Healthcare PR – Is it better to work with a Specialist or a Generalist?

By Mark Macias

In the healthcare sector, is it better to work with an industry-related PR firm that specializes in healthcare, or will you get better results with a generalist PR firm that works with different types of industries?

You might think this is partial advice since Macias PR runs health tech and healthcare PR campaigns for clients in the B2B and B2C space, so let me first start with my healthcare experience in the media.

Healthcare PR – The View Inside the Media

As Executive Producer with WNBC in New York, I oversaw the healthcare, medical, features and consumer units. Publicists, reporters and producers all pitched me their healthcare related ideas. Likewise, I also approved all healthcare scripts and story ideas from reporters and producers. As a Senior Producer with CBS, I produced healthcare and medical stories – and pitched complicated healthcare stories in the morning news meeting.

When I used to read media pitches from publicists, I could always tell which publicists worked at a hospital and which worked at an agency. The publicists who worked inside the healthcare industry always used medical jargon. It was like they wanted to impress me with their medical expertise. Problem is – I didn’t get a medical or biology degree. I got a degree in journalism and political science, like many other journalists.

This is why – generally speaking – most generalist PR firms will have a better understanding in how to frame a medical story. They will also likely have an edge when it comes to explaining the complicated story to reporters and producers, regardless of the journalists’ background.

I’ve also seen it as the owner of a PR firm when I am speaking directly with reporters and producers about story ideas. Their time is valuable and they don’t want to waste valuable time trying to understand the healthcare payoff. They want me to explain the angle to them quickly, so they can decide whether it is a story their news organization will want to pursue.

Do I Hire a Generalist or Specialist with PR?

If you are debating between hiring a PR firm that specializes in healthcare PR or a generalized PR firm that works with different industries – take a look at what they have delivered for their other clients. If you see diverse stories in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today or CBS News, you might have a winner because it took a smart publicist to explain the complicated healthcare angle in an easy-to-understand way.

Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.

Healthcare PR as a Patient Lead Generator

By Mark Macias

Healthcare PR is one of the most effective ways to introduce your healthcare services to new clients, regardless of whether you are in the B2B or B2C space.

Earlier today, I met with a potential client in the B2B healthcare space that gets paid for their services via third-party insurance providers. Their marketing director explained her concerns about targeting consumers via the news media because she feared they didn’t have the money to pay for their services. She wanted to target insurance companies that pay the bills.

It sounds logical, but it’s also similar to the chicken or egg theory – which came first?

I think it’s more effective to target consumers first – and let them come to you. If your story gains traction, patients will call you or their insurance providers, finding out how they can qualify for your services.

But patients won’t know about your healthcare services unless they hear about it. You can try targeted ads, direct email marketing campaigns or even sponsor local healthcare fairs, but on a larger scale, nearly all consumers get their healthcare information from the news.

This is why nearly every local TV station and newspaper has a reporter devoted specifically to covering healthcare. News publishers know consumers turn to the local news for their healthcare updates.

During my time as Executive Producer with WNBC in New York, I oversaw three medical reporters and two medical producers, approving their scripts and story ideas. Those healthcare and medical segments frequently got higher ratings than most other hard news segments, which is why they were frequently the promoted story of the day.

How Healthcare PR Generates Leads in B2B

Let’s say you are a substance abuse treatment center that gets paid from insurance companies. Your internal data might show that consumers won’t pay out-of-pocket for your services, but that doesn’t mean a prominent story on your healthcare organization won’t drive consumers to seek out your services.

Macias PR works with a healthcare organization that gets paid primarily through government contracts. We secured a prominent profile story for them in the New York Post, which led to 800 calls in one day, according to their CEO. Those were all new patient leads who could potentially sign up for their services.

So if you’re looking for new ways to introduce your healthcare services to patients – including the B2B space – think first of the consumer. If you get them on board, the rest of the healthcare service providers will follow.

Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.