Prepping Healthcare Vendor Customers for Public Relations

Sep 21, 2016

It happens to healthcare vendors all the time…

It’s a great day at the office. Your sales team inks a deal with a major client. Your development team tells you that a recent implementation has been an earth-shattering success. An industry-renowned customer casually mentions to your CEO that your company’s platform should be an industry standard.

You fire off an email to your PR agency and the machine is set in motion. Press releases are drafted. Media alerts are sent. A steady cadence of pitches for bylines, case studies, and interviews land in the inboxes of scores of reporters and editors. Momentum begins to build.

You turn to your marketing team to begin coordinating strategy with your PR team, when suddenly a single e-mail or phone call brings the entire endeavor to a screeching halt.

Your customer the shining example of your company’s efficacy in a fiercely competitive marketplace can’t or won’t do a press release. Previously unknown policies against speaking to the media begin to pop up. Oh, and about that opportunity to co-present at a major healthcare conference yeah, turns out they will have to pass on that, too. So sorry, but perhaps they can do something as long as it is stripped of any quotes, endorsements, or mentions of the client.

A healthcare vendor’s clients are a critical and bountiful resource for your PR and marketing program. They offer third-party validation for the efficacy of your solution within the industry. They act as vendor-neutral sources for editors and reporters in the trade and business press. They provide real-world solidity to the larger trends and narratives impacting healthcare in the United States.

Though your clients may understand the value they could bring to your PR strategy, that doesn’t mean they will go along with it. Communication with a healthcare vendor’s clients about PR initiatives not only clears up misunderstandings, but also helps establish with your client boundaries and a level of comfort about deliverables being created with their name and reputation affixed to it.

Here are some tips to consider:

Reach out to their PR department. A big part of PR is relationship building. A quick huddle with your client’s PR or corporate communications department and agency is great for setting boundaries about what they will or won’t participate in.

Consider contractual language. Speak with your sales and legal teams. Do you contracts include any language about PR participation? Most client would understandably balk at being required to participate in a full-fledged PR campaign, but many contracts have a line or two mandating that a press release be distributed within 60 to 90 days of signing the contract.

Introduce your agency. You know and trust your PR agency but that doesn’t mean your client does. A quick meeting between your agency and your client clears the air and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Share your plan. Any client who is participating in your PR efforts should have a voice in the actual strategy and tactics. This thinking goes beyond press release approval. It includes how and when they will be positioned and prepared for media interviews, speaking engagements, or other opportunities.

Establishing a regular cadence and open line of communication with a healthcare vendor’s client’s marketing and PR team ensures that you both make the most of your public relations efforts.

Matt Schlossberg

Matt is an award-winning journalist and editor with nearly 20 years experience in news and feature writing/editing; content strategy; marketing and brand journalism; book acquisitions and publishing; copywriting; digital content development; strategic communication planning; social media engagement strategies; multimedia presentation development; and editing on multiple platforms, including print, online, and digital publishing. He previously managed communications for HIMSS, and worked as a reporter.