Happy 36th (Wait, What?) Anniversary!

An Unexpected Pitch Can Pay Off

Conventional wisdom in public relations goes you should only bother promoting a company anniversary if the year ends in zero or five; nothing in between matters to anybody but employees (and even when it ends in zero or five it’s not necessarily newsworthy to outsiders).

So how did SPRYTE score a front-page-teased feature story in a local daily newspaper about their home care client’s 36th anniversary? Easy, we pitched it!

Earn Media by Doing the Unexpected

It’s a case study of how going against the grain can sometimes help with your reputation marketing campaign, and even generate earned media results. In this case, we benefited from the fact no one was expecting a story about an off-year celebration.

Griswold Home Care had neither a special logo nor a year-long marketing campaign to mark its 36th year, especially after celebrating its 35th in 2017. What it did have, however, was a big party for staff, caregivers and partners. Local politicians turned out too and delivered remarks. So why was this party special?

After more than three and a half decades, Griswold Home Care still embraces the vision and values of its founder and matriarch, Jean Griswold. The business wasn’t begun as a moneymaking enterprise; it was sparked by one woman who wanted to ensure no senior was left vulnerable in their home as they aged, even if they lived alone. This mission, company leadership believe, is worth celebrating annually.

That’s the story we strived to tell to the local media. This wasn’t so much an anniversary but an annual thank you to the caregivers and employees who fulfill Jean Griswold’s ideal every day. It was about boosting morale, not celebrating a number, and there’d be more such celebrations in the future, each year on April 26th, zeroes and fives be damned.

This unapologetic approach drew attention in a raised eyebrow kind of way, leading one reporter to seek an interview with Griswold’s CEO. The journalist was already familiar with the locally based home care franchise company, having written about it the prior year…on the occasion of its 35th anniversary.

Don’t Overlook Great Photos, People Stories

To add more human interest to the pitch, we highlighted one particular caregiver who’d been with the company since its first year, and who was saluted during the event.

It also didn’t hurt that we offered good photos of company leadership and caregivers with the county commissioner and Pennsylvania state legislators. As is often the case, good quality visuals can help sell the story.

The resulting article, titled “Griswold Home Care plans ‘morale booster’” topped the newspaper’s business section five days after the anniversary. The lead of the story noted that Griswold simply didn’t want to wait four more years for another occasion to honor its compassionate employees. The story also included a paragraph about the longtime caregiver, Allegra Chaney.

Clear Messages Help in Reputation Marketing

Anniversary stories in general are valuable as they convey that the organization is enduring. This article in particular added the messages that Griswold has long-term, caring employees and is a good place to work – traits that are appealing to prospective patients, clients and staff, and which healthcare organizations should always try to include in their reputation marketing campaigns.

This event and the result illustrate that when it comes to media relations, the number of years in business is less significant than the people you employ, and how your organization stands out from others. Don’t overlook opportunities to mine what you’re doing that’s different or contrarian for press attention.

Find out more about SPRYTE’s Public Affairs and Reputation Management services.

Managing Reputation with Bylines

Tap into Doctors’ Expertise to Build Thought Leadership Creds

When SPRYTE learned that a pediatrician at Holy Redeemer Hospital was seeing a spate of concussions relating to youth sports, we sprang into action to warn parents on signs they need to look for. The resulting article under Dr. Avi Gurwitz’s byline ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer “Expert Advice” column in the Sunday Health section, which is seen by 194,000 readers (not counting online). The twist? Concussions aren’t limited to football, but can be sustained in many spring sports too.

The first-person, “bylined” article by a healthcare professional can be a boon to your organization’s reputation. Whether it appears in a local newspaper or regional lifestyle magazine, getting your physicians’ skills and knowledge out to current and prospective patients should be a goal of any healthcare communicator, and creating thought-leadership articles is a great way to do it. The “third-party endorsement” you gain upon publication is invaluable, as it tells readers that your doctor truly is an expert, and what he or she has to say merits editorial space.

Where are Your Patients Coming From?

Start by determining where your organization’s or practice’s patients come from, and targeting the publications that reach them. Research them, and if you’re already reading them pay attention for opportunities that may be a good fit for your physicians. Daily and weekly newspapers, for example, might run regular health columns called “Expert Advice,” “The Doctor is In,” or “Things To Know,” sometimes in the Sunday health section or a recurring healthcare supplement. Notice whether they use doctor-contributed content, and in what format.

Finding topics is the easy part. Just about every physician has a few hot-button subjects they’re passionate about, or vital information they want patients to know, and are usually happy to share them if you ask. Some might be “evergreen,” but as a communications pro, you might also think seasonally, and offer ideas well ahead of time that fit in with subjects editors and readers will be thinking about. Sparing your back when doing spring gardening or landscaping can be an attractive topic in the first quarter, while minimizing risk of heart attack when shoveling snow is a natural for the winter months.

Once you’ve settled on an idea, you’ll need to flesh it out into an article query. Most editors won’t commit to running your doctor’s article until they actually see it, so you might be writing on-spec, but if you learn the publication’s editorial guidelines and adhere to them, particularly word count, you’ll increase your chances of publication.

Writing for Reputation

Schedule an interview with the doctor, so you can gather and assimilate their knowledge on the subject, determine the key points to make, and even get a sense of their “voice.” Additional background research might be required to write a fully formed article.

Once you’ve written the draft, you’ll have to send it back to the doctor for their review, along with any other internal eyes that might need to see it. But because the article is appearing under their name, the physician should have final say on the content. Be sure to add a one- or two-sentence biography of the author at the end, and offer a high-resolution head shot to the editor in case they run them.

Bylined articles can be a powerful form of reputation marketing, and as such an effective way to influence patients and prospective patients. And, like the Dr. Gurwitz column, they can deliver valuable information on any number of health topics, letting consumers know you’re a community-minded organization.