October 31, 2023

Healthcare marketers: Time to build better collaboration with HR

In healthcare organizations, large or small, marketing and human resources staff typically take a back seat to the clinicians, practitioners, physicians, and other front-line medical and mental health workers. Marketing and HR have more in common than one might think. They’re both responsible for attracting external people to the nonprofit or company. They both use communication, branding, and awareness-building. And they both support the important work of the larger organization. 

 We’ve been working in the healthcare field for years now, and we’ve seen that the disconnect between Marketing and HR is wider than it should be. But when these two departments team up, they can be more efficient and effective in making their organization stand out.

Breaking Out of Silos

 In many large healthcare organizations, Marketing does marketing and HR owns recruiting and retention. In fact, we’ve worked with clients that had almost a separate brand for employee recruitment (which is not something we recommend). 

 HR is doing their own thing, trying to operate quickly to fill positions; they’re less focused on the importance of upholding the overall brand. Marketing, meanwhile, is working to promote services and programs to patients. It’s pretty common that they haven’t really crossed streams or collaborated. Even in local nonprofits with small staffs, marketing and HR teams tend to operate in silos, focused on their own projects and their own audiences. 

 What happens, though, is that communication — and the brand itself — becomes inconsistent and fractured. Marketing reaches out to prospective patients and clients using one style of messaging; HR communicates with prospective employees using another style. This inconsistency comes off as unprofessional and inauthentic, it sows confusion and mistrust, and it dilutes the brand generally. To be effective, all messaging — regardless of subject matter, content, or audience — needs to be cohesive.

 At a recent healthcare marketing summit we attended, one of the speakers focused on the importance of collaboration between Marketing and HR. Due primarily to the acute employee shortage in healthcare, providers are recognizing they have to get more creative and persuasive in their recruitment and retention efforts — and so Marketing and HR are starting to cooperate more. 

Strategies for Improving Collaboration

Maybe your organization has walls dividing departments that make coordinating your efforts difficult. Maybe you’re concerned that recruitment campaigns and the job openings page of your website aren’t in sync with the overall brand. Here are a few strategies to build productive relationships with your HR colleagues. 

  • Simply open up lines of communication. Casual conversations or conference room discussions might reveal a pain point, like an HR leader who’s frustrated that they’re not getting the applications they want for open positions. Marketers can listen to those comments and recognize an opportunity to start a dialog that might organically grow into a partnership.
  • Start to formalize the collaboration. The conference speaker we heard suggested starting a joint task force comprised of both groups to define roles, establish point people on both sides, and identify challenges and priorities.  
  • Position your marketing team as a valuable supporter. Describe how you will make HR’s life easier and more efficient. Marketing can provide tools and templates and structure that makes communication easier, so recruiters don’t have to wing it. 
  • Emphasize the importance of fully integrating recruitment and employee-relations messaging. Marketing and HR teams should be working together even when posting on platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to make sure the company profile and job listings align with brand strategy.
  • Convey that the brand’s tone, voice, and appearance should be the same, always and everywhere. Your organization speaks to many different audiences, including patients and potential patients, employees and job-seekers. When your brand shows up differently and inconsistently, people don’t know which version of the organization is the real one. A healthcare marketer’s most important task is to build trust. 
  • Look for opportunities to trade knowledge about what’s going on in the organization. For example, if HR is on a big push to fill open RN positions in the orthopedic unit, that recruitment campaign might take priority over a promotion to attract more ortho patients. 
  • Focus on the essentials. Your HR colleagues may not be marketers or content managers, so help them ensure the careers landing page on the website makes a compelling case about joining the organization. Create easy-to-use templates for promoting open positions on social media. Make sure they have the brand standards guide and assets. And look for strategic opportunities to add a “learn what it’s like to work here” message to other brand campaigns. 
  • Finally, the HR/Marketing collab isn’t just about finding new employees; it’s about communicating with existing employees too. The onboarding process is also an area where the two teams can work together to make sure the new employee has a positive experience. Communication about training, career pathways, and other employee programs has been shown to increase retention. As you deepen your collaboration, you’ll likely discover a whole host of other internal initiatives that could use Marketing’s touch. 


The way you market your brand to patients should correlate with how you market to current and future employees. Jointly, HR and Marketing can help develop a culture that people are attracted to, bringing in the best of of the best to your company. This is extremely important when it comes to healthcare because the more qualified practitioners you bring in, the better access patients have to quality care and better outcomes. 

We’ve helped a number of organizations connect the dots between HR and Marketing so the messaging — and the brand — is consistent and effective. Let us know how we can help your team! 

Tenth Crow Creative is a brand marketing agency that creates, aligns, and promotes messaging for health and wellness organizations. Through insightful branding, engaging design and compelling marketing campaigns, we help these essential organizations find their identities and effectively communicate with their stakeholders so they can fulfill their missions.