It’s no news that media environment is in constant flux – newsrooms are shrinking, science and medical beat reporters from top tier outlets are moving to more niche outlets and print magazines are disappearing. It’s incumbent on us as PR professionals to keep abreast of the latest developments and counsel our clients so we can deliver more effective results. I sat down with a few InventivHealth media specialists – Danielle Burrick, Lauren Clark, Ashley Paskalis and Judy Welage – to discuss the latest consumer media trends and tips for pitching health stories. Here are my key takeaways:
- Consider paid integration. It’s getting harder to get branded mentions in consumer media; editors are generally more interested in disease state info. You may have better chances of success if you embrace paid integration, which may open the door to editorial consideration. Due to trends in revenue streams consumer media is increasingly relying on spend from healthcare organizations and may be open to integrating a specific health focus/mention as a result. These days paid integration is becoming more sophisticated and seamlessly and authentically integrated into editorial content.
- Be agile and get creative. Don’t pitch the same old, same old just because that’s what you used to do 10, 20 years ago. Surveys, static infographics, awareness days and videos may no longer be effective coverage drivers. They may be more useful for social, owned and paid media. Additionally, features are no longer as prevalent as they were in the past – increasingly, consumer outlets are publishing shorter, more digestible content. Get creative, pay attention to what’s covered in that particular outlet and find a way to get your message in – think lists, tips, interactive elements and even recipes.
- If at first you don’t succeed, think of alternate ways to approach an outlet. Can you reframe your pitch, jump on another relevant fact and instead of a health reporter pitch to a lifestyle reporter? Or consider this: the national nightly newscast and print outlets have limited space, which is why you may have a better shot with the online versions. Additionally, an outlet may not want to cover your data release but they may want to mention a digestible, consumer-friendly data nugget combined with practical implications for their readers.
- Make friends with freelancers. With shrinking newsrooms, editors are busier than ever, reporters have to cover many beats and freelancers are becoming more important. Freelancers often work for multiple media outlets so be sure to keep them in the loop and make yourself a valuable resource.
- Identify superstar patients to tell a compelling story. Media outlets are still looking for patient stories, but are upping the ante. They are looking for multifaceted patients who’ve not only overcome significant barriers as it relates their illness but also manage to do something very impressive despite of their health condition (e.g., run a nonprofit).
- Help A Reporter Out. This is still a good tool to identify opportunities to engage with reporters on deadline; but beware, a lot of the reporter requests may not be applicable to what you are looking for. For those that are relevant, keep in mind that most often reporters are on very tight timelines. Be sure to have a spokesperson/assets on hand to respond quickly. If one spokesperson isn’t available, have a back up. As always, be strategic in who you pitch and don’t pitch what you can’t deliver.
Media industry is redefining itself and there is no longer a one-size-fit all approach. If we want to score earned coverage on behalf of our clients, we have to be true to Adapt or Die approach – keep an eye out on emerging trends, think creatively, be attuned to what an outlet covers and find a way to partner with relevant media outlets in a way that’ll help accomplish client goals.