By Jon Davis
How far ahead should you plan for a health tech or healthcare media launch?
Much of that depends on the type of healthcare product or service you are launching, but one thing that doesn’t change is the actual game plan, according to top media strategist, Mark Macias – founder and owner of Macias PR.
Macias – who has led media campaigns for Columbia University Medical Center (Department of Orthopaedics), Burke Rehabilitation Center, Find Your Trainer, Medicaid Advisory Group, Albert Ellis Institute and others – says the most successful media campaigns start with a 60-day game plan.
“In team sports, you need a game plan to keep the team focused and aligned,” Macias said. “It’s no different with health tech or healthcare PR, especially when you are dealing with different departments and agendas. A solid 60-day game plan can keep the media strategy focused at the start, especially as you are assessing and adapting to the media’s questions.”
Before he founded his PR firm, Macias was the Executive Producer of Special Projects at NBC in New York where he led the health, medical and consumer units. There, he approved story ideas from publicists, reporters and producers, and approved every reporter and producer script that came out of the medical, health and consumer units. Macias said there were many times a story wouldn’t make television because it was missing an element.
“There are many elements required for TV and print, especially when it comes to health tech or healthcare stories. If you pitch a story, but miss one of these elements, you hurt your chances for coverage,” said Macias. “If you’re pitching a trend story, you better have the data to back it up. You also need a character in place to better demonstrate the story with the media.”
Here are five items that Macias says every media campaign launch should start with.
If you’re using any data for your media campaign, make sure you acquire it before your campaign starts. Macias says this will keep your campaign more efficient and streamlined.
“There’s nothing worse than waiting for data, while your PR sits and waits for the data team to crunch the numbers,” Macias said. “It’s good for them, but it’s never good for your media launch because it only delays everything.”
“This might sound like common sense, but make sure your product is available for the public during your media launch,” Macias said. “If you plan on updating the product in the few weeks after the media campaign, consider promoting the more updated product version with the media and brand it as an advanced look at the upgraded product.”
Line up your Experts
“Healthtech products and services require experts to explain how the technology, app or service is improving lives,” Macias said. “You need to identify these experts to speak on behalf of your product and make sure they have the credentials to actually support their analysis.”
Macias says investors don’t count as experts.
“I’ve had a lot of health tech clients that wanted the media to speak with their investors. That doesn’t help with consumer publications. It might help with a business story, but for a story that demonstrates the consumer value, you need an expert who is knowledgeable about your product.”
Source your Research
Macias says you’re making any healthcare claims, make sure you source the material because any solid medical or science reporter, including inexperienced reporters, will want to hear about the research behind the product or service.
“Most medical stories are driven by research, but not just any research,” Macias said. “If you’re pitching a science reporter, he’s going to want to see peer-reviewed research. Anecdotal evidence isn’t going to sell your health tech story with the most respected medical or science journalists.”
Identify Potential Clients or Customers for the Narrative
Macias says the best PR stories are told by others. That’s what separates PR from marketing.
“If you can line up customers, patients or enterprises who use your product or service, your story will sound stronger. It will also sound less like a commercial, which most experienced science and health reporters can screen a mile away.”