The following article is authored by Patty Keiler, founder of Collaborate Health and expert in strategic communications, marketing, partnerships and PR.
COVID-19 has fast-tracked healthcare innovation in ways we only imagined at the start of 2020.
From virtual care to policy changes to cross-sector collaboration, the developments are piling up.
So, too, are the pitches.
Healthcare reporters are being inundated with COVID-related story ideas every day. Here, five of them share what makes a pitch stand out — during the pandemic and beyond.
During the COVID emergency, healthcare reporters and editors are getting twice or three times as many story pitches as usual. In addition, health systems and associations are putting on many more educational webinars than usual. All of this means that your PR pitches are competing with many more things for writers’ attention. I think that makes it even more important than usual to narrow the focus of your pitch and understand the publication’s scope. For instance, in the case of Healthcare Innovation, we have a strong focus on interviewing health system executives about new solutions they are deploying, but not interviewing the CEOs of health IT vendor companies. I get dozens of pitches a day from people wanting me to interview a vendor company CEO. If the PR folks know what our preference is, they can craft their pitches to our interests and have a much better chance of getting a good response.
MobiHealthNews (part of HIMSS Media)
We are getting a ton of pitches right now. We’re seeing a lot of companies coming up with tools specific to coronavirus, which are maybe a bit outside their wheelhouse but they’re pivoting quickly. What we’re curious to know is how this trend is actually going to change healthcare – both right now and in the long-term. We’re really interested in how legislation is impacting start-ups, the role of big tech, and how digital developments fit into the big picture. We are really focused on painting the full picture.
Write a compelling subject line. This was important even before Covid but more so now because of the overwhelming number of emails we are getting. If you are offering a byline, mention that in the subject line. Don’t write pitches that are five paragraphs long. We have less time than usual to read because of the volume of pitches we are getting. Two-three sentences max. Stop sending emails every day.
Do your research on the publication you are pitching to ensure your pitch fits any specific editorial guidelines they have. Keep your pitches brief and your subject lines accurate. Journalists are getting more pitches than normal, so we want to know right away what or who you are pitching.
As things with the coronavirus get more complicated, healthcare reporters want PR pros to go back to basics. Knowing the audience and keeping subject lines and pitches simple, short and specific will help earn interviews now and in the future.
Above all else, remember we share a common goal: to tell the story of how innovation is effecting real change in healthcare.