The Recipe for Successful Media Coverage

Use These Three Key Ingredients to Make Your Story Newsworthy

While social media has become an increasingly popular way for people to get their news, traditional media is still considered the most trustworthy avenue for news coverage in the U.S. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual trust and credibility survey conducted by Edelman Intelligence, 65 percent of Americans trust traditional media as a go-to source for information, while only 34 percent have that trust in social media – highlighting earned media’s staying power.

Listing the Ingredients

Whether it’s a story in a local, trade or national publication, positive news coverage can help an organization enhance its reputation and build an authentic connection with its target audiences – something we at SPRYTE Communications have an endless appetite for.

Similar to cooking, there isn’t one set method for earned media that guarantees coverage. However, we’ve found that most successful campaigns include a “recipe” for newsworthy stories that uses three key ingredients: a human-interest angle, connection to the community and compelling visuals.

Following the Recipe

One recent article we placed in a local newspaper, Lumina News , on behalf of client Griswold Home Care is an excellent example of how this “recipe” can help generate successful media coverage.

In the beginning of May, the home care franchise’s Wilmington, NC office awarded a grant to local nonprofit Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM) through the Jean Griswold Foundation’s new “Griswold Gives” program. We included each ingredient in our feature news release about the grant to grab the reporter’s attention:

  • A human-interest angle – In the release, we detailed how WARM has helped low-income homeowners– many of whom are elderly and disabled – complete urgent home repairs and safety upgrades they couldn’t afford on their own. Stories about a person or organization working to solve issues that affect people’s everyday lives evoke an emotional response and keep people invested in reading more coverage – the ultimate goal for most publications.
  • A connection to the local community – In addition to how WARM helps residents in-need, we also discussed how the Foundation’s grant will help WARM provide its home repair services to the many families whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Florence. By detailing how Griswold helped the nonprofit make an impact in the community, we made Griswold’s story more relevant for local readers and more enticing for local newspapers to cover.
  • Compelling visuals – Along with the release, we sent a photo of some key members of both organizations at the grant presentation event. Including photos or video of people in any written content helps increase the level of reader engagement and build a sense of familiarity among the organizations’ target audiences.

 Both earned media and cooking are more of an art than a science – there are many different strategies and tactics you can use to get a successful end result. However, this tried and true recipe for positive news coverage is an effective tool that can make almost any story a newsworthy one.

Healthcare Letters to the Editor

A Consumer Earned Media Tactic to Consider

The Letter to the Editor is a consumer earned media tactic SPRYTE often recommends to our healthcare communications clients to great success.  We like them because they’re reader-contributed and the topics can be current or “evergreen.”  Newspapers typically publish several Letters to the Editor every day so there’s ample opportunity for placement.

Letters to the Editor are effective for healthcare providers for the following reasons:

Letters to the Editor Can:

  • Educate the public (or correct the record) about a specific health concern or issue.
  • Create and enhance brand recognition within a healthcare provider’s targeted geographic area.
  • Establish the healthcare provider as an authority on a specific health topic or issue.
  • Reinforce the healthcare provider’s reputation as a caring and concerned member of its local community.

Placing a Letter to the Editor hinges on several factors. While there’s always a drive to display your healthcare organization’s name prominently and positively, editors will reject letters that are too self-promotional.

Healthcare providers must be sure about what the newspapers’ readers will gain by reading the letter.

Two Questions the Letter to the Editor Writer Should Answer:

  1. How does my message contribute to the public good?
  2. What useful or compelling healthcare expertise can we share?

As with all earned media tactics, establish your goals first.  Your goals will shape the content of your Letter.  Here are some guidelines:

  • If your goal is to inform readers, make sure to include attributable facts and/or statistics.
  • If you want to thank or bring attention to a group, highlight the problem the group or individuals have helped to solve, and what they’ve accomplished.

Best Practices for Your Letter to the Editor Campaign

Here are some more tips from SPRYTE’s playbook for leveraging letter to the editor campaigns:

Avoid high-traffic times of year. Saluting mothers on Mothers Day or veterans on Veterans Day or Memorial Day will put your Letter in strong competition for space.  Instead, select less prominent recognition days, like an obscure anniversary, a lesser-known holiday or a milestone only your healthcare organization can claim.

Move fast. If you want to respond to an article the newspaper ran, or give your opinion on a newsworthy healthcare topic, waiting even a few days can make your Letter to the Editor stale. Don’t forget to reference the specific article in your Letter response.

Follow the rules. Most newspapers have specific guidelines for Letters to the Editor, read them and follow them. Words might be limited to 200 or even 150, so make every word count. Some publications require you to e-mail your Letter to a specific department or editor, and others have online submission forms. Submit in the prescribed format to give your Letter to the Editor the best chance of being placed.

Be available to Verify. Most newspapers have a Letter verification process to ensure validity.  Included might be a phone call or an e-mail to or from the Letter writer confirming contact information, city of residence and organization. Make sure the Letter to the Editor author is aware that he/she might be contacted or, might proactively have to call a number to verify the Letter.

Manage expectations. Even if you get a canned e-mail that says your Letter to the Editor is being considered, it still many not be placed for a variety of reasons including lack of space, competing, more timely topics, or a more insightful (or entertaining) Letter on the same subject. If your letter is more of an “evergreen” topic, it could run days or even weeks later, so keep monitoring for its placement.

Union-Snyder Agency on Aging Provided 31,552 Meals to Seniors

SPRYTE recently placed a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Item of Selinsgrove, Pa. on behalf of one of client Griswold Home Care’s Franchise Directors in North Central Pa.

The topic?  Recognition of a local charity that provides food to low income seniors.  The community agency was recently the recipient of Griswold Home Care’s Jean Griswold Foundation’s grantmaking program.

The Letter, signed by Franchise Director Andrew Hefflinger allowed Hefflinger to recognize an outstanding local partner while shining a spotlight on his leading local home care business as mutually interested in improving the lives and independence of the local senior citizenry.

Letters to the editor are a powerful tool in a healthcare communicator’s arsenal.  If used deliberately, they can build your reputation, influence public opinion and spur changes in behavior or opinion.

At SPRYTE Healthcare Communications Means Consumer PR

Hyper Local is So Credible and Rewarding

When you say healthcare communications agency in Philadelphia or New Jersey, the assumption is that you’re focused on pharmaceutical or life sciences companies.  We’ve met so many successful local niche consultants serving those industries at every stage of their business cycles.  And the increasingly visible publicly-traded global holding companies have also located their robust healthcare agency brands in Philadelphia in recent years to be closer to their clients.

Well, SPRYTE Communications specializes exclusively in healthcare too but we support healthcare providers.  Not in a business-to-business capacity.  Our strength is in consumer public relations.

Here’s an example of a campaign we conducted on behalf of Holy Redeemer Health System, a client since 2006, last week.

Holy Redeemer Opens 5th Outpatient Medical Center in Bucks County

When Holy Redeemer opened its fifth Bucks County outpatient medical center, consumer public relations was the only external communications function deployed.

The brand new 18,000 square foot ambulatory care center provides primary care, obstetrical and gynecological care, orthopedic care and rehabilitation services, professional counseling, physical therapy and radiology services.

The opening of Redeemer HealthCare at Richboro is of interest to individuals and businesses living in its vicinity for a variety of consumer and economic impact reasons.  That’s why there was wide pick up of our news release by local daily and weekly newspapers.

But the ambulatory care center’s opening was also of interest regionally where the highly competitive healthcare provider industry is widely covered.  John George, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s healthcare writer, conducted interviews with Holy Redeemer’s senior leaders and wrote the most comprehensive article about the System’s continued expansion in to new geographies in Bucks County.

Finally, Holy Redeemer’s expansion was also of interest to the trade media, with Becker’s covering it with three highly flattering “Insights.”

Many healthcare providers think that paid advertising is the only way to build their visibility in a local marketplace.  Of course, it certainly won’t hurt.  But think of the brand battles out there on billboards, radio and TV.  In Philadelphia, it seems the biggest advertisers are our many outstanding healthcare providers.

But don’t overlook the power of public relations and the credibility delivered by news media covering your healthcare provider brand in action.  Do you agree that the consumer earned media coverage of Holy Redeemer’s Richboro expansion is solid proof of its newsworthiness?

There’s Still Time to Make Changes for 2019

Take Stock. Break Bad Habits & Do Better

In 8 Bad Habits to Avoid in Healthcare Marketing this week’s guest blogger, Rob Rosenberg of Springboard Brand and Creative Strategy, warns “Avoid defaulting to old habits that weaken your position, both personally and professionally.”

Do you agree that the poor practices Rob advocates you change are often present in today’s health system marcom operations?

They reminded me of my first position in provider healthcare. My title was Public Affairs Staff Associate and I worked in the market’s dominant three hospital health system. I was one of three in the department. We had all the health system service lines divided among us. Thinking back, I don’t think I was ever present at a business discussion. But I did perfect my newsletter skills. –Lisa Simon

Click here to read the Guest Blog


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