Strategic media relations for a medical practice
Healthcare media relations is an aspect of public relations that focuses solely on the relationship between a medical practice and the media, whether that’s broadcast, print or internet. You could say media relations is one of the key tools in the hands of public relations experts.
Vanguard Communications is the middle man/woman between our clients and the media. Media exposure can create great value for a medical practice by getting your name out there and showing potential new patients why your practice stands out from competitors.
Healthcare media relations can be used to get attention for new research, localize national medical news coverage, spotlight a medical human interest story, highlight specialties of the practice and much more. Such coverage is called earned media, because we have to go out and get it. Earned media is crucial to brand reputation and is included in most MedMarketLink programs.
In public relations, we call a concerted effort to earn media on a designated topic a campaign, as it usually involves more than one component, and we often include a related patient story on the website. The most common way to start a media campaign is with a press release, also called a news release. The most important thing about a press release is knowing the news value of the topic and what aspects of it will appeal to the media outlet. These affect the way we write the release.
The release will communicate the most important message to the news media. The press release does not have to include every detail but rather grab the attention of a reporter or producer.
In many cases we use creative storytelling to portray a practice’s point of view to gain media exposure. Having a patient quoted and available for interviewing can have a significant impact on earning media attention. Adding a person who the general public can relate to increases your chances of media pickup greatly. The reason is human interest, one of the most common methods of news/information delivery in the media.
Once the press release is complete, we send it to the media via email, news wire services and/or through social media. In many instances we follow up right away with a personal phone call to the reporter or assignment editor.
Connecting with journalists
The reality of today’s media landscape is that journalists have a broader range of topics to cover and fewer resources to do so. Our experienced public relations team understands how to effectively choose and connect with media personnel using the appropriate messaging to achieve the goals of the stories being told.
When we contact the media about potential press coverage, that’s called a pitch. Many pitches are done via the press release, while we also pitch a reporter directly with an informal email or call presenting the salient points of the news topic. Personal pitches often can be very effective.
In between pitches, our public relations team fosters connections with journalists in the client’s local area and across the United States to keep the relationships strong. We work on getting you in front of the right audiences at the right time through the right media channels.
Vanguard keeps lists of the media we have contacted in the past. This allows us to track all previous interest in the practice. This list is updated for each media pitch to make sure we stay up to date with journalists who may have changed jobs.
Vanguard may also optimize a press release on a news wire service to have news sources across the United States see and quite often add the story to their website.
Every story is only as good as the messenger. Vanguard can coach the doctors, executives or patients to get the most of a media opportunity. Being well-prepared for an interview is key, we can help with brainstorming possible questions and aid with talking points. Knowing what to expect and how to answer questions can ease nerves and make an interviewee come off as polished, leaving a good impression of the practice.
Sharing your media placements
Once your practice has received media placements (coverage), it is important to showcase them on your website for others to see. As part of our healthcare media relations for our clients, we make an In the News section to highlight all media placements. This will get the most out of your media placement, showing website visitors your staff’s expertise in a specific area.
Sharing media placements on social media also can help spread awareness of the article. Share soon and often on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to help your followers see you as an expert. Hint: These posts make for a great #throwbackthursday.
Another great place to share your media placements is in your newsletter. Vanguard uses electronic newsletter for their clients that are emailed out to interested parties. Similar to social media, this allows you to have people who already know something about your practice learn more and see you as a leader on a specific topic.
In today’s world of real-time media updates, crisis communication can be a critical way to handle feedback during a 24/7 news cycle. Crisis communication is a form of PR that seeks to defend a practice or person whose reputation is under public challenge. Be it a cryopreservation tank failure or a tweet gone wrong and viral, Vanguard can help navigate any crisis communications storm.
The Vanguard Communications team is made up of expert strategists who can help create and execute a crisis communications program to navigate the troubled waters and resurface even stronger.
We can help whether the story is true, false or misinterpreted. How you respond on behalf of the company can determine public perception for new patients and have lasting effects on your practice growth.
A crisis communications plan can include internal communications to the staff and past and current patients, an external response to the community, and talking points for media interviews.
HIPAA compliant healthcare media relations
No matter if it is crisis communications or a planned media campaign, it is critical to make sure that the practice is not breaking any HIPAA regulations. We at Vanguard have undergone extensive HIPAA training and can help our clients have a successful media campaign without sharing any protected patient health information.