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Unlocking healthcare media relations success: 9 essential insights your agency wants you to know

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Ensuring media relations success with an agency is a two-way street, especially in healthcare, requiring a team of media relations experts and an informed client. While there’s no expectation for clients to know it all, KNB Communications shares 9 insights to help you get inside a reporter’s head and secure winning relationships with the media.

1. Think stories, not sales

Reporters are not an extension of your sales team and are not interested in selling your product. Successful pitches (and compelling stories) reflect the impacts of a product or service, not the product or service itself.

2. Play cupid

Access = success. Pairing your media relations agency with your favorite customer, patient, or end user is a match made in (media) heaven. These individuals make great storytellers and can elevate your product or service without the hard sell.

3. Don't play hard to get

An agency is dually responsible for protecting its media relationships AND  your company's reputation. Respect a reporter’s time and deadlines. Barring a true emergency, don’t cancel or attempt to reschedule interviews at the last minute or miss confirmed deadlines.

4. No do-overs

Once materials are reviewed, approved, and submitted for publication, requests for additional revisions will not be accepted. The one exception? If something is no longer factually correct (i.e., the byline author received a promotion and their title is no longer accurate). 

5. No peeking

If you were planning to interview a candidate for a job and they asked to see the interview questions prior, you’d be annoyed and surely wouldn’t hire that candidate. The same is true for media. Don’t ask or expect to see questions in advance. Occasionally, if the topic is especially complex, or we're trying to determine the best subject matter expert (SME), a journalist will share some details but allow your agency to manage the communications. No peeking also applies to the finished product. Journalists rarely share the final piece with you before publishing, and requesting to review is a sign of distrust. 

6. Say "yes" to the request

Sometimes your agency will approach you with a media opportunity that sits slightly outside of your key areas of interest. For companies engaging in media relations for the first time or re-engaging, these opportunities are worth considering for several reasons:

  • Coverage builds credibility – journalists often want to read or view past coverage before agreeing to speak with an expert.
  • New content is king – adding a steady flow of news coverage to your website can increase your SEO and boost web traffic.
  • Participation fosters relationships – building a reputation as a go-to resource means reporters are more likely to reach out when they need a source in the future.

7. No surprises

Subject matter experts (SMEs) are not interchangeable. Reporters often research, and vet SMEs before the scheduled interviews, so one expert filling in for another can cause frustration if the reporter hasn't approved this ahead of time. It can also appear unprofessional to invite additional guests to schedule interviews. While sometimes a client's legal representation may be required, let your agency request this approval. 

8. Some things are proprietary

Media relations experts spend decades cultivating relations with journalists, and they trust us to keep their contact information private. Journalists lean on agency partners to bring them vetted, appropriate stories, and they prefer media relations professionals to play the role of the middleman. 

9. Preparation may be a one-way street

KNB Communications provides a media briefing sheet to clients before the interview. While we use this as a tool to ensure preparedness – don't be alarmed if the reporter isn't equally as organized. Journalists and writers are often handed a story hours before the deadline and have little time to research. Don't be exasperated, upset, or talk down to them – use this as an opportunity to educate!

Emily Boland

With over a decade of experience in healthcare, Emily spent the last several years as a Marketing + Product Director with an accessibility-focused medical device start-up company, managing an interdisciplinary team in a highly regulated industry. Her passion and focus stem from a collective and joined empathy toward the patients her clients serve. Emily is responsible for ensuring clients achieve results on time and above expectations!


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