Top 5 Healthcare White Paper Mistakes

Top 5 Healthcare White Paper Mistakes

Healthcare brands know white papers are one of the most effective tools to funnel leads through the buyer’s journey. When done right, white papers primarily educate potential customers on a significant pain point or challenge they face and then—only then—offer a solution.

When it comes to planning and writing white papers however, many healthcare brands miss the mark completely. They make crucial, obvious mistakes that crush their credibility and send leads to look elsewhere for the right solution.

Here, read on for 5 of the most common white paper mistakes healthcare brands make—and how to remedy them—stat.

Mistake #1: Poor planning

As with any type of content, you must take the time to plan out your write paper before you can start writing it. It’s vital that you have actual buyer personas, not just an idea in your head, so you understand who your customers are, their pain points and the common objections they have to your product or service.

Before writing a white paper, you need to get everyone on board, including your c-suite, marketing and sales teams to ensure the topic of your white paper is something your leads need to know and want to learn more about.

Mistake #2: No creative brief

Every writing project needs a creative brief or a synopsis of the goal, specific ideas that must be included, studies and/or surveys you want to include and a targeted call to action. Whether you hire a healthcare content marketing writer or you write it in-house, you must have a creative brief to refer to.

Mistake #3: Skipping the outline

You might think having an outline will stifle your creativity, but it’s a crucial first step when writing a white paper and it will make the writing process much easier. The outline is the only way you can see how your story will flow and if it makes sense before you sit down to write. The outline also helps your team understand what the white paper will include and allows them to provide feedback and make revisions before you invest any significant time or money into the project.

Mistake #4: Talking too much about your business

The primary goal of a white paper is to educate your leads about a potential problem or challenge they’re facing. Leads that download a white paper are in the “awareness stage” of the buyer’s journey so they’re looking for information, unique insights and data.

If you start pitching your business too soon, however, it kills your credibility and will likely send your leads in another direction. Just as you would conduct a sales call: educate and inform. Then towards the end of the white paper, talk about how your offering is the solution your leads need now.

Mistake #5: No interviews or quotes

Relevant studies, surveys and data are a good start but they’re not enough to back up what you want to say, not to mention it makes for a boring read. Think of your white paper like a news story and be sure to interview c-level executives, your sales team and key stakeholders to get the entire story and compelling quotes that build your credibility and make the white paper a piece of content your leads can’t wait to read.

How This Physician Got National Media Coverage

How This Physician Got National Media Coverage

Twice a year I’m asked to speak at a national media conference with other journalists, editors, bookers and producers. The conference is for authors, entrepreneurs and small business owners—many of whom are physicians who want to get national media coverage.

After we give our best tips for how to pitch the media, there’s a “pitch fest” where the attendees offer their best story ideas to see if we’re interested.

Last year at the conference, I met a plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic procedures for men. Just a few days before the event his publicist had coincidentally pitched me a great story idea I planned to write about. Yet he had also clearly done his research because when we met, he knew exactly what types of stories I wrote about and pitched me another great idea that my editor picked up.

A few days after the interview, I got my mail and there was a small card from the physician—a note thanking me for using him as a source.

I nearly fell off my chair. I had written hundreds of stories over the years and that was the first time someone had ever done that. Not only did he go out of his way to show is appreciation, but he made an effort to establish a relationship with me so that I would keep him top of mind the next time I needed a source with his expertise.

Of course, sending a handwritten note isn’t going to get your medical practice coverage—all of the other pieces have to be in place too.

Although getting the media’s attention can challenging, with some simple strategies you can land more interviews in no time.

How To Get Media Coverage For Your Physicians

1. Be Helpful

A few months ago I was working on a story for FIRST for Women magazine.

I contacted a well-known health source who has specific expertise in the subject I was covering. I needed to interview a “real woman” source so I asked her publicist if she could refer one of her clients and we would also plug the expert in the story. There was a chance we might also interview her for a portion of the story.

Two days later after she said she’d look into it, she told me her client wasn’t interested because it was too time consuming and too much work. As a result, she missed out on opportunity to be cited and possibly quoted in a 2-page story in a leading women’s magazine that has a readership of 3.6 million.

2. Be Flexible

It sounds so obvious but you be surprised how many publicists pitch me and then when I ask to set up an interview, their physician isn’t available. In fact, last month I contacted several major hospitals because I needed a source for Everyday Health. Most of them said the deadline was too fast while others simply never got back to me.

The publicist who was able to set up an interview fast? I’ve already interviewed her source twice.

Doctors are busy, but if you’re trying to get your medical practice media coverage, make sure they have some flexibility in their schedules. Perhaps they can fit in an early morning or after office hours interview.

3. Lead With The Story

The media are inundated with hundreds of pitches every day so the chances that they’ll be interested in your story or even read your pitch are slim.

Although they need sources from top medical institutions and credentials matter, what they really need are stories.

Whether it’s the sneaky medical condition you’ve never heard of or an alarming new diet trend you’ve noticed among your patients, it’s the stories that will get you in the door—not necessarily your book, product or protocol.

4 Ways To Engage Millennials in Healthcare

4 Ways To Engage Millennials in Healthcare

Millennials are the fastest growing population in the U.S. and represent 75.4  million, exceeding Generation X and baby boomers alike, according to analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center.

When it comes to healthcare marketing however, healthcare systems must find new ways to engage with consumers to reduce attrition, lower costs and improve their scores.

Millennials are unlike other generations. They want their healthcare to be convenient, quick, cost-efficient and consumer-focused. They want to read online reviews of doctors, find credible health information, make doctor’s appointments and find out what their health insurance plan covers—with one swipe on mobile and without having to talk to a customer service representative or medical staff.

Unlike baby boomers and seniors, millennials also lack loyalty and will find a new doctor or a new health insurance plan that’s more affordable.

Here, read on for 4 ways healthcare marketers can engage millennials.


How Healthcare Can Engage Millenials


1. Create the Right Content


According to 2015 survey by ZocDoc, more than 50% of millenials say they see a doctor less than once a year, which means they’re probably missing out on preventative healthcare screenings, which could lead to costly hospital admissions and claims.

What’s more, millenials are more likely to turn to WebMD to self-diagnose or brand journalism sites like Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials for the latest health news and tips.

Instead of static, condition-focused health content, healthcare systems need to establish themselves as trusted authorities by creating timely, relevant, newsworthy content several times a week.


2. Prioritize Healthcare Video Marketing


Video marketing is one of the most effective tactics healthcare systems can use to engage millennials and foster loyalty. Healthcare systems can produce welcome messages, informational videos about certain health conditions, patient stories and testimonials or physician profiles. The key is to keep it short—less than 90 seconds is ideal.


3. Offer a Wellness Plan


When it comes to engaging millennials, wellness plans work.

When UnitedHealth Group implemented Rewards for Health, a plan which gives employees the opportunity to reduce their insurance premiums by up $1,200 per family per year for having health screenings or achieving health goals, it resulted in improved workforce health and $107 million in savings within 3 years.

Wellness plans vary but rewarding millenials for taking control of their health with gift cards, cash rewards or premium discounts can be an effective way to foster engagement.


4. Target Them With The Right Channels


By using data like demographics and opt-in preferences, healthcare systems can target millennials through the channels they prefer and are more likely to engage in such as email, social media, SMS and push notifications via an app.

In fact, 71 percent of millennials want to use a mobile app to book doctor’s appointments, share health data and manage preventive care, according to a 2015 joint survey by Salesforce and the Harris Poll.

6 Effective Ways To Market Your Medical Practice

6 Effective Ways To Market Your Medical Practice

Gone are the days when world-class doctors, reputation and referrals alone were enough for medical practices to have a steady flow of patients walking through the door.

In the ever-changing landscape of healthcare, doctors need to be smart and savvy when it comes to medical marketing. They need to use marketing strategies and tactics that will attract and retain new patients, reduce attrition and help their practices grow.

Here, read on for 6 proven ways to use marketing to grow your medical practice this year.

1. Create content

According to a report by Healthcare Insight, approximately 73 percent of healthcare marketers use content marketing and for good reason.

Posting well-researched, engaging content at least two to three times a week is one of the best ways to market to both new and existing patients.

But don’t stop at your blog. Offer a free report to those who opt-in to your mailing list, an e-book or post regular videos.

2. Strategically use social media

You might think that Facebook is the best place to share content and advertise, but that might not be the best channel to market your practice.

First find out where your current and prospective patients hang out. If you’re trying to market to those between 18 and 29 years old, Facebook is probably the way to go, but not so for Medicare patients, for example.

3. Show off

When patients look for a new doctor, they crave authenticity, transparency and trust. Referrals are always best but if they’re searching online, they’ll look for reviews and what people say on social media.

Testimonials can help too, and although many medical practices will include them on their websites, most fail to include stories, or case studies, about how they helped a patient find a cure for their fatigue or prevent a heart attack, for example.

4. Host an event

When patients have the opportunity to meet their physicians, they’ll feel more comfortable with receiving care.

In fact, 85 percent of people said it’s important to have a doctor who listens to them and 71 percent said they want a doctor who is caring and compassionate, a study in the Journal of Participatory Medicine found.

Aim to have an event at least once a month at your practice, at the local chamber of commerce office or the local library.

Host casual meet and greets and special events to present a timely and relevant topic that your patients want to know, such as “5 Myths About IVF,” or “How to Optimize Your Fertility.”

Cater the food and wine, have a raffle and ask everyone to bring a friend to increase your referrals.

5. Send direct mail

Direct mail is not dead. In fact, in 2015, direct mail volume was down but data spend saw an increase. Take advantage of newcomer’s clubs or purchase lists and send a letter and a brochure about your practice.

Although you may not see an immediate flood of calls, people keep paper and will call when they need you. Include information about the doctors, their services and what patients can expect.

6. Keep in touch

Medical practices need to think like brands and make patient loyalty a priority. Patients want to feel that their physicians actually care so think about special opportunities throughout the year to keep patients engaged.

Send cards for birthdays and anniversaries, SMS or direct mail reminders for annual wellness visits, mammograms and prostate screenings or a monthly newsletter with targeted health tips.

How to Pitch the Media: 10 No-Fail Strategies

How to Pitch the Media: 10 No-Fail Strategies

If you’re part of an internal public relations team or represent clients, you know one of the biggest challenges you face is how to get the media interested in your stories, your products and your campaigns.

You might work for weeks at pitching and then cross your fingers and hope to get those coveted media hits.

How to write a pitch and get the media’s attention is something I’m asked to speak about frequently. In fact, last month I was a guest panelist for the Public Relations Society of America New York Chapter’s Meet the Media: Healthcare event.

unnamed                                                                      Credit: Cherry Dumaual

I enjoyed speaking with the public relations teams about the types of stories I write, what journalists look for in pitches and how to get placement. Here are some tips we spoke about and a few more.

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 written for them. Sure, you might pitch a health story but it 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 and personalized for the media outlet and the journalist you’re pitching.

2. Cut to the chase.
According to a survey by, 52% of journalists write at least 5 articles per week so suffice it to say they have less than a minute to scan your email and decide if it’s a good idea or not.

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. Don’t pitch topics, pitch stories.

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 content.

It’s no longer enough to simply be an expert, you need to think of yourself as a publisher too. Content marketing and public relations go hand in hand.

Writing your own content will establish your company as a thought leader, build brand awareness and help reporters searching for a source find you.

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 shoot 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. Be 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 interview.
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 you’ll come up with plenty of new story ideas to pitch

How To Sell the Healthcare C-Suite On Content Marketing

How To Sell the Healthcare C-Suite On Content Marketing

It’s one of the biggest challenges my clients face: how to get their c-level executives to buy into the value of content marketing.

Healthcare technology start-ups are more likely to be early adopters but for large hospitals, physician practices and health insurance plans, getting c-suite buy-in is still a challenge for many healthcare marketers.

Without your executives on board, you’ve got your hands tied when it comes to getting the budget approved, recruiting doctors and other key players to contribute and share content, and most importantly, meeting your sales goals.

Although selling your c-suite on content marketing may initially be an obstacle, there are several strategies you can use to get them to sign off in no time.

Pitch the “why”

In your initial meetings, think of yourself as a publicist pitching a story idea to the media. Just like journalists, editors and producers, your executives need to know why in order to say yes.
You must make a compelling business case for content marketing and list of all the reasons they need to start now. They must know why relevant, timely stories are vital for lead generation, acquisition and retention and why one-way marketing and advertising alone is no longer enough.

Use data

Do your own research and pull together surveys, white papers and special reports that point to the value of content marketing and how other businesses like yours get results.

Explain how you’ll do it

Once you have your content marketing strategy and buyer personas in place, share the tactics you plan to use to attract and retain customers. Make sure however, that each type of content you plan to create is connected with your company’s overall objectives to build brand awareness, strengthen credibility and grow revenue, for example.

Show them the competition

Your c-suite knows they must keep up with the ever-changing landscape of healthcare and one of their pain points is being left behind. To make your case even stronger, show them examples of how your competitors are using content marketing to get results.

Prove ROI

Before they make any business decision, your executives must know what their return on investment will be. When it comes to content marketing however, it’s not always so clear-cut. Unlike a one-time marketing campaign or an ad, content marketing is a long-term strategy that takes time to attract, convert and retain buyers.

Keep in mind that your executives also don’t care about page views, click rates or social shares, although they do pay attention to traffic.

According to a report by True North Custom, about 43 percent of healthcare executives said that measuring the effectiveness of their content was one of their most significant challenges and nearly 80 percent use website traffic to measure content marketing success. They also want to know how content marketing will engage their buyers, build brand awareness, forge relationships and foster loyalty.

Although it will probably take time to get a 100 percent buy-in from your executives, when they start to see results from your initial efforts, your business case will be even stronger and they’ll be more engaged than ever.