Do you have a great healthcare story to share, but struggle to find the best way to get reporters to agree?
My team led a panel at MATTER, a PCI partner and a Chicago-based health tech incubator and collaboration hub, where four leading healthcare journalists from Built in Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Modern Healthcare and Crain’s Chicago Business offered tips on how to convince reporters that your story is one they’ll want to share with their audiences. Here are five takeaways:
1. Establish rapport and build genuine relationships with the media.
Reporters are more likely to consider a story pitched by a source they know and trust. And a genuine relationship means you’re willing to help out a reporter with information even when there’s no direct benefit to your organization. Look beyond the immediate goal of getting your story placed; your long-term goal is to become a valued media source.
2. Make sure your story demonstrates an outcome.
How does your story end? Ideally with a positive impact. Does your story demonstrate how your organization or product makes things better for an industry, for doctors, for patients? Make sure you tell your story in a way that helps the reporter, and ultimately the audience, understand why they should care.
3. Don’t be a pest, but do be persistent.
Pitches can get lost in a sea of emails and most reporters are too busy to drop what they’re doing and respond immediately to your pitch. So do follow up by phone or with another email. When does being persistent turn you into a pest? Use your best judgment and remember to follow Tip #1. You’ll have more leeway with a reporter with whom you’ve developed a good relationship. Also keep in mind that reporters often keep story ideas on file for when the time is right.
4. Get to the point.
Reporters don’t have time to read long pitches, or try to figure out what you’re getting at. Be clear, concise and direct, and put the good stuff in the subject line and the first sentence of your email.
5. Do your research.
Make sure your pitch is directed to the right journalist at the right company within the right industry. Know who you’re writing to or calling, and make sure the information is relevant to that person. When you contact the wrong person, you waste everyone’s time and lose credibility.