We’re living in a time when the news cycle is busier and moving faster than ever before. This means it’s becoming harder and harder to secure interest with the typical vertical technology pitch or trend jack with a canned quote. It’s especially true when looking at vertical markets like healthcare, where rising above the sea of COVID-19 stories can sometimes feel impossible. To stand out, there are a number of assets you can utilize to grab the attention of busy reporters, some of which I’ve outlined below.
Customer Case Studies
The number of vendors within any given vertical market is growing exponentially, while the number of reporters covering said vertical continues to shrink. A great way to reach key media is to highlight a customer story that reflects the challenges faced in the industry as a whole and how your client’s technology helps solve them.
When identifying the right customer to utilize, size or brand recognition isn’t necessarily as important as the story itself. Reporters look for stories relevant to a wider audience by addressing a challenge that many companies within the industry face and find value in the story. They also look for feel-good stories that draw the attention of a wider consumer audience, like a recent story we secured for an AdTech client that helped with a fundraising event for children with cancer and other serious illnesses.
However, to truly stand out, there needs to be concrete ROI information to support the level of success they’re claiming to have achieved. This includes either percentages or hard numbers about revenue, customer retention and conversion rates, among others. Using the same article as an example, the fundraising increase was highlighted at the very beginning of the story: “The virtual, nation-wide Million Reasons Run exceeded funding expectations by 129% due to a nimble, digital-first and data-fuelled effort.”
Survey and Industry Report Data
If you’ve worked in PR long enough, you know that solid report or survey data can be a huge asset for media engagement. Not all data are created equal in the minds of reporters, though, and what’s compelling to one reporter will not be to another. That’s where publication and reporter research comes in. Some higher-tier publications have requirements on the number of respondents to make a legitimate report, while others care less about that and more about the titles, industries or company sizes of those who responded. This is especially true for vertical markets since the insights gained from the reports are not necessarily relevant in other markets.
Once the sample size and demographic preferences are sorted, the next — and somewhat obvious — factor is how compelling the findings are. Unfortunately, this is largely outside of our control as PR professionals. Sometimes clients seek help from us to craft questions and steer the direction prior to fielding responses, other times they will let you know a report is already underway and you’re left to work with what you’re given. In our experience, the most successful data points are those that can create an attention-grabbing headline, whether it’s a consumer anecdote or something money-related for a business audience. An example of the latter is a report IQVIA Institute released on global medicine spending, which received 11 pieces of tier-one coverage such as this piece in Reuters.
Tailored Expert Commentary
Oftentimes, there is nothing better than utilizing existing content — it saves both your client’s time and yours, but that approach is best left for contributed articles in vertical publications, reporter Q&As, speaking submissions and the like. Especially true for trend-jacking opportunities, reporters have a keen sense of what is genuine insight and what has been pre-drafted and overshared. This means you must take the extra time to craft very pointed questions for your client to respond to get unique insight based on their industry and life experience.
Sometimes, securing the win also means using a spokesperson that’s lower on the company’s food chain (i.e. not the C-suite) but has the most applicable experience, such as the researchers, developers, and other subject matter experts. At the end of the day, a reporter cares more about the quality of the insight and less about the rank of the person providing it.
As you may see, a common thread in utilizing the above assets is the ability to steer away from the vendor-only approach. That’s not to say your client won’t get their credit when the final piece appears, but reporters are moving further away from product-specific stories and more towards industry-relevant stories. Regardless of how you get there, being able to produce a diverse set of assets for reporters will yield the results they’re looking for.