Facebook advertising, while not necessarily sexy at times, can prove to be effective—no more so than for the largest medical practice in Paradise, Calif. that burned down during the Camp Fire last month.

As residents scrambled to escape the disaster, Kurt Hoffmann, founder and creative director of Abra Marketing in Santa Rosa, helped Paradise Medical Group keep its communications going by using the platform for patients needing prescriptions and care.

The medical practice was an inactive client, yet they contacted Hoffmann to help communicate on its main site (which the agency built a few years ago) that it was open and set up in nearby Chico. For his part, Hoffmann knew, through experience, that Facebook was likely the best way to ensure the message reached the largest number of people. So he jumped in to get the message out on the platform.

“I knew from (experiencing) the Santa Rosa fire (last year) that the best source of information—when we were going through that—was Facebook,” he said. “The main media outlets provided some critical information, but the best information was coming from the Facebook groups people set up in the community.”

The simple act of creating a basic ad (seen below) and targeting it to the community and other users in a 25-mile radius provided a great deal of reassurance.

This ad made for one less thing the practice’s patients had to worry about in the midst of the disaster’s chaos.

“Peoples’ worlds are being turned upside down, and we showed that this vital healthcare provider hasn’t missed a beat,” said Hoffmann, who did all of the work pro-bono and served as an important bridge between the medical practice and patients. “People were responding well to our simple messaging, and they were grateful that they were there. These small ‘wins’ of normalcy are huge as you go through a disaster like that.”

With a population of more than 26,000, the post reached over 6,000 people with over 900 visiting the practice’s website. Paradise Medical Group will continue to operate out of a temporary space in Chico while the building is being rebuilt and Hoffmann is helping with ongoing communication on digital platforms, including getting the practice’s Facebook page (set up just before the fires) active.

But it was the most basic and straightforward communication that mattered most in a critical time as the fires entered Paradise.

“Advertising isn’t always trickery,” said Hoffmann, who founded the agency almost 20 years ago. “Sometimes the sexy ad is the way to do that, but sometimes it’s about remembering that you have important information to share. I know it made a big difference for a lot of people needing prescriptions and care, and the news that Paradise Medical Group was open to serve their patients was a source of comfort to the community during a terrible time of tragedy.”

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