The main, if not only reason you might consider accepting advertising is for the income. The money it can generate will not plug the funding gaps, but it could be significant. Trusts that do not have an advertising-income scheme are missing out on potential revenue, with no reputational or financial risks and very little additional work for your trust staff.
We understand that you have a public, patient and staff reputation to safeguard and maintain. Your independent status must not be compromised. All advertising must be legal, honest and decent and not conflict with the medical ethics, values and standards of your trust or your policies or procedures. We would work with you to ensure your trust has the appropriate protections in place and will not be compromised. It is for these reasons that we recommend that every trust we work with adopts an advertising policy. This document provides protection by clearly stating the programme’s framework, function and performance. For more information see Advertising and Sponsorship by External Organisations.
What are the benefits of an advertising income programme?
- Income generation and cost savings – How much income could the programme deliver? This will depend upon many factors, such as staff and patient numbers, car parking spaces, whether you already have advertiser and supplier contracts, and have negotiated the best income terms, including payments for additional services; how open you are to new advertising opportunities; the extent of the unacceptable advertiser categories; whether you will consider other commercial income and cost-saving opportunities, etc. We can provide your trust with a comprehensive Consultancy Report, which will detail the trust’s projected annual income over five years. The report will also examine any and all of your existing advertising supplier contracts in an Audit Report.
- No cost to your trust – all the costs are paid for by the advertisers. We will secure advertiser funding before installing any advertising medium.
- Free up your NHS staff time and resources – your staff are probably spending too much time working with suppliers, trying to manage the contracts. We have spent many years running advertising income programmes for our clients and will work with you to achieve better outcomes.
- Improved communications – your trust can use the advertising space to communicate your own messages. These can either be negotiated as a guaranteed percentage of the space or used when unsold. This could fulfil your communication obligations to promote certain messages to staff, patients and the public. These could be healthcare related, but the space could also be used to promote your own commercial income opportunities such as catering services and offers.
- NHS advertising promotions – If you are involved in any advertising campaigns, then this space could be used for this purpose. There is the potential to agree like-for-like with local media owners (newspapers, radio stations, etc.) or the local council-owned advertising space. Other departments/services with budgets to promote their messages could pay you to advertise, e.g. “Stop smoking”.
- Enhanced visual environment – Advertisers want people to like their adverts, so will try and make them appealing.
- De-clutter communal spaces – it could be possible to introduce a clean wall policy, to remove the numerous unauthorised posters from the walls and leaflets left on tables. These companies would be invited to use the approved sites and formats. If advertisers are paying to promote their messages, then their posters deserve to be seen. We would ensure that the walls would not be crammed with advertising material, because having too many posters reduces the effectiveness of them all.
- Cost savings – many trusts’ staff and members magazines cost too much. You could be using a local printer with high prices, and the costs may not be offset by advertising income. It’s possible that the company that provided the magazine in the past generated advertising revenue, but this may not still be the case. At one trust, the supplier withdrew all advertising income and quoted £30,000 a year to print and distribute the magazine. We found an alternative printer, who provided a better product free of charge. Further savings were made in terms of the time that the NHS staff spent designing and setting the pages to be printed, because these services were provided by the printer.
What are the potential risks?
- Complaints from patients, the public and staff – it is possible that someone will consider the concept of advertising within a hospital unacceptable. If funding was not an issue, then advertising would probably not be a consideration for your trust. By adopting an Advertising and Sponsorship by External Organisations policy, then a degree of consultation will have been achieved. Furthermore, by commissioning a Consultancy Report, the trust will be furnished with all the necessary information to decide if advertising is an appropriate revenue stream.
- Reputational damage to your trust – no company will be approached for advertising if they are from a category that is on your unacceptable list. They must comply with UK advertising law, the guidelines of NHS England and the Advertising Standards Authority. ALL individual adverts will be sent to your appointed staff for final approval.
- NHS staff time – at the outset we will need to consult widely with appropriate staff members to understand your requirements. Once a comprehensive programme has been established, then the time your staff will need to invest will significantly reduce. At the minimum input level, they will be required to authorise all adverts, after they have been pre-vetted by us and attend performance meetings, but if they want greater involvement, then we are happy to accommodate this.
- The programme fails to generate sufficient income – we have many years’ experience of generating advertising income for our council partners and would be happy to provide references for you to contact. Our proven marketing techniques have successfully delivered millions of pounds to our public-sector clients. If you decide to instruct us to manage your advertising income programme and utilise our many income-generating and cost-saving opportunities, we are confident of rewarding your trust with significant income, at no cost or risk to yourselves.