Timing, Topic and Targeting
For those who have experienced a loss, the holidays can be a time of intense sadness. While others are celebrating, bereaved people can feel overwhelmed by memories of loved ones, avoiding festive gatherings or isolating themselves from friends and family.
SPRYTE Communications’ client, a multi-regional hospice and homecare organization, saw the winter Holiday Season as an ideal time to implement a media relations campaign targeted to individuals dealing with what is too often dismissed as “the holiday blues.” The campaign goals were to educate the bereaved about what they were experiencing and to provide professional coping tips while establishing the hospice as a trusted provider.
The campaign exemplifies what SPRYTE believes are the fundamentals of effective media relations programs – working within select timeframes, clearly communicating the significance of your topic, and adapting the message for your specific audiences. To help clients (and staff) remember these fundamentals, we created alliterative shorthand – what we call the Three T’s of Media Relations: Timing, Topic and Targeting.
Timing: When you’re creating a media relations campaign around a specific holiday, there is a critical window of opportunity to launch it. Planning ahead is essential – even six months or more. We began developing our message and selecting our media targets in mid-August. This gave us time to work with our client’s spokespeople and fine-tune the pitch to the respective outlets.
Topic: How to frame the topic is a second key media relations element. The narrative must be attention-grabbing and relevant to the season, the media being pitched and ultimately the end-user. SPRYTE worked closely with the hospice’s bereavement counselors in five service regions covering Philadelphia’s northern suburbs and seven counties in southern New Jersey to create a 10-point list of ways to help people cope with bereavement during the holidays. This list was included in a Letter to the Editor that was customized and bylined by each bereavement counselor. It included their hospice affiliations and a toll-free number readers could call for more information about bereavement counseling and support groups.
Targeting: The third key element of a media relations campaign is targeting. We carefully researched primary media outlets, as well as relevant online influencers in each of the local markets. In cases where service regions abutted, extreme care was taken to ensure that each bereavement counselor’s message was distributed only within his or her respective region.
Our media relations efforts generated more than 525,000 impressions during the limited window from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. The results included published Letters to the Editor, as well as articles resulting from interviews arranged with local editors and reporters. The published pieces included placements in eight key local newspapers and an independent story by a local reporter that was posted on three neighboring Patch.com sites in the Ocean County, NJ, area and was also published online by the national trade publication Hospice Times.
The media relations campaign achieved its desired business goals of educating the general public about holiday bereavement during the holidays, establishing local hospice counselors as authoritative sources on the subject, and showcasing the hospice as a trusted provider and a caring and concerned member of its many local communities.