The Media Advisory is a Critical Tool

Healthcare Providers in Pursuit of TV Coverage Need to Nail Them

What we refer to as a Media Advisory at SPRYTE Communications is also sometimes called a Media Alert or a Calendar Alert. Whatever you call it, the Media Advisory is a critical media relations tool for encouraging television news coverage of a single event or function.

For many healthcare communicators, in large and small media markets alike, winning television coverage can be elusive.

You have to think like a producer and succinctly present the opportunity for the cameras to shoot very strong visuals, the kind you see every night on TV news. The following factors are also important and can make or break a TV opportunity:

  • Day of the Week: SPRYTE likes a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Thursday.
  • Time of Day: We like mid late morning.
  • Proximity to News Station: If it’s more than a 30-minute drive, that adds challenge.

Here are some of the shortcomings of Media Advisories I’ve seen written at SPRYTE over the years:

  •  Visuals aren’t mentioned.
  •  Headlines lack creativity.
  •  Dispassionate.
  •  A specific time for the main “moment” isn’t given.
  •  Longer than one page.
  •  Written like a News Release.
  •  Lacking parking and entrance instructions.

We do a lot of Media Advisory training actually, more than I would have expected for both seasoned and more junior pros with media relations responsibilities. The reasons these folks need training?

  • Don’t ever watch television news.
  • Don’t sell it.
  • Value print over broadcast coverage.

When You Hear the Anchor Use Your Words

When the TV Anchor uses your words to accompany the video their cameraperson shot at your event from the anchor desk, you know you wrote good ones.

That was the case in December when SPRYTE reached out to televisions news assignment desks in pursuit of their coverage of an intimate and humble graduation ceremony for a large faith-based social service agency it represents in Southeast Pennsylvania.

Two adults completing Episcopal Community ServicesRISE Initiative were celebrated at a non-traditional recognition ceremony.
SPRYTE’s Media Advisory  enticed Philadelphia’s number one rated local television news station, 6 ABC, to send a cameraman to cover the program.

The resulting television news segment included favorite local anchorwoman 6 ABC’s Monica Malpass including words from SPRYTE’s Media Advisory headline.

Part of our earned media strategy for Episcopal Community Services includes attempting to win coverage of key milestones in their program year including RISE Initiative completion recognition programs for the following reasons:

Reasons to Pursue TV News Coverage

  • Shows (rather than tells) their great organization in action.
  •  Simplifies a multi-faceted mission by focusing on one great, visual moment.
  • Covers a wide geography.
  • Affirms donors’ good decision to support you.
  • Boosts morale of program participants and staff alike.
  • Builds the organization’s brand in the community in a visible way.

Remember sometimes the cameras don’t show up to even the most inspiring, visually-charged and meaningful events. We all know that can happen. But if we think there is potential for a great TV story that will be enjoyed by viewers throughout our media market, we will try at all costs to get the coverage again next time too.

Leverage Patient Successes in the News

Sourcing the Perfect Spokesperson for Earned Media Takes Time

When a healthcare provider launches a new service line or therapy, it can benefit from framing its new, novel offering in authentic human terms. Think about winning news coverage by leveraging the face of a willing patient who has benefitted from your care. In many cases, you can turn a dry pitch or introduction in to a must-do TV segment, or elevate a three-inch business brief in to a front-page newspaper feature story.

But be advised: it will take patience from all involved especially when your CEO, lead surgeon, or department head is feeling pressure to let prospective patients know about that new service or surgical technique so it can start returning the time and financial investment required to bring it on line.

A Happy Patient Illustrates Breast “Air Expansion”

Last October, Dr. William Scarlett, a breast reconstruction surgeon with our client Holy Redeemer Health System, began pioneering a new, noninvasive way of expanding the breast cavity for post-mastectomy implants.

The technology, involving bursts of CO2 delivered via remote control at home through clothes, instead of weekly saline injections in the doctor’s office, was both game-changing and visually friendly, as the manufacturer had provided samples to help explain the procedure to prospective patients., Dr. Scarlett was currently the only physician in the region using the system, called AirXpander®, according to the manufactuer AreoFlow.

The urge to talk about AirXpander® was also fueled by the the fact that it was unknown how long Dr. Scarlett would have exclusivity with AirXpander® in the Philadelphia region.

We knew the first thing a consumer reporter would ask is “Can I talk to a patient?” But initially patients were few and far between. Additionally, as the air expansion process takes an average of seven weeks to complete before permanent implants are placed, there wouldn’t be any immediate success stories.

So we waited. By early 2018 Dr. Scarlett had several successful procedures under his belt, and more importantly, he was still the only surgeon in the Philadelphia area using it, according to AeroFlow. Meanwhile, Dr. Scarlett had the perfect patient case study to showcase.

Miriam, a 69-year-old former Philadelphia resident now living in Florida, had resisted implants until learning of Holy Redeemer’s offering through a friend. She had beaten breast cancer and had just completed reconstruction surgery. She was making occasional trips back for follow-up appointments and to visit friends and her three grown daughters. Miriam wanted other women to know about air expansion, which she felt had significantly eased her reconstruction process. Miriam was truly an excellent patient spokesperson.

The local ABC station, to whom we’d offered the story exclusively, loved Miriam and promptly scheduled interviews to coincide with her next follow up appointment with Dr. Scarlett. In June, eight months after we first had a demo of AirXpander®, 6ABC ran a three-minute feature story. It was the first in an ongoing earned media campaign.

Tell a Great Story, Even if You Have to Wait to Tell It

While not every patient case study will be as perfect as Miriam’s, it’s worth biding your time until you can find one or more patients who have been treated successfully. It’s always more effective to tell stories about people, rather than machines, and if you can get patients to tell their own stories, that is even better.

Waiting doesn’t have to be passive; use the time to gather more information, hone your pitch or entice reporters with information and the prospect of connecting them to a “great patient whose life has changed.” Why not consider offering an exclusive to a top rated media outlet in exchange for their forbearance.

You might not always be first out of the gate like Dr. Scarlett and Holy Redeemer Health System, but if you can present an exceptional patient case study, you’re more likely to earn the media’s coverage of your story.

SPRYTE Insights previously published this Blog on July 31, 2018. We are re-posting it in recognition of October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.