How to Avoid 5 Common Healthcare PR Mistakes

Elizabeth Snell, Nov 20 2018

categories: PR

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Mistakes happen. They’re a part of life. But healthcare PR mistakes can mean your story doesn’t get covered. When you have healthcare clients, it’s critical to accurately relay their message to the public.

I’ve spent a fair portion of my professional career as a reporter and editor, including as a healthcare reporter specifically. I’ve gathered five common mistakes you may encounter, along with helpful tips on how to avoid them.

1. Crafting a generic pitch

Reporters can receive hundreds of potential pitches each week – it’s your job to make sure that your pitch stands out from all the rest. Are you able to take your client’s product or service to the next level?

For example, patient engagement is a hot topic in healthcare right now, but explain how your client is actually going to make waves in this area. It’s not enough to say “CEO John Doe predicts patient engagement to be big in 2019.” Yes, of course it’s going to be. But a pitch like “CEO John Doe stresses that telehealth is the ONLY way for doctors to practice because patients want to be engaged on their terms…”

Take a bold stance. Be truthful and honest, but understand that healthcare reporters want to cover ideas that are going to change the industry, not blend in with what is already happening.

2. Pitching the wrong outlet

The healthcare industry is large, encompassing myriad subsectors, each with their own nuances. Just because a media outlet “covers healthcare,” it’s essential to do your research and make sure that the outlet covers the specific area of healthcare you’re trying to pitch.

Smaller trade publications tend to have reporters working in niche areas, and media outlets with a local focus might want to stick to issues with state healthcare regulations, rather than federal ones. Taking the time to research what has been previously covered by the outlet you’re pitching can go a long way.

3. Not identifying the audience

It is also necessary to identify your audience. While this is connected to finding the right outlet for your client, you want to be sure that once published, your message will resonate with the targeted audience.

Is your client a cloud services provider trying to reach health systems? Then maybe you can be more technical. But, don’t use overly clinical language if you’re trying to target patients.

Reporters will definitely be a gatekeeper in this area, and know what will resonate with their readers or viewers. But you also need to know what’s going to resonate with the audience. That way you can craft the perfect pitch, with a great call to action.

4. Failing to vet or prep your source

Okay, let’s say you found the right outlet. Your pitch was interesting and on-point. Is your source ready for an interview?

Not all C-suite executives are comfortable talking one-on-one with a reporter. You need to ensure that your source will provide a newsworthy interview that leads to coverage, but you must also double – and triple – check that your source is knowledgeable on the topic at hand.

Let’s say your client is a secure texting company, and they were just chosen by a large, national health system. What’s the specific angle of the story? Does the reporter want to know the nitty gritty technical details? Maybe the CEO is not the best option. Perhaps the Chief Medical Officer can better explain potential questions.

This is also a great opportunity to ask for questions or discussion points ahead of time. Show the reporter that you want to make sure this interview is successful and worthwhile for all parties involved. Working to find the right expert can further cement your image as a solid media partner, ensuring a long-lasting relationship.

5. Not following up

Finally, you want to make sure to follow up with your pitches. This might seem like a no-brainer, but communication can realistically falter on either side.

You don’t want to pepper reporters with check-ins, but a quick “Hi, how are things going on this story?” after a week from the initial interview can be good. Additionally, establishing a regular conversation with the media can be beneficial for stories farther down the road.

Maybe an interview with your client didn’t lead to a story because of space or timing issues. But that doesn’t mean that outlet can’t use something in the future. Keep up a friendly email chain to stay in touch, letting reporters know that you are reliable and are willing to work with them to find the right story to share with the world.

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