Insight for PR Pros Attending the Healthcare Slumber Party
With the U.S. healthcare industry at a pivotal juncture and public relations emerging as the number one creative services job, healthcare PR is an exciting place to be, but it comes with a unique set of challenges.
This week my colleagues and I attended the Publicity Club of New England (PubClub) Boston Healthcare Media Panel to hear advice on successful PR in the healthcare industry straight from the horse’s mouth – the journalists. The panel – which consisted of Carey Goldberg of CommonHealth at WBUR, Jon Kamp of Dow Jones Newswires, Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe and Brian Johnson of MassDevice.com – covered everything from the upcoming excise tax for the medical device industry to the best and worst PR pitches. The conversation provided insight on how healthcare clients’ messages can stand out in an industry that the moderator, David Young of Covidien, satirically compared to his daughter’s recent sleep over.
These are the tips and tricks I took away from the event:
- Provide evidence-based data and research to back up your claims; don’t just tout your product or company. Reporters on the panel stressed the importance of trustworthy and straightforward PR pros, adding that they prefer we attempt to form a long-term working relationship with them over pushing for short-term client coverage.
- Reach out to reporters via email. The consensus of the panel was that phone calls are disruptive, particularly calls to confirm the receipt of an email, and that Twitter is best used as a tool for the consumption of information rather than to pitch reporters. They also stressed that Facebook is really for personal use and not an appropriate forum to connect with them.
- In the new age of social and online media, reporters are under pressure to crank out content. Journalists' annual reviews now include a big focus on their use of social media. As PR professionals, we can help them out by writing high quality and thoughtful press releases that they can easily repurpose for an online article.
- Reporters are also under fire to drive traffic to their online content. PR professionals can assist by sharing the articles they write that mention your clients and the industry via our personal social media networks and across client organizations.
- Do your research before pitching a reporter and know what topics and trends they are covering, as well as what the larger trends are that may be of interest to them. Google News is a great tool for pinpointing media trends.
- The sweeping trend in healthcare is cost containment, and good pitches will offer truly fresh approaches to bending the cost curve. The panel seemed to have a specific interest in reducing patient spending as they begin to take on the role of the consumer.
As a PR professional in any industry, understanding the needs and preferences of your target reporters is essential to successful media relations. The opportunity to hear their perspective, especially regarding their challenges as journalists, was a great refresher for best practices when interacting with my media contacts.