Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of health and care services to support more than 500,000 people living in Northumberland and North Tyneside, United Kingdom. They are one of the country's top performing NHS trusts - rated as 'outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission. High-quality patient care is at the heart of everything Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust do. They strive to ensure that every single patient and service user has an exceptional experience and have one of the most extensive patient experience programs of any trust in England.
Find 'below the horizon' influencers
Monitor crises in real-time, on any device
Raise the profile of the PR team internally
As Head of PRat the trust, crisis communication is a fundamental part of Elliot Nichols' role. To prepare for crises, Elliot must execute a number of steps:
1) Analyze internal processes to spot potential weaknesses within the trust
2) Identify stakeholders and influencers who'll need to be kept in the loop if a crisis were to hit
3) Understand where conversations are likely to develop online and how they may spread
These steps are difficult to implement without the support from crisis communication tools such as Meltwater's media intelligence platform. Elliot comments, "Manually scrolling through social media platforms to find out what's been said, who's said it and where the post has been re-shared is impossible. We need understandable data that helps us get a genuine feel for what's going on." Like many NHS organizations, Northumbria Healthcare receives lots of online mentions. Deciding which messages should be responded to, and understanding the online influence of particular messages was time-consuming before having a social media engagement tool in place.
"Crises can be misinterpreted, particularly on Twitter. There could be an influencer/ stakeholder who has got the wrong end of the stick. We must, therefore, monitor, in real time, what's being said, by whom and to what audience. This way we can spot where something may have been misinterpreted, as well as opportunities to influence opinion... During the NHS cyber attack, Meltwater's Engagement platform was the only tool we had access to. It helped us stay informed around what was being said online. Meltwater engage allows us to easily scan through mentions and prioritise which ones need responding to first. The colour coding system for online influence is particularly valuable. Meltwater's morning reports, help me keep up with our overnight coverage. I then pick out the top articles and send them onto our CEO. This helps raise the profile of our PR/ comms team effortlessly."
Elliot Nichols, Head of Public Relations
Elliot uses Meltwater to analyze the impact of previous crises to understand specifically who discusses it online and where the conversation develops in the community. This helps him to plan for future similar crises.
Elliot also identifies influencers within the community to help drive local engagement. "We try to build relationships with people who are both trusted and have a genuine media following. Finding that person can be difficult but hugely rewarding because they have the ability to genuinely move opinion on a local level." Remember, we shouldn't judge influencers purely on the size of their following. A micro-influencer can have a smaller but more engaged community. "I call these kinds of people 'below-the horizon' influencers. They have lots of power within a certain demographic. Meltwater's social influencers tool means finding very specific influencers is much faster. "
Another way Elliot uses Meltwater, is to stay on top of editorial coverage and keep the c-suite in the loop during his busy schedule. "Meltwater's morning reports, help me keep up with our overnight coverage. I then pick out the top articles and send the onto our CEO. This helps raise the profile of our PR/ comms team effortlessly."
"Many of the people I work with are scientists and doctors. Being able to provide quantitative data alongside my personal experience enables me to justify why a particular crisis or tweet shouldn't be responded to"
"Without Meltwater Engage, we wouldn't be able have a high response rate to all the messages we receive. We save a lot of time by having all of our social media feeds in one place"
"The color coded influence rating, shown next to social media coverage means we can look beyond the volume of coverage. In addition I can use past experience, and Meltwater data to get a genuine feel for the severity of a crisis."
— Elliot Nichols, Head of Public Relations