How to Evolve Your Print Magazine into an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

Get more out of your print magazine with an integrated strategy. Here’s how healthcare leaders are evolving their approach to content marketing.

If you’re already using print con­tent mar­ket­ing, con­grat­u­la­tions: You’re ahead of the curve! The Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Insti­tute recent­ly sug­gest­ed that mar­keters con­sid­er using print because every­thing else is going online. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to ditch dig­i­tal, but it does mean you need to cre­ate an inte­grat­ed con­tent strategy.

(And if you’re not already pub­lish­ing, here are six rea­sons to rethink print from con­tent mar­ket­ing guru Joe Pulizzi.)

Accord­ing to a By The Num­bers report from the Soci­ety for Health­care Strat­e­gy and Mar­ket Devel­op­ment, health­care mar­keters lever­ag­ing the pow­er of print are actu­al­ly in the major­i­ty. They found that 80% of its mem­bers pro­duce com­mu­ni­ty pub­li­ca­tions and 71% pro­duce employ­ee pub­li­ca­tions. In addi­tion, near­ly half (44%) pro­duce pub­li­ca­tions for physicians.

While health­care mar­ket­ing often gets a bad rap for being behind the curve, if print con­tent mar­ket­ing is part of your toolk­it, you’re also in good com­pa­ny. Face­book, Airbnb and oth­er glob­al brands are embrac­ing print to engage their “always on” audi­ences in a “lean-back” for­mat with less dis­trac­tions.

Suc­cess Sto­ries: Expand­ing Cus­tom Mag­a­zine Con­tent Beyond Print

While print remains viable—and usage is even increas­ing among younger demo­graph­ics, an effec­tive cus­tom mag­a­zine is now part of a larg­er engage­ment or growth strat­e­gy that lever­ages con­tent mar­ket­ing tools and mul­ti­ple dig­i­tal touch­points to pro­mote, inte­grate and mea­sure con­tent devel­oped for the publication.

Here are a cou­ple exam­ples of health sys­tems that have evolved their con­tent strategies:

HSHS Sacred Heart Hos­pi­tal — A cen­ter­piece exam­ple of an inte­grat­ed con­tent strat­e­gy is a blog called Inspir­ing Health, which lever­ages con­tent from an award-win­ning com­mu­ni­ty pub­li­ca­tion of the same name and is then opti­mized for search and pro­mot­ed through paid and organ­ic social media, native adver­tis­ing and email. Fol­low­ing its Feb­ru­ary 2019 launch, the blog received more than 2,000 page views dur­ing the first month—including 1,500 new users. Engage­ment met­rics for Face­book and native adver­tis­ing are beat­ing indus­try bench­marks, mean­ing the audi­ence is engag­ing with this con­tent at a high­er rate com­pared to oth­er health­care-relat­ed promotions.

magazine and digital display

Methodist Health Sys­temMethodist pro­duces a 48-page, quar­ter­ly print pub­li­ca­tion titled SHINE along with info­graph­ics, videos, patient sto­ries and oth­er types of con­tent to reach the com­mu­ni­ty. In 2019, the mar­ket­ing team part­nered with True North to launch SHINE Online and deliv­er a mul­ti­fac­eted con­tent expe­ri­ence with rel­e­vant nur­tur­ing and con­ver­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties. With­in the first two months, the site was already dri­ving engage­ment at unprece­dent­ed lev­els. In fact, August and Sep­tem­ber of 2019 pro­duced over 1,000% more traf­fic than the same time frame in 2018 on Methodist’s for­mer blog, which was housed on their main site. Learn more about the evo­lu­tion of SHINE in a detailed case study.

Methodist magazine and digital display

Read the Case Study: Methodist Health Sys­tem Boosts Con­sumer Engage­ment With Inte­grat­ed Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Strategy

The Advantages of an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

As these exam­ples illus­trate, extend­ing the con­tent in your cus­tom mag­a­zine to an inte­grat­ed con­tent approach offers sev­er­al ben­e­fits for your audi­ence and your organization.

  • Grow Your Audi­ence. Broad­en the reach of your con­tent beyond the publication’s defined cir­cu­la­tion, which is typ­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed based on demo­graph­ics, geog­ra­phy and oth­er parameters.
  • Mul­ti­ply Your Chan­nels. Add val­ue and depth to your web, email and social plat­forms through con­tent already cre­at­ed for your magazine.
  • Mea­sure the Impact of Your Con­tent Mar­ket­ing. Con­nect your con­tent to dig­i­tal touch­points to allow for real-time mon­i­tor­ing of site traf­fic, open rates and oth­er met­rics that demon­strate the val­ue of your con­tent mar­ket­ing investment.
  • Gen­er­ate Increased Out­comes. Increase expo­sure to your con­tent to build rela­tion­ships with online con­sumers, posi­tion­ing your brand as the best choice when seek­ing solu­tions to their health­care needs.

So the ques­tion is: How do you evolve your print con­tent mar­ket­ing pro­gram to a more inte­grat­ed strat­e­gy offer­ing that engages the audi­ence via web and social chan­nels? Try these three techniques.

1. Inte­grate cus­tom mag­a­zine con­tent into your website.

To begin, start by iden­ti­fy­ing a place on your exist­ing web­site to incor­po­rate the con­tent. A blog or health news sec­tion on your site may be per­fect. If you do not have an area that acts like a blog, invest some time into cre­at­ing a space that can be eas­i­ly inte­grat­ed into your company’s site. This addi­tion will enhance your online pres­ence and make your orga­ni­za­tion more com­pet­i­tive, pay­ing div­i­dends long term.

“By opti­miz­ing con­tent for the web, you nat­u­ral­ly kick-start organ­ic search vis­i­bil­i­ty for peo­ple search­ing for the key­words includ­ed in your con­tent,” says Ash­ley DuFrene, senior dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist at True North Custom.

2. Repur­pose your print con­tent for an online audience.

Cre­at­ing a sea­son­al cus­tom mag­a­zine takes time and effort in order to reach your com­mu­ni­ty audi­ence in a way that res­onates. To cre­ate rel­e­vant and news­wor­thy con­tent read­ers want to see, include gen­er­al well­ness infor­ma­tion with sea­son-spe­cif­ic sto­ries, care­ful­ly cho­sen pho­tog­ra­phy and graph­ics, and inter­views that incor­po­rate quotes from local experts.

By the time the next sea­son rolls around, your mag­a­zine no longer feels fresh and rel­e­vant, and the pub­li­ca­tion you have been admir­ing should prob­a­bly be retired. The good news is you do not have to get rid of the con­tent com­plete­ly. By repur­pos­ing the sto­ries in your cus­tom mag­a­zine for the web, you can cap­ture and con­nect with a wider audi­ence for an indef­i­nite peri­od of time.

“Print mate­r­i­al is great for com­mu­ni­cat­ing and spread­ing aware­ness among your tar­get mar­ket. How­ev­er, all mag­a­zines have a shelf life with­in someone’s home,” DuFrene says. “Opti­miz­ing your mag­a­zine con­tent for the web cre­ates new paths for peo­ple to ref­er­ence and find health­care con­tent that is rel­e­vant year round.”

3. Dri­ve traf­fic to your dig­i­tal content.

Once con­tent is up and run­ning, your next order of busi­ness should be to dri­ve read­ers to your repur­posed arti­cles. Emails, newslet­ters, native adver­tis­ing and social media are effec­tive tools to incor­po­rate into your inte­grat­ed con­tent strat­e­gy to achieve this objective.

Addi­tion­al­ly, dri­ving traf­fic to the con­tent via social media builds brand aware­ness, ben­e­fit­ting and posi­tion­ing your entire orga­ni­za­tion as an author­i­ty in the med­ical arena.

“A strong online pres­ence with unique con­tent builds author­i­ty,” DuFrene says. “This posi­tions your hos­pi­tal or health sys­tem as experts in health care in your com­mu­ni­ty, which is the ulti­mate goal.”


Let’s Build Your Content Strategy Together

Find out how we’re help­ing health­care orga­ni­za­tions like yours find, engage and con­vert patients and prospects.

Integrated Content Strategy Drives Growth for Community Hospital

Delivering custom content across multiple channels has allowed Angie Fabian, chief marketing and development officer at Summit Healthcare in Show Low, Arizona, to increase the hospital’s market share while developing a closer relationship with her audience.

“Our com­mu­ni­ty is very small, so we know exact­ly what our dif­fer­ent demo­graph­ics want to see,” Fabi­an says. “And we reach out to them using a vari­ety of media channels.”

Sum­mit Health­care works with True North Cus­tom to pro­duce print, dig­i­tal, and social media as part of their inte­grat­ed con­tent strat­e­gy. Cus­tom mes­sages are direct­ed to tar­get demo­graph­ics with coor­di­nat­ed calls to action (CTAs) that dri­ve read­ers to Sum­mit Healthcare’s pop­u­lar com­mu­ni­ty newslet­ter, which pro­vides news and updates that keep Sum­mit Health­care top of mind as a trust­ed health­care resource with­in the community.

“A lot of peo­ple real­ly like the print newslet­ter, and many oth­ers sub­scribe to our e‑newsletter,” Fabi­an says. “These sources keep peo­ple up to date, even if they’re not com­ing into the med­ical center.”

In addi­tion to dig­i­tal newslet­ters, Sum­mit Health­care keeps phys­i­cal copies in clin­ics for patients and vis­i­tors to take with them. Social media posts also help direct read­ers to Sum­mit Healthcare’s newslet­ter and website.

“We real­ly want to edu­cate peo­ple through­out the com­mu­ni­ty about pre­ven­tive health­care,” Fabi­an says. “Patients can help stop more seri­ous con­di­tions from devel­op­ing if they keep up with pre­ven­tive care.”

Meeting Audiences Where They Are

In order to bet­ter edu­cate its com­mu­ni­ty, Sum­mit Health­care cre­at­ed a YouTube chan­nel that launched in 2017. The chan­nel includes the “Sum­mit Health Cares” video series, which is made up of dozens of pod­cast-style inter­views with staff mem­bers and experts about health­care top­ics that range from patient safe­ty to pedi­atric health.

“Our YouTube videos are also shared on our oth­er social media chan­nels such as Face­book,” Fabi­an says. “In addi­tion to our reg­u­lar inter­views, we post sem­i­nar videos for peo­ple who were unable to attend in person.”

Direct mail cam­paigns are also used to noti­fy the com­mu­ni­ty about sem­i­nars and ser­vices offered by the med­ical center.

“Not every­one knows that Sum­mit Health­care has such a wide range of ser­vices avail­able,” Fabi­an says. “This isn’t usu­al for such a small town, so it’s impor­tant that we get the word out, and we use as many media chan­nels as pos­si­ble to reach a larg­er audience.”

By pro­vid­ing cus­tom con­tent with clear CTAs in mul­ti­ple places and coor­di­nat­ing the mes­sages across chan­nels, Fabi­an feels the hos­pi­tal has the best oppor­tu­ni­ty for its mes­sage to be heard by the peo­ple who need it most — now and in the future.

Let’s Build Your Content Strategy Together

Find out how we’re help­ing health­care orga­ni­za­tions like yours find, engage and con­vert patients and prospects.

Digital Trends in Population Health Drive Custom Magazine for Children’s Hospital

After publishing Checkup magazine for more than six years, Cook Children’s Health Care System took a leap. The risk was worth the reward.

They shift­ed beyond brand build­ing to a com­mu­ni­ty pub­li­ca­tion focused on at-risk com­mu­ni­ties. This focus on dig­i­tal trends in pop­u­la­tion health allowed the hos­pi­tal to tap into a crit­i­cal audience.

Overview and Objectives

Cook Children’s Health Care Sys­tem, a not-for-prof­it health­care sys­tem based in Fort Worth, Texas, had a unique prob­lem. While its Check­up mag­a­zine was extreme­ly pop­u­lar, the pub­lic rela­tions depart­ment knew its tar­get audi­ence was already inter­act­ing with Cook Children’s in myr­i­ad oth­er ways, main­ly through its Check­up News­room website.

They decid­ed to see if a com­mu­ni­ty pub­li­ca­tion could be a use­ful tool for the at-risk, low­er income pop­u­la­tion served by the Cook Children’s Neigh­bor­hood Clin­ics in the company’s six-coun­ty pri­ma­ry ser­vice area. After review­ing exam­ples of pop­u­la­tion health cam­paigns, the process began to shift the magazine.

“We reached out to the Cen­ter for Children’s Health [the divi­sion of Cook Children’s that is home to the organization’s com­mu­ni­ty health pro­grams] to learn if Check­up would be a use­ful way to reach that audi­ence,” says Kel­ly Woo­ley, mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist with Cook Children’s. “Lar­ry Tubb, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and exec­u­tive direc­tor for the Cen­ter for Children’s Health, thought it was worth a try, and we start­ed the new for­mat with the fall issue in 2015.”

Revised Content Strategy for community publication

“When mak­ing a change like this,
it’s impor­tant that you think about
what your audi­ence needs—not just
want you want to tell them—and
the right way to get that infor­ma­tion
to them. We’ve done that with Check­up,
and the read­ers appre­ci­ate and enjoy
the mag­a­zine.”
—Kel­ly Woo­ley, Mar­ket­ing Spe­cial­ist
at Cook Chil­dren’s Health System

Because the new ver­sion of Check­up was intend­ed for a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent audi­ence, every aspect of the pub­li­ca­tion had to be reimag­ined to focus on pop­u­la­tion health ini­tia­tives and research.

The con­tent focused more on pre­ven­tion than the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, expand­ing on cur­rent dig­i­tal trends in pop­u­la­tion health.

“When we talk about our com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion and out­reach ini­tia­tives, you’ll often hear senior lead­er­ship say we don’t want to see patients in the hos­pi­tal or the doctor’s office, because pre­ven­tion is our goal,” says Kel­ly, point­ing out that the arti­cles focus on the sev­en children’s health issues iden­ti­fied in the health system’s Com­mu­ni­ty-wide Children’s Health Assess­ment & Plan­ning Sur­vey (CCHAPS). “We want to be seen not just as a med­ical cen­ter or a doctor’s office, but as a real health resource for our patients and our community.”

Instead of the eight-page for­mat the med­ical cen­ter had used since True North Cus­tom launched the mag­a­zine in ear­ly 2009, Cook Children’s worked with its True North Cus­tom team to cre­ate a 16-page bilin­gual com­mu­ni­ty pub­li­ca­tion with a flip format.

The out­side front cov­er and the first sev­en pages are in Eng­lish. When the mag­a­zine is flipped, the out­side back cov­er becomes the Span­ish cov­er, and the sub­se­quent sev­en pages are in Spanish.

“We know that the audi­ence for this mag­a­zine isn’t all Eng­lish- or all Span­ish-speak­ing,” Kel­ly says. “The house­holds we serve are often blend­ed or extend­ed fam­i­lies where grand­ma or mom might speak Span­ish, but the kids might speak English.

“How­ev­er, we also know that when it comes to med­ical information—even if a par­ent is pret­ty flu­ent in English—they like to receive it in Span­ish because it’s more com­fort­able to them,” Kel­ly con­tin­ues. “That’s why this for­mat works so well.”

The arti­cles, writ­ten at a third-grade read­ing lev­el, tack­le rel­e­vant top­ics like domes­tic abuse and spank­ing. The arti­cles are high­ly visu­al, and they’re typ­i­cal­ly short and con­tain a vari­ety of lists, charts and pull quotes that help read­ers break down con­tent into eas­i­ly digest­ed infor­ma­tion. A puz­zle page was added to pro­vide an activ­i­ty that par­ents and their chil­dren could work on together.

While the ear­li­er for­mat of Check­up was mailed to homes and well received in the com­mu­ni­ty, the new audi­ence for this pub­li­ca­tion is more tran­sient. A new dis­tri­b­u­tion mod­el had to be devel­oped. Today, the major­i­ty of Check­up copies are dis­trib­uted via the wait­ing rooms of the Cook Children’s Neigh­bor­hood Clin­ics and the med­ical cen­ter, as well as through com­mu­ni­ty part­ner orga­ni­za­tions with sim­i­lar goals, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, local school dis­tricts and the YMCAs. It is also mailed to the system’s CCHAPS respondents.


The response to the new Check­up has been outstanding—both from the com­mu­ni­ty publication’s audi­ence as well as from inter­nal stake­hold­ers, who rec­og­nize the much-need­ed shift to align with dig­i­tal trends in pop­u­la­tion health.

“When you change the for­mat of a mag­a­zine you’ve been doing—especially when you’re hap­py with the mag­a­zine and its results—it’s a gam­ble,” Kel­ly says. “But this is one case where we feel like it’s been worth it. It’s been so pop­u­lar that every­one won­ders why we didn’t do this earlier.”

To mea­sure read­er engage­ment, Cook Children’s used True North Custom’s sug­ges­tion of a con­test that read­ers can enter to win a $25 gift card. Kel­ly esti­mates she receives more than 100 entries each issue—an over­whelm­ing response con­sid­er­ing the mag­a­zine isn’t mailed to most homes.

Cook Children’s has also per­formed sev­er­al read­er­ship sur­veys that yield­ed these strong results:

  • Half those sur­veyed read the issue from cov­er to cover.
  • Every­one sur­veyed read at least half of the issue.
  • Eight in 10 used the infor­ma­tion learned from the pub­li­ca­tion, and near­ly 7 in 10 shared the infor­ma­tion with some­one else.
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