Integrated communications plan leverages paid, earned, shared and owned media campaigns

Growing awareness of a Chicago home care agency by families seeking professional caregivers

Situation

One in five Americans aged 70 and older say they can’t live independently or accomplish daily tasks without assistance. To accommodate an aging U.S. population, more than 1.3 million new paid caregivers are needed to meet demand by 2027.

With more than 700 home care agencies in Illinois (500 non-medical) how does one company distinguish itself?

It’s well known that 90 percent of seniors prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes as long as possible as they require more care. Many working professionals seek outside professional help when mom or dad aren’t mom or dad anymore. Some families consider paying for private care at home with savings and long-term-care insurance. The advantage of choosing an agency over private care, or caregivers from a registry, is that agencies minimize risk for families due to being licensed, insured and bonded, which individual caregivers likely are not.

The caregiving industry has a 60-percent turnover rate. Typically caregiving positions are low wage, yet Open Arms pays above minimum wage, claims a high 93-percent satisfaction rate by clients, and stringently vets its caregivers before selecting only 10 percent of applicants received.

Complication

Usually an emergency, such as a fall or hospital visit, triggers a call to an agency by a family member or clinician. It is human nature to hesitate to ask for help and most families wait to formalize professional home care efforts. Full-time working adult children can be completely overwhelmed, waiting until the last minute and trying not to quit their day jobs for family caregiving.

Growing its business and anticipating a caregiver shortage, Open Arms needed an integrated communications strategy to identify and recruit qualified caregivers who demonstrated its core values of teamwork, compassion, positivity, doing the right thing and going above and beyond. A request for a caregiver “within a few hours” is not uncommon and Open Arms meets these families’ needs.

Solution

After primary and secondary research in the marketplace, a year-long integrated paid, shared, owned and earned media campaign began. Open Arms’ priority audiences were researched, identified and reached in channels including email, Facebook, the blog, the website and in local and metropolitan newspapers.

Messaging focused on the agency’s differences including the fact it exceeds the Illinois Department of Public Health requirements of visiting homes once every 90 days and caregiver background checks by researching county records in which they’ve lived. Care Coordinators, a fairly new role in the industry, talk to the aging adult, his or her family or power of attorney at least once a week.

A dozen stakeholders were recruited to speak on behalf of the company including caregivers, referral sources, families of adult children and aging parents, and employees. This third-party voice made Open Arms’ message more relevant to families seeking care and to caregivers seeking jobs.

Results of an annual shared, paid, owned and earned media campaigns

Shared

  • The Facebook community page fan base grew 300 percent in six months from 380 followers to more than 1,100 with compelling content, visuals, and an engaging community management strategy.
  • More than 450 of the new followers were potential caregivers based on refined paid targeting efforts.
  • Compelling content and visuals increased engagement 366 percent in one month.
  • Half of new ‘followers & likes’ growth were potential caregivers sought by Open Arms to meet demand by families desiring professional caregiving in their homes.

Paid

  • Three ad campaigns were viewed by nearly 45,000 people in four months.
  • Nearly 38,000 people reached were potential caregivers based on targeting efforts.
  • A week-long paid recruitment ad encouraged potential caregivers to “Apply Now.” It drove recruitment efforts resulting in 832 link clicks, 65 page likes, 62 shares, 26 comments and five web conversions.

Owned (website, blog)

  • An website infrastructure enhancement, three caregiver videos and three email campaigns with a successful average 35-percent open rate, allowed more caregivers to apply and shortened its recruitment time with compelling content.
  • This blend of organic content and paid Facebook ad campaigns in three months drove 1,451 new visitors and resulted in 6,195 page views.
  • A six-part blog series resulted in a successful average page-view time of almost four minutes. A 18-percent exit rate reading the pieces on the site, indicates those who visited the blog continued to explore more on the site.

Earned Media

  • A Daily Herald column focused on aging at home using the Open Arms approach and reached approximately525,160 readers daily during the week with another 313,000 impressions online monthly.
  • A more broad Chicago Tribune story (video and print) about caregiving featured a 90-year-old Open Arms client. Sunday readership is 748,000 with 19MM online impressions monthly.

This integrated branding strategy and approach elevates Open Arms in a crowded and competitive marketplace as it continues to increase revenues over 500 percent since 2010 and as the population over 80-years old increases from 12 million to 19.4 million by 2030 and to over 30 million by 2050.