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.
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.
Social media accelerates the crisis management timeline
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.
Johns Hopkins and transparency
Such is the recent case with Johns Hopkins. Recently, 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:
“On Feb. 4, 2013, after being alerted by an employee, Johns Hopkins security department initiated an investigation about concerns involving Nikita Levy, M.D. It was determined that Dr. Levy had been illegally photographing patients with his personal photographic and video equipment and storing those images electronically. Tragically, today we learned that Dr. Levy apparently has taken his own life.
Any invasion of patient privacy is intolerable. Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for any patient whose privacy may have been violated. We continue to work closely with the Baltimore Police Department and will assist them in any way possible.
We have set up a call center for Dr. Levy’s patients and are also offering them counseling. The number is 855-546-3785.”
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 — which to me seems to 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?