Being the picture of healthy living

Hina Prajapati, Numark’s pharmacy services facilitator, explains how to make the most of your USP as a healthy living pharmacy

You’ve spent months engaging your team, training your health champions and evidencing all of the hard work you have put into achieving and maintaining your HLP or Health+ Pharmacy accreditation; but how does your community know that you are offering front line support for their general health and wellbeing?

You might think it is obvious from your carefully thought-out health promotion zone that you can advise your customers on their health concerns; however there is also the opportunity to reach out to those who may not already visit your pharmacy on a regular basis.

Here are three simple tips for raising awareness of your HLP status in the local community.

1. Update your website

Your health promotion activity doesn’t have to be limited to taking place inside your physical pharmacy.

Once you are HLP or Health+ accredited, you can advertise your new status online via your website. Create
a new page to explain what the HLP initiative is, and how your new status means you can provide extra support to your community.

To bring more people to your website you can include information on health topics and signpost visitors to come into your pharmacy for more advice.

If the information on your website is helpful, people are more likely to visit your website and return to it and your pharmacy for help.

2. Work with local press

You can position yourself as the go-to expert in your community by working with
your local newspapers and newsletters to provide articles on common health issues. Not only does this help raise awareness of local health issues but it could help readers to identify some of the symptoms or behaviours in themselves and encourage them to take action early on.

When writing your press release consider including the following:
• A discussion around the local health statistics for the topic you are discussing • A discussion of the condition and itsimpact on health and wellbeing    
• A discussion of the signs and symptoms, to help people identify them in themselves
• A call to action – ask people to come to your pharmacy for advice and support • Discuss the wider HLP initiative to let people know they can come to you for advice on a variety of topics and not just the campaign you are currently running.

Contrary to popular belief there is no secret to getting your press release featured. The simplest and most effective way of building a relationship with your local press is to simply pick up the phone and talk to them.

Discuss the HLP initiative and how
you think it can help the community – their readers – and ask if they would be interested in including a number of articles highlighting important local health topics across the year.

Ensure they understand that the content of your article is educational and not just a promotional article for your pharmacy. If they display an interest in including your articles then you will need to make sure they are well written and checked thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors.

Remember: local publications are likely to be in competition with each other
for readership so will not be pleased if you have provided them with an article only to see that their competitor has also published it.

Stick with one local publication for your articles, or provide something different for each one.

3. Social media

You can use social media to promote your status as an HLP in a number of ways.
For example:
• Let your community know that you are running an event or health campaign by creating an ‘event’ on Facebook and inviting your customers. Customers quitting smoking need support from others, so getting everyone together on an event day will help people going through the same thing to discuss their goals and progress with each other and in turn help your business.

• In some cases you can make your campaign fun. For example, if you are running a stop smoking campaign
then use props to help your customers showcase and celebrate their successes. If your community can see that others have benefitted from visiting your pharmacy they are more likely to trust that they can get the support they need too.

• Health Champions (HCs) are fundamental to the successful implementation of local health promotion activity. They have shown they make a real difference in delivering health and wellbeing services. It may be an idea to facilitate a network of HCs to help with the sharing of ideas and best practice. One way of doing this is by creating a closed group on Facebook.

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