How, When and Why Media Relations Fits Into Your Marketing Mix (Part 1)
By Linda Kaplan, MHA
Our clients frequently ask us how they can get their practice mentioned in the news.
The short answer is: “Do you have stories that readers of news organizations would be interested in? And do you have the proper tools ready in which to share those stories with reporters for consideration?”
If you answered “No” to either of the above questions, then I encourage you to read the long answer.
Simply, the news media want to run with stories that their readers/viewers will find interesting. A community paper wants local, human-interest news, a business paper wants financial, industry, real estate, and/or human resources news, and a television news station wants compelling visual stories.
Additionally, editors and reporters want to receive story ideas in an appropriate format that makes it easy for them to learn and report on the subject matter.
In this article (Part 1), I will discuss how to develop interesting story ideas. In our next blog post (Part 2), I will discuss the proper tools to use and the protocol to follow when you want to pitch a story.
But before we dive in, let’s review some fundamental concepts about Media Relations:
What is media relations?
- Media Relations is a term that refers to the relationships an organization develops with journalists
- Media Relations and Public Relations are related, but they are not the same – Media Relations refers specifically to the relationship that an organization develops with media outlets, while Public Relations extends that relationship beyond the media to the general public.
What media relations is not
- A quick route to get on Good Morning America or meet Diane Sawyer
- A replacement for traditional marketing efforts
- Free (necessarily)
- A guarantee…of anything
Why is media relations important?
- It’s a business building tool
- It enhances your credibility
- It can change/influence a perception or position
- It may position you/your practice as expert
What is the difference between media relations and advertising?
- Message control – your press release could be edited, an ad would not be
- Cost – ad space may be more expensive than a good Media Relations person
- Perception/credibility – someone else is writing/talking about the practice in a news article
How do you get your story in the news?
- Make sure you have an interesting story
- Focus on building relationships with members of the media (be nice)
- Think about developing a Media Relations plan rather than pitching a single story
- Target the appropriate reporter or editor – someone who covers your topic
- Most importantly, use the proper tools and follow the prescribed protocol for communicating with reporters
Developing Interesting Story Ideas: What’s Important to You May Not Be Important to the Media
- The fact that your practice exists does not make you interesting (sorry, I know I’ve just offended a few people-but know that your mother is still very proud of you!). The fact that your practice just purchased a state-of-the-art CT scanner-and it’s the only one within 30 miles-is interesting
- The fact that you cured a dog with Kennel Cough does not make the story newsworthy. The fact that you are seeing a Kennel Cough trend come through your ER and you want to alert the public to a possible outbreak may be newsworthy
- The fact that you’ve hired a new doctor may or may not be of interest to a local publication. The fact that you’ve hired the only board-certified cardiologist in the county makes for an interesting angle
- The fact that you’re attending the Pet Expo is not interesting. The fact that you’re attending the Pet Expo and offering free eye exams by a board-certified ophthalmologist is interesting
There are endless story ideas in your practice that are worthy of mentions in the news. Click here to review a more comprehensive list of ideas by category. Importantly, make sure that your stories are connected to your overall business objectives for the year. For instance, if you’re trying to increase your oncology caseload, don’t pitch stories about orthopedic surgery capabilities. Rather, pitch interesting case studies, the role ultrasound plays in diagnosis, new medications that are available, clinical trials you’re accepting patients for, etc.
In Part 2, we will discuss the proper protocol to follow when pitching stories to the press.
If you would like to learn more about Media Relations, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949.756.8071.