Since we cannot see the radio interview, it’s good to develop a character in the interview who will be memorable to listeners. It can also be effective to tell a specific story about something your doctor did to help a patient and their reaction, or why a charity event had a strong impact on the people it benefited. Peddie says it’s about creating memories in the mind because there is no video to watch.
3. Push Through the Newsroom Maze
Maybe the biggest challenge to actually getting your story idea covered is pushing through the newsroom maze. It is great to have a strong story idea and a well-written news release, but you must know how to clear the hurdles and walk your story idea through the newsroom’s internal channels. Newsrooms are chaotic places many hours of the day, and you have to cut through the chaos to connect with someone who can advocate for your news release.
It’s important to know who the newsroom decision makers are, when they are locked away in meetings and when they are up against their most stressful deadlines. If you call the TV newsroom’s assignment desk three minutes before a newscast or during the middle of breaking news, they might remember you for all the wrong reasons.
You should also remember that if you don’t call after you send a news release, you are leaving your push for news coverage hanging in the balance. Call the news desks at the appropriate time to make sure someone actually sees your news release and skims the headline. Otherwise, it could get buried in the swirling shuffle of emails, phone calls, interruptions and redirections.
Building relationships with editors, health reporters and story planners is a strong strategy. They are open to hearing your ideas if you present them briefly and in an organized way. Guest Bookers can really help your cause if they like your story idea. A guest booker spends much or his or her shift working to find interesting guests to do news interviews. If they book your doctor as a guest, you can help them by getting them information quickly, sending them talking points, Skype addresses, cell phone numbers and handling logistics to make their lives easier.
Need a strategy for getting your expert locked in on speed dial when the news producers need to find someone quickly for an interview? If your team is easy to work with and you always say “Yes, I can do that interview”, they will keep calling you. The rule is to never say no to the invitation. Don’t let someone else sit in the guest’s chair and steal your doctor’s glory!
4. Time Your Event to Win Coverage
This next topic is a critical consideration that some groups don’t think enough about, and it can make all the difference between getting on the news and feeling disappointment after all of the work you put into pitching the news media. You have to time your event to win coverage.
Set up your event or make your expert available at a time when reporters can actually get there. It’s tempting to have a relaxing event with a large crowd during the weekend, but if you really want news coverage, you need to plan your event on a weekday morning.
Why? Because newsroom staffs are shrinking across America, and they often don’t have enough reporters or videographers to cover your weekend event. Those news crews have to cover breaking news first, so your event has to be second and not fifth on their list of possible stories for it to win coverage.
Schedule your story or news conference at 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. on a weekday, when there are more reporters and videographers working. This gives the dayside news crew time to attend their morning meeting and get to your event. If your event is brief, you might get covered on the Noon newscast and again on the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.
Everyone likes to work with someone who makes their lives easy. That’s why it’s helpful to understand “cut off times”. A TV news crew must quickly complete two different tasks to get a story on the news on time.
- Part A of their job is to quickly find the person they are going to interview. This is why it is a huge benefit for your doctor to be on speed dial.
- Part B is to put the story together and to be ready to do their live appearance in the newscast, or to make sure their edited story gets fed back to the station on time.
So the reporter and videographer have to interview their expert or story character, pick the video clips they will use, write the story, edit the story, set up their live shot and be in place for their appearance in the newscast. The clock never stops for them despite the pitfalls that pop along the way. You want to be available to the news crew as quickly as you can, as close to their location as possible and with the least amount of drama possible.
The other part of timing your story to win news coverage is making sure it is a timely story in line with the issues and topics the newscasts are covering at the time you want your story to go public. Don’t schedule a story about a ribbon cutting at a new doctor’s location on the same day that your Governor is in town discussing why his or her COVID-19 response plan does not seem to be working.
During the last several months, our team has come up with several timely story pitches for our doctors’ group clients, focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic. If that’s the hottest topic where you are, focus on a news release that appeals to the broadest audience within the general public. That’s why the news is called broadcasting.
We have successfully leveraged news releases about the future of telemedicine, a scholarship awards ceremony that had to be held virtually due to social distancing, and digital eye strain from working at home during the pandemic, into stories that got covered in the news. Sometimes, you can pitch your story as a badly needed break from COVID-19 overload, and get a story covered in the news that way.
5. Join the Newsroom Team
“Welcome to the newsroom. Please sign in here. Now where is that video you have for us?” Those shrinking newsroom staffs mean you can join the newsroom team for a day by shooting video of your event for them. Our clients have two minutes of video edited and ready to go when the producer’s phone call comes in. When our clients are booked as guests on the news, we send that video to the news producers to improve the quality of our interviews.
Many times a news agency that could not make it out to your news event will use cell phone video on the news if you shoot it well and email it to them. You should plan to shoot video at your event, have someone email it to the newsrooms and then call to make sure they know it’s there.
The last line of defense for your story pitch is to become a de facto web producer. This is your last ditch effort to win coverage. The news agency did not send a camera crew to your event, but you took great pictures or captured fantastic video footage. Email the images you’ve taken to the news agencies with your original news release, call them and ask them to forward the email to their web producer to post a story online. When this works, you have a story online, and you can send out that story link on all of your social media platforms to repeat your message again.
Use These Strategies to Grow Your Practice
These five strategies you need to know about public relations and your practice will help you win coverage and position your physicians as authorities on health issues in your region.
Having effective public relations strategies in place can quickly establish your group’s expertise and attract more patients to your practice, instead of giving all the glory to the health Google search.