The Cleveland Clinic Adopts a Healthy Regimen for Marketing and Brand Journalism

Every industry has a leader who seems to excel in the use of marketing technology and innovation. For years, we’ve followed the Cleveland Clinic, admiring them for their marketing best practices. Here’s how chief marketing and communications officer Paul Matsen has helped make Cleveland Clinic one of the most recognized and respected healthcare brands in the world. 

Creating high-value, tailored content for data-driven marketing

Matsen and his teams use the insights of the Cleveland Clinic’s physicians and clinical thought leaders to elevate his organization’s messaging and connect with healthcare consumers. Marketo’s AI-powered marketing automation and predictive content platforms are essential to his SEM program, but the real key to its positive impact is having thoughtful, compelling, actionable content co-created by brand journalists and first-rate clinicians. 

Partnering with his organization’s clinical SMEs to produce unique, high-value content and with Marketo to deliver the most relevant content to individuals searching online for disease and treatment information has been a winning strategy. In a presentation at the Ad Club’s 2018 Vital Signs health and wellness marketing event, Matsen said his team’s paid search lead generation efforts in 2017 delivered a 13-to-1 ROI, producing nearly 70,000 patient leads and nearly 8,500 new patients. 

Investing in earned and owned media through brand journalism

Earned media continues to be the Cleveland Clinic’s number one source of total awareness. So, with the number of dedicated healthcare journalists declining, in 2017 Matsen and his executive director of corporate communications, Eileen Sheil, launched a digital Newsroom, a powerful application of brand journalism. Their goal was to create an online resource for journalists to find the information, content and resources they need from a trusted national leader. In addition to traditional elements like news releases and op-eds, the Newsroom lets journalists download assets including video, social and visual storytelling and infographics directly from the Cleveland Clinic. 

It’s also a self-publishing platform that hosts unique news content focused on innovation and the Cleveland Clinic’s mission of clinical excellence, education and research. Any national journalist can go to the Newsroom to find the stories, but Sheil’s team also distributes them through this digital platform to TV stations in target markets and is able to share great stories that media outlets wouldn’t otherwise pick up. 

The Newsroom, which had an estimated 53.5K visits in April, according to SimilarWeb, is central to Matsen’s and Sheil’s earned and owned media strategies. They use the Cleveland Clinic’s extremely active social media channels, which have 2M followers on Facebook, 2M on Twitter, 227K on LinkedIn and 79K on Instagram, to connect content and news with target audiences at scale. Sheil’s team targets journalists and influencers with original tweets via the dedicated Twitter handle @CleClinicNews.  

Matsen has been able to demonstrate its value and ROI to the rest of the Cleveland Clinic’s senior leadership team, thanks to robust in-house data warehouse and analytics tools that measure and track monthly the total number of stories produced, online placements, TV and radio placements and visits to the Newsroom, as well as the number of people who downloaded content and the open rate for pitches. 

The Cleveland Clinic’s approach to data-driven and journalistic marketing can and should be replicated. If your organization doesn’t have the resources to develop and staff a digital newsroom like the Cleveland Clinic’s, we recommend engaging a team of seasoned brand storytellers who can engage directly with your thought leaders and SMEs, turn their insights into inspiring brand stories and effectively distribute them through earned and owned channels to reach your prospects.

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