Getting positive stories placed in your local media can be a great challenge for healthcare organizations. Sometimes it seems that negative stories find their way to the front page with little or no opportunity to respond while positive stories get buried on page three.
I had the opportunity to speak at the 2008 Kentucky Society of Hospital Public Relations and Marketing (KSHPRM) fall educational seminar last week. At the meeting, there was a fascinating presentation by Sarah Vos, Public Health Reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
It’s interesting to watch the reporter get questions from the PR professionals. There was some real frustration amongst the group. That frustration is the result of a gap in communications between what health reporters need and what hospitals are providing.
Health reporters need something interesting and newsworthy to build stories. What they receive far too often are stories like “we got a new machine.” It turns out reporters don’t like writing about new hardware!
The key element that our PR groups miss is that we’re making reporters work to find out if the items we’re proposing are newsworthy, work to assemble the story and work to make the story more than a blatant promotion for your institution. If it’s hard, they won’t do it.
A few pointers for finding success in getting your stories presented:
- Pitch the unique angle, not the facts of the story. If you’re opening a new service, why is it exciting? How does it impact the lives of consumers in the community? How does it change the patient experience? What’s so unique about it?
- Make it topical rather than strictly a promotion for your organization.
- Introduce personal interest components. Do you have patient examples?
- Make it easy!
On the other hand, one attendee admitted to working through their account executive for ad sales to get articles presented. Not a textbook approach, but if it works for you…