Getting the most from your life science and healthcare PR
29th September 2021 - Last modified 30th September 2021 - 0 comments
Eight (ten would be too predictable!) quick tips for effective news releases
David Robinson, MD, Alto Marketing
I’ve been in the life science communications business for almost 25 years and it’s still the best way to get news out to a wide audience cost-effectively.
People really do notice PR. Still.
And of course, the wider the coverage the better the chances of people noticing your news. So, what are the factors that enhance good scientific PR coverage?
Having a regular newsflow really helps. The more news a company puts out, the more likelihood of greater overall coverage. It’s a numbers game. That said, you do need to consider the investment of time/cost in creating and distributing a series of well-written media releases, against the coverage that each individual release might get. However, the more an editor or journalist hears about your company, the more likely they are to recognise your news as worthy of publication (assuming it has some interesting angle).
It’s brand recognition.
To help with this brand recognition, we work with our clients to ensure a regular newsflow, rather than sending many releases over a short period followed by a long gap until the next release.
Remember to also make life as easy as possible for a busy editor. Make sure news is clear and well-written, and always remember the “so what?” aspect to actually give your release a purpose and news angle. To do this, it always helps to think of the what, why, when, who (and even where) questions that relate to the release.
As an external partner, we can also objectively consider each possible news story and we help our clients to spot something that might well be more newsworthy than they think, and then create a good news “hook”.
Your life science and healthcare PR newsflow is also good for keeping your website up-to-date and should be part of your overall scientific content strategy for SEO (more on this in subsequent blogs).
People love to read about numbers: the value of a deal; the increase in your sales or profits; how many units you’ve sold. It’s not always possible or desirable to talk about these, but where you can, include them, as news releases with interesting numbers get more coverage. And often journalists are interested in finding out more and will get in contact, which means a longer piece of coverage. New product launches are also generally well covered.
Statistics show that the time (and day) of sending out a release matters.1 In summary, across consumer and business-to-business, and many industries:
- Best time: between 10am and 2pm (you’ve then got to factor in time zones for a global release); avoid the hour and half-hour.
- Best day: Thursday
In fact, you can find statistics to support sending out releases at different times and days, and for different reasons (such as financial news). So, within reason, the timing is not going to make the biggest difference, and of course there may be good reasons why a release has got to go out on a certain day and time.
Following up with the media will increase coverage, but needs to be done with care. Your key editors/journalists will not thank you for following up on every release (that new handle on your new product is not going to be as interesting to them as it might be to you!). You also need to consider how much time (and cost if using an outside partner) it takes to follow up releases, and what the net gain might be.
Alternatively, if you have a particularly significant piece of news and good relations with key editors, there is still a case for contacting them in advance of distribution to alert them and share the release under embargo. This is also another great way of building relations and demonstrating that you’re a helpful source of information.
Building relations also means that you don’t spam editors with irrelevant releases. Believe it or not, some editors in the life science and healthcare B2B space receive up to 300 news releases a day! So they won’t thank you for sending them ones that are not relevant to their publication and their readership, and they may well be less likely in the future to pick up your releases that would be of interest.
So, it’s worth putting in the time and effort to ensure that your media distribution list is as up-to-date and relevant as possible. Before you send each release, do consider the subject matter and target readership, and filter your list accordingly.
Some things remain the same in life science and healthcare PR. One being that practically all media outlets are interested in good imagery to make their pages (print and online) more interesting. So do all you can to ensure your release has an interesting/creative image.
If the release is about a product, try to make it look as interesting as possible with different angles, lighting, backgrounds, action shots with people etc. No-one wants their website or magazine to look like a catalogue!
Many things have changed over the years. The shift in importance from print to online being the most significant, and this has seen some primarily print publications struggle and even disappear, while other online portals have come to the fore. The media landscape changes faster now than before.
Another major change is linked to the role of Google and other search and social media platforms in taking advertising revenue away from trade media publications.
These changes (and others) have had an effect on life science and healthcare PR coverage.
It is clear that the clients we work with which are supporting the media in some respect – through advertising or other promotions – get a far better service from the publisher, and importantly more coverage for their news, than those that don’t.
As always, it comes down to budget and getting the best ROI for that budget, however if raising awareness and increasing visibility are key objectives, then some support for your target media is definitely worth the investment.
That can also include paying for editorial inclusion charges (or what, in days of “yore”, used to be euphemistically termed colour separation charges).
At Alto, we will advise you on the best approach to your life science and healthcare PR newsflow, including how best and when to support the media and which editorial inclusion charges are worth considering. So please get in contact to find out about how we can help increase your visibility through effective PR in the healthcare and science sectors.