Many marketing leaders at healthcare tech companies often wonder what it takes to get their company covered in influential media outlets. To get a definitive answer, Swyft interviewed several current and former editors at well known publications covering the healthcare tech industry.
Here is what we learned about how to pitch your healthcare startup or enterprise to them:
Identify target media outlets
Sure, it’s easy to send off dozens of press releases to the media. But is it far more efficient and effective to pursue a handful of media outlets that are the must-reads in your industry. Identify no more than five of these, suggests Fred Bazzoli, former editor of Health Data Management. Then, dig in and plan to work with them intensively. Study up – know what segments of the industry they cover, what type of articles they publish, how long and how technical those articles are, and get to know the technical proficiencies of the editors. This information will help you craft targeted emails to them.
Think media-centric, not company-centric
You know your company, its products and their capabilities, the technologies employed, how your organization fits in the industry and more. But realize that the editors will likely not have your depth of knowledge, Bazzoli goes on to say. While they may write about healthcare technology, that doesn’t mean they are engineers. It’s better to proceed slowly and weave in some education to bring them up to speed as you work with them.
Craft short, fact-driven pitches
Whether it’s a press release or an email to an editor, the tendency is to “go long,” and try to over explain. You are far better off to keep it simple and avoid using too much inside tech jargon or sales speak. Particularly when crafting an email with a story pitch, keep it short, advises Bill Siwicki, managing editor of Healthcare IT News.
“I like PR pitches to be one succinct paragraph, explaining why this is important,” Siwicki says. “I write a lot of case studies, and in a case study pitch, I like to get to the results/outcomes very quickly. There must be results.”
Write like a journalist
Not only do story idea pitches need to be short, but they’re most effective when they are posed in a way that mimics a news story. It’s an approach editors are most familiar with, and it helps them envision a potential story, Bazzoli says.
The components to include are a “what’s the news,” information-based paragraph, known as the lead, as well as a “nut graf,” which is a paragraph that clearly explains why the story is important and why it’s critical that someone should read it. Distilling a story pitch down to its essence is difficult, but it’s akin to the 30-second elevator pitch that company executives and marketing execs develop to describe a company briefly and succinctly.
Build a relationship
There’s no instant formula for success, but it helps to invest the time in forming genuine working relationships with media outlets, Siwicki suggests. “Once I’ve worked successfully with a PR pro, I like them to establish a relationship with me. Say hello and remind me of the last time we successfully worked together when making a new pitch,” he says.
“Ask what you can do for me to make things easier on me. Let’s streamline our communications together to quickly get to a successful outcome.” Shift the focus to supporting the editor and helping them with their tasks, and you’ll stand out and gain recognition.
Intimately know the media brand
Each industry publication has a different approach, and it’s crucial to know what opportunities they present and specifically the kinds of stories they run. “I appreciate PR professionals who have taken the time to understand the kinds of stories we write, have a sense for what new products or new developments we’d be interested in covering, and know that my email inbox is very full,” explains an editor of a major healthcare IT publication. “For those pitching a new technology, being able to connect me with provider-side end-users for real-world examples is also a plus.”
Don’t be a pest
Know what editors prefer in terms of communication, and then don’t deviate and drive them crazy. Siwicki and other editors depend on email for communication. So, yes, send them a story pitch by email.
At all costs, however, avoid making follow-up phone calls to ask what they’re going to do with the story. They’ll get back to you if interested. The last thing you want to become is a pest to an editor of an influential media outlet covering your industry. Just remember that most editors are inundated with email. Bazzoli notes that he typically got 50 emails before 9 a.m. and often as many as 200 a day – even more before industry events.
Don’t pitch the same story to many outlets
There’s always a risk in sending the same story pitch out to multiple outlets, Bazzoli notes. What if two or more outlets want to write up the same story? Most editors will be upset if an identical story appears in another publication. Taking such a self-serving approach will almost always sour any chance of developing a long-term working relationship. Better to offer stories sequentially to your targeted media outlets.
Long game, not short-term gains
Few businesses are instant successes – that takes time. The same is true of a media relationship. Built carefully and nurtured, they can grow and expand, just like your business. Start small, target and hang in there for the long haul.