Whether you’re about to launch your healthcare startup or you’ve been in business for a few years, getting media coverage should be part of your business plan. A healthy dose of public relations builds brand awareness, establishes thought leadership and drives traffic to your site.

Yet simply issuing a press release to announce your launch isn’t enough. You need to figure out what your story is, why anybody cares and the best way to tell it.

Here, find out what media outlets really look for when they decide to run a story and how you can get the coverage your healthcare startup needs.

1. Pitch stories, not sources

Ask any journalist and they’ll tell you that they get hundreds of pitches each week from public relations firms and about 99 percent of those emails are either left unopened or deleted.

Why? Because many of these publicists make one crucial mistake: they pitch their clients, not their clients’ stories.

Journalists, editors and producers have a long list of go-to experts that they can usually get on the phone for an interview within minutes.

What they really need however, are stories. But not just any story. They need stories that have a unique perspective, a fresh spin and are relevant to their readers.

So instead of simply issuing your press release and crossing your fingers, think about what your company’s story is or how you can contribute to the conversation in a way that hasn’t been covered before.

2. Establish thought leadership

To establish credibility and build brand awareness, have your marketing team ghostwrite thought leadership articles and pitch them to trade outlets.

Research several potential outlets and study their content. Look at the types of stories they run, the average word count and the style and tone. Most outlets have guidelines for guest contributors which will also give you an idea about what they look for.

Most importantly however, is to think about the challenges your industry faces and offer real solutions that no one else is talking about.

3. Think like a publisher

Smart healthcare startups know that consistently creating content is necessary for brand awareness, SEO and generating leads. As you hire your marketing team, you will need to create buyer personas, a content marketing strategy, an editorial calendar and an inventory of your content.

If that seems too advantageous right now however, focus on writing at least two blog posts a week and share them on social media.

4. Offer a study or survey data

Just as healthcare startups thrive on data, journalists, editors and producers also rely on the numbers to make a story timely, relevant and credible. Whether it’s the results of a clinical trial, a new study or survey data, make sure you lead with data.

5. Foster relationships

Don’t worry too much about not having media contacts because if you have a great story, a journalist will be interested. In fact, according to a survey by Muck Rack, 91 percent of journalists respond to PR people they don’t know.

When you have had your first placement, find opportunities to keep the momentum going. Whether you received another round of VC funding, hired an executive or developed a new product, continue to pitch the media.

Once you’ve been interviewed for a story, a journalist will be much more likely to contact you again if you can offer great ideas, contribute to the conversation and know how to give a great interview. Also, make it a point to read their stories and follow them on social media to understand the types of stories they write.