's quite a luxury to think in advance of the obvious
emotion of being embroiled in the heat of a crisis.
Want to learn more about effective crisis management? Email me
at firstname.lastname@example.org and I
will send you a copy of "Preparing for a crisis before it
I encourage you to combine these tips with the learnings of the
Spirit Airlines PR failure, and apply them to your situation within
your hospital, clinic or other business.
Hopefully, you'll never need to implement your plan. But
trust me, chances are, you will.
Airline PR Failure