While the numbers are difficult to determine, roughly 1 to 2 million people enter a rehab clinic each year. Unfortunate as these situations are, these clinics are in great need of PR support. In an industry where success is measured by survival, PR experts play a critical role in managing the impact these unfortunate situations have on a clinic’s ability to help those that need it most. In fact, the help a PR firm can provide is most tellingly focused on four key arenas.
At its most basic level, when a family is facing the crisis of a loved one battling with addiction, the last thing they need to be concerned about is a negative review about a prospective clinic that is wholly undeserved. Bad situations happen, especially when people that need help are involved. The road to recovery is a long one for most addicts, in fact it is a road that extends a lifetime. Few would care to admit such a burden to those that are close to them, let alone to broadcast their success to the entire world, especially when that success could wind up with them falling off the wagon as happens with so many addicts.
That is why for rehab clinics it is so very critical that they encourage positive feedback whenever possible, while addressing complaints and negative reviews with compassion and understanding. Patience is critical, because if a clinic has done their due diligence, much of the frustration being penned into a review is likely due to the fact that even the most favorable statistics put recovery below 30%. Staffers may be trained to deal with people face to face, but the nuances of public communication via social media are best left to the experts.
Educate the Public
Publishing useful content is a staple of a PR campaign, and one that is especially critical for the credibility of rehab clinics. With the plethora of rehab centers that exist, each with their own particular approach, it is important for a clinic to establish their best practices to enhance their credibility and stand-out amongst the crowd.
Follow up is also critical for addicts, to ensure that they maintain the progress they made after being admitted. Friends and family can be comforted when researching what they should do if the advice they find has been published by the rehab center the recovering addict had recently attended. Additionally, when this information is available online, it may lend additional credibility to the responses on public reviews where the content would be most relevant when linked.
Communicate/Manage Realistic Expectations
As mentioned before, in rehab, success is when someone survives. According to most experts, recovery in the form of a life-long abstinence from any sort of substance abuse is extremely, almost aggressively rare. Understanding how rare recovery actually is requires better information than what is currently available, due to ethical practices involved with treatment. This leads to a difficult balancing act of encouraging treatment while simultaneously setting the expectation that most treatments fail through no fault of the addict or the clinic.
Not All Rehab Centers Are Created Equally
Every clinic will have their own approach and methodology, and it is the wary PR expert who bears in mind that some clinics are simply not as good or effective as others. Learning the industry so that only the best clients are chosen can be just as critical as following best practice guidelines. It might seem surprising, but many rehab programs operate without using clinical guidelines or methods supported by addiction science. The industry as a whole is not as well-regulated as it could be, which has resulted in clinics that are owned and operated by people without any expertise in the field of addiction at all.