University Hospital Dresden: Pandemic Communications Response

Ketchum Germany has supported University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden for two decades, functioning as the hospital’s communications team. But when the global pandemic took hold, the hospital needed more support than ever to fight COVID-19 and communicate effectively with all audiences. The challenge was twofold: ramping up the hospital’s crisis management capabilities and streamlining communication with all stakeholders — from patients and employees to the public and decision-makers in politics and business.  

The objective: develop a targeted, strategically managed pandemic response to orient, inform, reassure and educate all these audiences, especially frontline staff. Additionally, we needed to position Dresden University Hospital as an important problem-solver and source of inspiration during the pandemic, highlighting its expertise in patient care and medical research.  

The joint Hospital and Ketchum team focused on real-time learning and knowledge sharing, developing all messages and communications content under constantly changing conditions. We then delivered this content across several channels, from earned to social media. 

In just one year, the team produced and distributed more than 1,000 different materials and experienced a 100% increase in media presence, as well as 500% organic growth on Instagram. Additionally, the state government selected University Hospital to lead capacity management for 35 regional hospitals, while parliament awarded the hospital €20 million in special pandemic funding.  

The pandemic response content will also live on as part of history. The Dresden City Archives, the home of historical records dating back to 1260, asked to house the communications materials permanently. Now the scientific community and future generations will have the opportunity to learn from the University Hospital’s experiences and processes for managing an unprecedented crisis by studying these documents firsthand.