10 No-Fail Strategies For Pitching The Health Care Media

10 No-Fail Strategies For Pitching The Health Care Media

If you work in health care PR, you know one of the biggest challenges is how to get the media interested in your stories, your products and your campaigns.

You might spend weeks pitching and in the end, only get one media hit—or none at all.

As a health journalist, I’m often asked what reporters look for in a pitch, how they can land interviews and what the secret is to getting the media’s attention.

Truth be told: when it comes to getting publicity, there’s no magic bullet, but there are some strategies that can help. Here are 10.

1. Know your audience


You might think you have the most exciting new product or irresistible story idea but if you’re sending the same pitch to every single outlet, you’ll get nowhere fast.

Each outlet you pitch has an audience with their own unique demographics and drivers so the stories they decide to cover must be tailored for them. It also must be different enough that their competition won’t also be interested.

Before you pitch, ask yourself:

  • What does this outlet cover?
  • If it’s a freelancer, what outlets does this person write for?
  • Will they be interested in this story?
  • Has this person already covered this story?
  • What makes my pitch unique?
  • Is it newsworthy or new?
  • Is it timely and relevant?
  • Am I pitching a product when this reporter doesn’t write about products?
  • Am I leading with a product when I know they won’t mention the product?

Do your research first and make sure your pitch is perfectly suited for the media outlet and the journalist you’re pitching.

2. Cut to the chase


According to a survey by ISEBOX.com, 52% of journalists write at least 5 articles per week so suffice to say, they have less than a minute to scan your email and decide if it’s a fit.

Don’t take two paragraphs to get to the point and don’t bury the lede. If you can’t get to the hook within the first 2 to 3 sentences, your email will probably end up in the trash.

3. Write a strong subject line


With dozens, if not hundreds of emails filling up a reporter’s inbox everyday, it’s easy for your pitch to get lost if it doesn’t grab their attention. You want to make sure that your subject line summarizes the story idea in as few words as possible and is interesting enough for them to open.

Avoid these headlines:

  • Quick question for you
  • Expert available
  • Great story!
  • How to lose weight (or anything generic)
  • Breast cancer awareness month or New Year’s Resolutions
  • Connecting: story idea
  • John, can you chat?
  • What’s in your food? Pesticides (really, no way!)

4. Make it easy

The reporter you pitch doesn’t always have the time to dig further into a story idea and see if it’s worth pitching to their editor or producer.

They might be interested in your story but they need to know: why? why now? and why you or your client?

Make it easy for them and cite new studies, surveys or quotes from experts proving this idea is newsworthy.

5. Pitch health care stories, not topics

Here are some examples of ineffective pitches I recently received. The reason they don’t work is because they are topics, not stories:

  • October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
  • Story: Children’s Health During Back to School
  • Flu myths…
  • Staying Sane During The Holidays
  • Toddlers and Fussy Eating
  • These are much better:
  • 6 Food Myths That Are Making Kids Fat
  • 6 Worrisome Vaginal Issues
  • New Data: Sleep Problems for New Parents

6. Write health care content

It’s no longer enough to simply be an expert, sources need to be publishers too.

Content marketing and public relations go hand in hand.

Creating content will establish your company or client as a thought leader, build brand awareness and help reporters searching for a source find them.

7. Offer video

If your goal is to be on TV, you need to show the producer you’re pitching that you have the chops to pull off an appearance. If you don’t have links to prior appearances, then create your own video.

Even if you’re simply pitching a story for a print or web article, video can show the outlet that you know how to give a great interview.

8. Make sure your sources are available and reliable


If you respond to a HARO or tell the outlet that your expert is available for an interview, do everything in your power to make sure he is ready at any given moment.

Journalists work quickly and have fast deadlines so if your source isn’t available, they’ll find someone right away who is.

9. Offer a unique point of view


Reporters always need to write balanced stories and one of the best ways to land an interview is to pitch a strong perspective.

For example, when an executive pitched me “the dirty little secret” of a particular medical sector, I had him on the phone immediately. Another time, a doctor pitched me the downsides of a diagnostic tool and it made for a strong story.

10. Conduct your own interviews


One of the best ways to uncover great story ideas is simply to ask. After I interview a source, I always ask, what are you working on? and what trends do you see?

Instead of pitching only the stories your client has on their agenda, take some time to interview them about what they’re currently passionate about and chances are, you’ll come up with plenty of new story ideas to pitch.

6 Mistakes Health Care Marketers Make

6 Mistakes Health Care Marketers Make

As a health care marketer,  you’re constantly trying to prioritize which tactics will be give you the best ROI.

If your marketing team is small or already stretched thin, it’s easy to forget about the bigger picture and make mistakes that can hurt your bottom line.

Here are 6 mistakes you might be making and how to solve them.

1. A lack of c-suite buy-in

One of the biggest challenges health care marketers face is getting c-suite buy-in for content marketing. Particularly in hospitals or large health care systems where content marketing is a new idea, it can be a hard sell.

One of the best ways to get your c-level executives on board is to build a business case for it. 

Show them that one-way marketing, regardless of industry, is no longer effective and creating relevant, timely stories is vital for lead generation, acquisition and retention.

Another way to get c-suite buy-in is to show them examples of how their competitors have used content marketing to generate revenue.

2. No content marketing strategy

 According to a 2016 report by the Content Marketing Institute, only 32 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy even though 85 percent cite lead generation as their most important goal.

Just as you have a marketing plan, your team must develop a content marketing strategy if you want to get c-suite buy in, get your allocated budget for content marketing approved and ultimately follow through on your goal to drive sales.

3. No buyer personas


You may understand who your customers are, but without documented buyer personas, no one on your team will be able to create content that truly speaks to your audience.

Buyer personas should include demographics, identifiers, goals, challenges and pain points, and how your company helps solve their problems.

You should also take the time to conduct interviews with your customers so you can compile quotes and understand what they need from you. 

4. Not giving the media what they need

If you want to get media coverage, make it easy for the media to find you. Make sure your website and press releases include the name of the person or people who handle public relations or marketing and make sure those people include their titles on their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

5. Social media is subpar

According to a report by Expio, 41 percent of patients use social media to choose a specific hospital or medical facility.

Yet social media for lead generation is still one of the areas where many health care organizations lag behind.

Be sure to share relevant and timely health care content and make it a point to engage with your followers.

6. You hire any freelance health care writer 

If you don’t have a team of writers, or a colleague who only handles content marketing, content creation can be challenging.

When you search for a freelance health care writer, make sure you hire someone who writes for the health care industry, understands your business and can take all of your great ideas and make them work for you.

7 Common Mistakes Doctors Should Avoid in Media Interviews

7 Common Mistakes Doctors Should Avoid in Media Interviews

Landing an interview for one of your doctors with a national news site, a morning news show or a popular magazine is always a public relations win. It’s good for brand awareness, lead generation and sales. And when you give the media a source they can rely on, they will be more likely to call on you the next time they need a source. Yet let’s face it, doctors are a unique set. They may be smart, have years of experience and some are even published authors, but when it comes to giving interviews, it’s not always their strong suit. Here, read on for 7 common mistakes doctors should avoid when they give interviews. 1. No preparation. When it comes to giving phone interviews for print or online outlets in particular, it’s common for physicians to show up unprepared. They don’t know what the story is about, the name of the outlet and if it will be a print or online story. Watch any morning news show that includes sit-down interviews with doctors however, and you’ll see that they’re pros. Although the producer has likely provided them with talking points, these physicians have done their homework and know how to give a great interview. They know how to field questions and bring their A-game. When you land an interview for your organization, it doesn’t matter who the outlet is or where will it be seen. Make sure your doctors know all the details ahead of time and encourage them to do additional research so they will be a shining source. After all, they’re the experts. 2. Boring the audience. Your doctor might be the leading expert on a certain disease or health condition, but if she cannot deliver the information in an interesting, engaging way, the story falls flat. On TV and radio, the audience will be bored to tears and in print or online, their quotes might be weak or paraphrased. Find a consultant who provides media training to help your source or at the very least, rehearse with her beforehand. 3. Talking on and on. Some doctors love to talk and in fact, that’s probably why you chose them to be sources in the first place. Although your physician shouldn’t give one-word answers, he should answer the questions in sound bites, regardless of the format. Getting succinct quotes and quick sound bites always makes the story shine. 4. Dumbing it down or making it too complicated. When your physician gives an interview with a health journalist, there’s no need to clarify abbreviations like ICSI or explain what the microbiome is. The reporter speaks your language and they will ask for clarification if necessary. On the other hand, make sure the physician avoids medical jargon because the reporter isn’t likely to include a quote that includes words like “immunocompromised” or “cryopreservation.” The same goes when your doctor gives a TV or radio interview: KISS—keep it simple, stupid. 5. Having an agenda. Even if they come prepared, it’s common for doctors to veer off course and talk about what they think the story should be. This can certainly give the reporter ideas for another story, but make sure they know to leave those ideas until the end of the interview. 6. Plugging your company. When giving interviews, a physician may be asked to talk about what she sees as a trend or what common practice is at their hospital. Yet this isn’t an opportunity to sneak in a shameless plug. Unless the story is about the hospital itself, the interviewee knows who the doctor is and will not talk about how great your company is.  7. No added value. The last question I always ask on interviews is, “Is there anything else that’s important?” When I ask this one simple question, 9 times out of 10 I get some of the best information of the entire interview, something I never thought of or an entirely new story idea. Before any interview, advise your physician to have additional thoughts or ideas prepared. If he can give the reporter something extra and of value, chances are he’ll be called again for future stories.
10 Questions To Help You Discover Press Release Ideas

10 Questions To Help You Discover Press Release Ideas

Although there are so many ways journalists, editors and producers find story ideas, the press release is still a tried and true method for getting the media’s attention, especially for healthcare companies who have new studies, survey data and stories to pitch.

In fact, 70 percent of reporters use press releases to get supporting facts and 66 percent use them for interesting story angles, a Business Wire Media survey found.

Not only do trade outlets and business journals need these types of stories to keep their readers up-to-date on industry happenings, but simply distributing a press release is good for SEO and brand awareness. Although you certainly don’t want to inundate the media with tons of emails, you should aim to send a press release at least once a month.

But what if you don’t have anything “new” or news-worthy to write a press release about? No problem. Here are 10 questions your team should be asking to uncover new ideas.

1. Has your company hired a new C-level executive, recruited a new employee from a competitor or promoted a key player?

2. Have you seen an increase in your quarterly sales or a surge in stock value?

3. Will you roll out a new product or service?

4. Have you expanded into a new market, merged or acquired another business?

5. Have a forged a strategic partnership?

6. Have you implemented a new way to reduce costs, improve customer retention or increase ROI?

7. Is your company hosting an event or attending a conference or trade show?

8. Do you have a new spokesperson or are you partnering with a celebrity for a new campaign?

9. Has your company earned a ranking or special recognition?

10. Have you teamed up with a non-profit or are you participating in a charity event?

5 Content Marketing Tips for Healthcare Companies

5 Content Marketing Tips for Healthcare Companies

More and more healthcare companies are making content marketing a priority, which is a good thing since the healthcare industry is notorious for lagging behind.

Yet just because it’s important, doesn’t mean your healthcare organization should move full force ahead. In fact, only 30 percent of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, according to a report by the Content Marketing Institute.

Here, read on for some ways your healthcare company can executive your content marketing strategy in a smart way, create content you can repurpose and give your business a big boost.

1. Pull together buyer personas

Flesh out your buyer personas so you know exactly who your customers are, what they need and how fill the void. Having buyer personas complete will also guide you as you create every piece of content and help you effectively target your prospects.

2. Create an editorial calendar

Your team might be strapped for time, but you can’t expect to write great content without an editorial calendar. You might be a healthcare marketer, but you need to think like a publisher.

Set a regular meeting to brainstorm ideas with your team and create an editorial calendar with at least three months worth of content. The calendar should include the story title, the type of content, the word count, keywords, who is responsible for writing it, the deadline, the date it’s scheduled to post and the channels.

Tell stories, not testimonials

Testimonials are an effective way to show prospective clients how you changed their lives but a one or two sentence quote won’t cut it. You need case studies to show your leads that your company has helped other clients just like them.

Whether it’s a patient story that makes them fill up with tears of joy or a case study about how you helped your clients increase revenue and save time, make sure you have stories that make your leads take action.

4. Repurpose and repeat

Just because you write a series of blog posts or a white paper, doesn’t mean it’s one and done.

Find ways to make your content work for you by repurposing it over and over again. Turn a bunch of related blog posts into an e-book or a white paper into a series of blog posts. Or pitch thought leadership articles, case studies and infographics to the media.

5. Keep a content inventory

Keeping tabs on your content can inform your content marketing strategy going forward. When creating your spreadsheet, include data like the URL, type, page title, post date, page views, unique visitors and social shares.