Avoid These PR Mistakes: Top Gripes of Health IT Magazine Editors
I recently interviewed several Health IT magazine editors on what they want PR people in the healthcare sector to know. I asked them to tell me the top three mistakes PR professionals make when contacting and pitching them. I’ve compiled the most common faux pas to help us all pitch smarter.
1. Learn About Our Publication.
No surprise there. According to Gary Baldwin, Editorial Director of Health Data Management, too many PR people have “no understanding of our publication.” They haven’t taken the time to read the magazine, or browse the website. And it’s obvious because the PR pro doesn’t have a grasp of HDM’s specific editorial approach. They pitch a story that isn’t remotely related to healthcare or politics, let alone health IT.
Ken Congdon, Editor in Chief at Healthcare Technology Online, says. “Our audience is made up of IT decision makers…from healthcare providers,” says Congdon. So why is he receiving pitches for articles targeted to payers, medical device manufactures, and other companies that are “not the intended audience of the content [they] produce”?
2. Give Me a Story
Mark Hagland, Editor in Chief of Healthcare Informatics, often receives pitches that push a product or vendor, or announce a change in leadership. New hires and product features aren’t newsworthy. What’s the significance? What value does your story hold for our readers?”
Congdon echoes Hagland, saying “A product announcement today should do more than just outline the features of the product. It should illustrate how healthcare providers [are] benefitting from the product.” And that means specific examples and testimonials from actual users.
John Lynn, an influential health blogger at EMR & HIPAA says he receives lengthy pitches “describing the market.” “I already knows the market.” What he doesn’t know is what your company is really changing. “Tell me, why should I care?” Your “story” needs to involve a noteworthy trend, or “a milestone number that shows…the company’s significance in the market.”
3. Think of Others
Hagland has had PR reps tell him they don’t have time to read or learn about his publication. One person in particular called promoting a medical device, but it didn’t connect to EMR in any way. This person wanted him to cover the company anyway.
Baldwin says he gets vendor surveys that were clearly manipulated to get the most favorable results for the company. Baldwin’s response is succinct: “I don’t buy your survey.”
Congdon offers some helpful advice: “Understand our audience and why it’s important to our readership. Put value in the subject line and pitch. Not just, ‘ABC Company Announced XYZ’ or ‘Article Idea.’” Ideally, this comes easily. If you speak to why the product or company matters to its customeres, and why it will matter to readers, then Congdon is much more willing to follow up.
4. You Called Me
Lynn doesn’t mince words, saying “I hate when PR people call me. It’s my digital bias.” But it’s not just his bias. Hagland says it’s already too much for him to slog through the sometimes 200 pitches emailed each day. There just isn’t time for the added labor of listening to voicemails and returning calls.
It’s the “sheer quantity of pitches that a lot of companies bombard us with,” says Baldwin. PR pros “will send a press release…then call and ask if we got it, then, if they don’t reach us, send it again, then call me again. That backfires every time.” He also gets straight to the point: “I don’t want phone calls. Just email me.”
So What’s the Right Way to Pitch?
Fortunately these health IT editors also told me the top three things they appreciate or find helpful when working with PR professionals. I will cover that in my next post, so your company can delight them with interesting, value-packed pitches that make it to print.