Pitch Smarter: Build Valuable Relationships With Editors
In my last post, I gave you the top gripes of health IT magazine editors. Of course they also offered tips for winning them over. After all, when you pitch well it makes their lives easier. If you deliver the content they want, they will reach your audience with content that will benefit readers. Done right, it’s a win win relationship.
Here are the top tips for PR success from four high-profile health IT magazine editors:
1. Be Extremely Relevant
John Lynn, top blogger on all things EMR & HIPAA, says first, be interesting. “I appreciate PR people who make my job easier… If your email is compelling up front I’ll dig in more. Make it easy to understand the message. Tell me what you are really offering up front. How does your company fit into what you just talked about?”
The most successful pitches “are on target with our coverage areas and audience,” says Gary Baldwin, editor or Health Data Management. Get to know the subjects he covers regularly, then “offer suggestions on how [your] clients can offer different takes on these topics.” This may be obvious to the average PR pro but often ignored because of pressure from the client to get the marketing message through editorial. Baldwin says a pitch that is both relevant to his readership and already in line with the magazine’s voice gets his attention.
Baldwin appreciates a prompt response and quality sources from PR people. “They source leads for me. They promptly give me the names of hospitals and medical groups doing x, y, z, the name of the source … say an administrator from a medical group, and their email… They don’t put the product front and center.”
2. Give Detailed, Concrete Examples
Mark Hagland of Healthcare Informatics looks for pitches that demonstrate quality improvements in healthcare, and are backed by solid data. These pitches already contain the building blocks of a compelling story for his audience of physicians and healthcare administrators. Hagland says, “When I get a pitch that is a precise, detailed case study that is very relevant for what our audience wants, I love it.”
Don’t despair if you don’t have a vendor story just like the example above. Aim to demonstrate how the company’s product is pioneering or making improvements in its field. Lynn calls this part of the PR “marketing burden.” Some companies aren’t very cutting edge, but it’s up to the PR pro to “dig in and find the jewels.”
3. Sources, Sources, Sources
Good sources typically mirror the readership of a publication. Ken Congdon, Editor in Chief at Healthcare Technology Online, says “my primary sources for all articles [are] technology decision makers and leaders of healthcare providers–the actual users of health IT products and services.” His holy grail is “a leader at a healthcare provider ready and willing to talk to me candidly about their IT implementations, including the challenges and the benefits.”
Baldwin probably won’t reach out to software vendors, or anyone who merely wants to “sell and promote their products.” He does, however, appreciate speaking with independent analysts and consultants who can share valuable research.
4. Form a Relationship
Not a new concept for sure. Baldwin says that most of the PR people he works with take the initiative to find out what he most needs. Here’s a hint: it’s not press releases. His go-to PR contacts choose an item from his editorial calendar and offer sources. They take a “helpful approach; they’re not just looking for a free commercial.”
Lynn gives some candid advice for those seeking to build a relationship: “Tell me something you know about me, like ‘I know you love EMR so you’ll be interested in X company because….’” This kind of personalization grabs his attention and makes him much more likely to respond.
Lynn truly cares about creating deeper relationships within his industry. If you bump into him at a conference, or set up a meeting, don’t be afraid to “get into the details and debates.” As he puts it, “It’s one thing to meet, but it’s better [for me] to have story to write later.”
The Bottom Line: Be Valuable
Across the board, health IT editors interviewed appreciate honest, relational PR pros who thoroughly understand their work and goals. Do your job with an eye toward what makes their jobs easier: relevant content supported by compelling examples and sources. Pitch to the individual, provide what they need today, and you’ll double your chances of getting them to open your emails.