No, this blog is not just about the FRONTLINE piece on Assisted Living. That may be the fuel that got it going, but it’s about more than that. I needed a place to talk about my perspective, the PR perspective, and my observations as a PR professional in the senior living industry. Here is why the PR perspective is important (and largely unheard in this market):
1. There are only Marketing Departments. PR mostly doesn’t exist.
Most, if not all, senior living communities - assisted living, independent living or otherwise - have a Marketing Director or a Marketing Department. But, public relations is usually non-existent unless done so through a consultant or an agency. Some of the bigger senior living companies will have a few PR people in-house, but even when I’ve seen that happen, the PR staff is responsible for multiple other chain communities as clients, and the effort spreads pretty thin.
2. “Marketing” means “sales” and “advertising” means “PR”
Especially in the for-profit communities, “Marketing” is usually the term used when talking about “occupancy.” Occupancy means sales. This means making sure that the apartments, condos, houses or what have you are filled with people. This all translates to the bottom line. And “advertising” is the term mostly used when discussing public awareness strategies for the Marketing department. Paid media is generally one of the most widely used avenues to gain awareness for a community.
Because of the rarity of owned or earned media in senior living marketing, you could say that my position is unique, as is my focused PR perspective. So, I hope you’ll continue reading. This is the last post I’ll mention Frontline. Promise.