Marketing to HealthIT Companies PR and Communications

On the 7th Day of #HITMCChristmas … Scott Collins and Jessica Cohen from Aria Marketing

Note: In case you missed the other 12 Days of #HITMCChristmas, you can start with the first day here along with the story behind #HITMCChristmas or read all 12 days here as they are published.

On the 7th Day of #HITMCChristmas we’re excited to feature, President Scott Collins and EVP Jessica Cohen from Aria Marketing.

Tell us a little about yourselves and Aria Marketing

Scott Colins {SC}:  I started my career in high tech working at a big agency and some tech companies during the dot com boom. I really stumbled into Aria when the principals contacted me after finding an old resume of mine on Monster, but I had this idea that I should learn more about healthcare. I really fell in love with this industry and when we saw an opportunity to buy out the agency, Jessica and I knew it was not something we could pass up.  Aria has become everything we wanted agency life to be and more.

Jessica Cohen {JC}: Scott and I have been working together at Aria for over 15 years now, and I think this is the first opportunity we have had to co-byline something! I have spent my entire career at Aria: the founder of the company hired me fresh off the plane from (University of) Miami, and I never looked back. I was quickly promoted from AE to SAE;  became the company’s first director in 2011; and in 2014 when Scott acquired Aria, he named me EVP. In my tenure at Aria, I have worked with probably 100 HIT companies of all shapes and sizes and have mentored dozens of PR pros at various levels. 

Aria Marketing is an award-winning healthcare communications agency providing unmatched industry and strategy expertise, thought leadership-driven PR, and compelling creative services. Aria earned its reputation as healthcare’s leading thought leadership agency from working with some of the biggest, sharpest and most innovative healthcare organizations, from pre-angel start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

What have been the most successful marketing or PR initiatives your clients have done this year and what made them successful?

{JC}:  Despite 2020 being the most disruptive and volatile year in our careers and in Aria’s history, we managed to fairly seamlessly transition to a remote workforce and continue working clients into the news cycle. For some of our clients, that was a fairly straightforward task, as they have IT and thought leadership that plays directly into the COVID news, but for others, it required quite a bit of creative thinking to ensure they remained relevant. All in all, 2020 was a pretty successful year for Aria and our clients. We recently aggregated some of our favorite earned media pieces we secured for clients this year on our blog which you can view here: https://ariamarketing.com/blog/99-2020/december/314-aria-s-top-client-media-hits-and-pr-wins-of-2020

If you had to provide 2 keys to successful PR in this changing world, what would it be?

{SC}: 1) be authentic and 2) trust your instincts.  

There are a lot of very inauthentic and superficial voices out there and nobody gets anything useful out of them. But, when the market hears a voice that comes from a place of sincerity and lived-experience, it listens and responds.  

It can be hard to trust your instincts in the HIT world.  We are working with complicated issues and market dynamics that can be very hard to read.  Just remember that if you have the right partners with the right experience your instincts are going to be right 9 times out of 10, and the strategy that feels right in your gut is probably going to be the right one to go with.

How can a healthcare organization leverage PR expertise and announcements beyond just pitching for press coverage?

{JC}: One common misconception is that PR is just about press releases and begging journalists to write about your clients. While that certainly is part of the job, good PR is about so much more than that. It is about coming up with compelling, unique ideas or thought leadership and then using various channels and strategies to get that thought leadership into the market. We like to take a thought leadership pillar and ‘slice and dice’ it in as many different ways as possible for maximum impact. So, for example, we will take a concept like COVID-19 vaccine distribution and interoperability, and pitch an interview on the topic, write a byline, develop a blog series, secure a speaking abstract, etc.

What’s the most compelling marketing campaign you’ve ever seen (healthcare or otherwise)?

{JC}: Now that we are all working from home, we are always looking for ways to bring our team together, and we figured this question posed an opportunity to do just that. I surveyed our team about the top three most memorable and compelling campaigns, and the winners, in order, are:

  1. Smokey the Bear’s stop man-made fire campaign (fun fact: it started in 1944 and is still going strong)!  
  2. Truth anti-smoking campaign 
  3. Verizon: can you hear me now?

What advice would you give healthcare marketers as they plan for 2021?

{SC}: My advice is stay flexible, because as crazy as 2020 has been, 2021 could be just as weird.  We really just don’t know how this whole vaccination/ back to normal/ economic recovery/ new administration madness is going to play out.  Smart marketers will reassess regularly to check their bearings and make sure that they are adapting to the situation as it unfolds. 

What can the HITMC community do to help you and Aria Marketing?

{JC}: We get 90%+ of our leads/ new clients from referrals, which is something we are really proud of. So, if you know someone looking to take their PR program to the next level and think they would really benefit from a firm that knows the ins and outs of the healthcare tech space, mention Aria. We will buy you a drink the next time we are at a real life, in-person event! (Imagine that?!) 

{SC}: Stay in touch!  We love our HITMC community and we miss seeing everybody at the conferences.  It feels a little isolated out here sometimes, so reach out and ask a question, send a referral, or just say ‘Hi’!  We can’t wait to get back together with everybody in the new year. 

Be sure to follow all of the 12 Days of #HITMCChristmas.

About the author

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John Lynn

John Lynn is the Editor and Founder of the nationally renowned blog network HealthcareScene.com. The Healthcare Scene network currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 7000 articles. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. Plus, Healthcare Scene recently added Health IT focused career resources HealthcareITCentral.com and HealthcareITToday.com to the network.
 
John also co-founded two companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. Plus, John is the Founder of 10 other blogs including the Pure TV Network and Vegas Startups. John’s 25+ blogs have published over 15,000 blog posts, garnered over 30 million views and had over 122,000 comments. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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About HITMC

The Healthcare and IT Marketing Community (HITMC) is an extension of the HITMC conference that is the first of its kind event that brings together marketing and PR professionals from throughout the health care community. We strive to provide amazing marketing and PR related content that helps HealthIT companies and healthcare organizations  stand out amidst all the noise of the industry. If you’re looking to market to hospital executives, doctors, practice managers, patients, or other healthcare professionals, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the HITMC community!