Johns Hopkins has a wonderful reputation for providing outstanding health care. They also are no strangers to the social media world. In 2010, when a shooting happened at the hospital, they turned to social media with regular updates.
Their efforts were admirable, to say the least, and appeared as a well-coordinated effort even during a crisis situation that was unfolding by the minute. Now, Johns Hopkins faced another crisis, and once again their response can serve as a model for transparency in social media.
As a media relations professional, I’ve experienced the behind-the-scenes efforts during a crisis for a hospital. As an extremely conservative and cautious industry, this is usually not something that is done in minutes, but more likely hours. Yet in today’s world, social media has given rise to the 24/7 news cycle. Media outlets and citizen journalists are posting and reading information and breaking news all the time, wherever they are.
There have been times that we have opted to not post information about a crisis situation on our Facebook page or Twitter feeds. It was felt that this was making it too public and only those who inquired about a situation would be provided with a statement. I do understand that approach, yet it’s not the transparent one.
Transparency is a way to build loyalty and garner advocates for your brand. Being transparent and straightforward in any situation will more likely earn respect even if your community takes offense to what has occurred.
Such is the recent case with Johns Hopkins. This weekend, they chose to post about a very sticky situation with one of their physicians. A physician clearly breached patient privacy and then that physician committed suicide.
Johns Hopkins’ approach? They posted it for everyone to see right on their Facebook page. Short, sweet and to the point. The post described what happened, explained that privacy breaches are not tolerated, and stated what they were doing about the situation. You don’t get any more transparent than that, nor can you approach the situation any better.
The comments they received were obviously mixed, especially since some of them were posted by patients. Overall, however, there were nearly 90 “likes” on the post — a show that people appreciate the openness.
Do I think they helped build advocates for their brand? Absolutely. I am so impressed with how they handled the situation, and I hope we can rise to the same level of transparency when I find our organization in its next crisis.
What about you? Do you agree with their approach? If not, what would you have done differently?