Healthcare journalists explain how you as a PR person can earn media attention for your healthcare digital products and services. (Psst: these tips are valid for almost any industry or product.)
I sport a fitness wearable. It automatically collects data (I don’t have to input anything). It runs for years on a single battery (I don’t have to find an outlet and recharge it every day). I can download, analyze and act on the data it collects just by looking at it (I don’t have to remember a password, click on anything or wait for a little bar to fill or a circle to stop spinning). If I misplace it or someone steals it, I won’t lose protected health information (I don’t have to encrypt my medical data).
What’s my innovative, transformative, digital health wearable? It’s a watch.
I use it to tell me how long I’ve been walking, running or biking when I work out. Cynical? No. Skeptical? Yes. It’s part of the job description. It comes with being a classically trained and experienced journalist. It’s a lesson public relations professionals must learn in order to be successful in getting journalists to report about their company’s new stuff.
It’s one of the many lessons offered up by a panel of four reporters during an educational session at MobCon Digital Health, a one-day conference on digital health technologies that are promising to remake how healthcare services are delivered in the U.S.
I was one of panelists for our session: “How to garner media attention for your digital healthcare product or service.” I was representing Twin Cities Business, a conference media sponsor, where I write an Explanation of Benefits column.
During the 45-minute session, my fellow reporters and I, including Joe Carlson, a former colleague at Modern Healthcare and now the medical technology reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, tossed out dozens and dozens of useful tips to public relations people who want press coverage of their company’s products. I won’t run through all of the advice, but here are 10 suggestions that I think are the most important:
- Avoid claiming your product or service is unique, first-of-its-kind or never-been-done-before, as it’s likely not the case, and the pitch will come off as more hype than hope.
- Be patient; don’t pester. Reporters are perpetually on deadlines. That’s what they do for a living. What they don’t bite on immediately, they may hold on to for future use in another story.
- Direct reporters to credible, independent sources to comment on or give context to your product or service, like a financial analyst, a user or research published in a peer-reviewed journal.
- Identify the conflict or tension in the story you’re pitching. Does your product or service disrupt the market? How does it buck conventional wisdom? Who wins and who loses if your product or service gains widespread adoption?
- Know the audience of the publication you’re targeting, and think about what that audience would want to know about your product or service. Reporters serve their audience, not your company or its shareholders.
- Know your targeted publication’s editorial calendar, if one is available, and target your pitch to a specific topic on the calendar. Make your pitch with plenty of lead-time for reporters. Don’t wait until a week before publication.
- Lead with the impact of your product or service, or the problem or challenge it overcomes. Don’t start with the technology or how the technology works.
- Quantify the impact of your product or service with a number, e.g., lives saved, time saved, money saved, etc.
- Tell reporters the price of your product or service.
- When reporters ask who your competitors are in the market, tell them. Don’t tell them you don’t have any.
Following one or more of these tips can’t guarantee earned media opportunities for your new product or service, but not following them will certainly make it tougher to get your story placed in a credible media outlet.
At the very least, be able to tell me why your digital health technology is better than my watch.
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