You’ve probably heard that oft-quoted, embellished Mark Twain quote, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The same can be said of the rumored demise of earned media relations. But I am happy to report that it’s still alive and kicking and highly relevant for today’s PR and content marketing programs. Still, some rules of the road apply to ensure success.
I attended the popular press and media panel at HITMC 2023 with four people from print, online, and broadcast mediums: Doug Harris, associate director of content at SmartBrief; Fred Bazzoli, editor-in-chief of Health Data Management; Gerard Ramalho, communications expert and television journalist; and Fred Goldstein, healthcare consultant, and podcaster.
Build Relationships With the Media
All the panelists echoed tenets that any media relations person should be aware of, but that still bears repeating. The first is that it is essential to build relationships with the media. One important way to do that is to understand who your audience is and what stories they want you to write. Put in the work on the front end to prepare a relevant story and find the right journalists and outlets to drive the best results. If you offer a story, communicate clearly and follow through on what and whom you can offer. Panelists said they appreciate when product news includes evidence or stats and quotes from (or access to) an end user.
Make Your Impact Clear
Bazzoli began with his interest in solutions that are making a difference in healthcare. He finds peer-to-peer discussions with CIOs and CMOs valuable. He also reiterated the importance of translating what companies are doing to how it impacts the company and makes their customers’ (also readers’) jobs easier and how it fits in the industry at large.
Although he is focused on TV, Ramalho offered good general advice for pitching stories to any media. I liked “Don’t just send data speak. What paints a picture?” Give context to the new tech that does x, y, and z. Think about the story behind it. Indeed, for TV, there must be a visual aspect. But whether it’s for TV, print, or online, think about the story from a broad [industry] sense and how your technology applies.
Address Critical Industry Topics
Next, the panelists expanded on specific topics they want to cover. This discussion tied into the prior conversations about the importance of building relationships with journalists and knowing key trends. Harris from SmartBrief started it off with a wealth of topics, including social determinants of health, healthcare equity, data siloing and interoperability, value-based care, AI (and how that helps drive better patient outcomes), algorithm bias, and what impacts the bottom line for providers and payers. Bazzoli followed suit and seconded the importance of healthcare equity; He added that he enjoys writing about solutions that will improve the patient and clinician experience, particularly those that address clinical burnout in terms of clinician workload, documentation, and management of the technology interface. Since Goldstein’s podcast focuses on population health, this topic was straightforward: He’s looking at how providers can implement technology to address population health.
Customize Your Comms
The panelists closed the session with one of my favorite topics — pet peeves. And I love when I know we’re not doing that. The biggest pet peeve from this group? Spammed pitches — aka, pitches sent to a group of journalists without any attempt made to customize the note for each. These days, we understand and encourage the balance between quality and quantity, emphasizing the former, especially for significant news. The panelists also confirmed that they like “exclusivity” on a story.
Personalizing a note to a journalist is as easy as ensuring the subject line highlights an essential aspect of the news and that the salutation is the person you’re addressing. A bonus is acknowledging an article by that journalist which relates to your news. From there, the information in the pitch should suit the preferences of the journalist and their readers, including why it is important to them.
Here at Look Left, we take our media relations seriously and have our finger on the pulse of PR, marketing, and SEO strategies. Do you have a cool digital health story but need help telling it? Learn how Look Left can help you create, enhance, and share it with the right audiences.