Health tech startups are more technologically advanced than ever. Their PR should be, too


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The healthcare industry is constantly growing and evolving. Technology continues to advance at an almost alarming rate, creating space for new companies and new health tools to emerge. And every year there are more and more new businesses to fill that space: in 2021, health tech startups collectively raised an impressive $29.1 billion.

New healthcare startups are arriving every day, and one of the most important steps in scaling your startup is getting the word out about your company. While health tech startups naturally focus their sales pitches on what makes their products and services unique, it’s also important that they establish themselves as thought leaders and differentiate themselves in the eyes of the public.

Many marketing tools can help companies accomplish this, but one of the most effective and dynamic is PR. Whether you hire an agency or bring your efforts in-house, PR can help you position your company as not just a technology leader but also establish you as a trusted voice on the future of the field. That is, when your PR is done right.

Data-driven pitching

One of the best ways to raise your company’s profile is by getting influential journalists to write about you and your company. But first you need to know which publications and which journalists are going to be interested in your story.

In PR, the most impactful stories are those that reach the right viewers at the right time. To do that, you have to find the right journalists at the right publications. You’re no doubt familiar with the power of data. Data makes the world go round, and that’s as true in PR as it is in health care.

You can pitch journalists by gut instinct, but you’ll be far more successful in taking a data-driven approach. For example, if your health tech startup revolves around medical transcription services for health-care providers, you might want to aggregate as much data as you can around publications that write about medical records. Who’s writing these stories? What publications do these people write for? What have these writers covered in the past about this topic, and how can you add to that conversation with your industry perspective?

With this data, you can easily write personalized emails, targeting the right journalists. This will maximize your odds of getting their attention.

Earned media in health care

While getting a mention in The New York Times or Forbes is certainly a feather in anyone’s cap, there are real benefits to targeting industry-focused publications over top-tier media outlets. For one, you’ll have a much better understanding of the typical reader of a publication aimed at your industry. The New York Times reaches such a wide and varied readership that your coverage is bound to find some interested readers, but it’s also going to reach many more uninterested readers.

Niche healthcare industry publications have a clearly defined audience, which can bring you a greater ROI for your PR efforts. Because healthcare industry publications are so much more focused, it’s possible to craft a more personalized pitch to get attention from journalists, or even to publish your own article with your byline at the top.

Finally, industry publications are often more trusted in the spheres that you want to reach. A huge advantage of earned media, as opposed to paid advertising, is that an endorsement from an impartial, reputable source is more effective at boosting customer trust, which is vital for health tech startups. It’s also a lot cheaper than advertisements.

Put your data to good use

Now that you have all this information about pubs and journalists, you can craft your pitch. Remember, journalists want stories. They don’t want ads. Even if you believe the reader of the publication you’re targeting is a perfect fit for your health tech product, the journalist writing the story doesn’t care.

Journalists are focused on providing useful information to their readers, and they’re not particularly interested in your marketing ROI. So you need to give them something that they can use. And let me be painfully clear: They don’t want to write about your products and services. Now, let me repeat that: They don’t want to write about your products and services. If you want coverage, you need to give journalists what they need, not what you want.

Writers and editors can spot templates or blanket pitches very easily. They can tell when you’re copy-pasting something you’ve sent to the 49 other journalists you found on Muckrack. Instead, take the time to customize the pitch to reference previous articles they’ve written and explain why you can offer a new angle or idea. Show them you’ve done your research, that you know the kind of story that the publication typically runs, and that you have something genuine to add to the conversation.

So, if you’re a health tech company startup that sells software to hospitals to check patients in, you might notice writer Katie Adams wrote a story for MedCity News about scheduling optimization software. But don’t send her a pitch for an article idea about the exact same thing. Reference that story in your pitch to prove you’re paying attention, but offer her a fresh idea, such as the financial costs of outdated CMS software in hospitals.

Publications and journalists like topical, relevant, and story-driven ideas. Don’t think of them as gatekeepers. Think of them—and treat them—as partners instead.

PR has evolved as much as health care

In the old days, PR used to be about who you knew: the personal connections that your PR agency had in the media industry, and the exclusive access that they could provide to you as their client.

Today, PR is a much more democratized field in which the best story, pitched to the right person, stands the greatest chance of making waves in your field. Using data to find journalists and publications to pitch to, you can make sure your health tech startup gets the coverage it deserves.

Photo: Digital Vision, Getty Images,


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