Public relations: Make it public

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Q. How do I alert the media to good things happening in my company?


A. For far too long, HME providers have worked quietly in the shadows, missing opportunities to promote what they do for patients, allowing them to live in a community setting. But reaching out to the media is not all that difficult, and journalists enjoy hearing directly from people on the front lines of care. The first determination is to figure out what media tool best serves the purpose.


A media advisory alerts an editor to an event or happening so that he or she will be able to cover it. It includes blocks of information that provide the basic elements, such as “who,” “what,” “where” and “when.” It also includes contact information  and may include a website or photo opportunity.


A news release alerts the media to a news development, such as the opening of a new location. The news release is written in paragraph format, including a lead paragraph that contains most of the important details. A good test of the lead paragraph is to read it as though no other information was available. Would it convey the key elements? A news release can also include supporting facts and quotes from people related to the story, such as the owner of the business. It also must include contact information.


A letter to the editor enables an organization to respond to a media story. For instance, if a particular story about the HME industry lacks balance, a letter to the editor can be sent to provide a factual response. Three good tips for a letter: Keep it under 150 words; use positive language (don’t tear people down, particularly not the reporter); and send it in as soon after the news story appears as possible.


So pick your tool and get your company and your industry into the public’s view.


David Ball is president of Ball Consulting Group, LLC. Reach him at 617-243-9950 or