Having owned a home infusion pharmacy, I managed an advertising budget and explored the advantages over social media, but one thing that many of us business owners forget is the value of earned media.
Every town or city has various media outlets that you should be engaging. Media positioning should happen year round and not just at a grand opening celebration. How do pharmacy owners take the necessary steps to get their pharmacy in print, online or on TV? It’s simple, find your story and tell it.
Here are 7 tips for gaining and leveraging earned media placements for your business.
1. Do your research.
Find out which outlets in your area are the most impactful. Look at print newspapers and magazines, explore online outlets and learn which broadcast media sources cover your area.
So how do you research these outlets? You can do a lot of investigating on your own looking for demographics and audience numbers from traditional media sources. A quick call to their advertising group should provide details like online unique monthly views (UMVs), broadcast viewers or print circulation. They will also likely have details on who their typical consumer is, which leads me to the next question: Is there a particular audience you want to reach? If so, identify the outlet that best reaches this group of people. Build a media list with contact information for each outlet you would like to be featured in and start to identify the producers or reporters you’ll need to work with to make it happen.
One of the easiest ways to start this research is just to ask your staff and customers what they read, listen to and watch locally. Build a list of these outlets and then dig in for the details.
2. Think outside traditional outlets.
If you’re hoping to skew younger, there’s a separate section of media your should be looking at, emerging media. This includes online outlets that live and function solely online as well as influencers or bloggers.
Does your town or city have a local blog that talks about what’s going on each weekend? If so, this out-of-the-box option may be a great way for you to find new millennial customers.
Influencers and bloggers in your area may already be stopping by your store. Get to know them and the content they create to see how you could work together in the future.
Both emerging media outlets and influencers should be able to provide analytics on their readership, so do your research with this group as well.
3. Build and maintain relationships.
There’s a reason they call it public or media relations, relationships are the core to success.
Once you have built out a media list or have identified some outlets you would like to be featured in, reach out to the editorial or production team and learn about their needs. Perhaps they feature local businesses once a week or they like to share a health tip every day, learn what you can do to have your business mentioned in their content.
This could mean inviting these contacts out for coffee or simply picking up the phone. Remember to be persistent. Often one meeting won’t cut it. Set a calendar reminder to check back in with these important media contacts on a quarterly basis so that they start thinking about your business when they need a comment on something health-related.
4. Know where you’re spending advertising money.
Advertising or marketing budgets spent on local publications can absolutely have impact on editorial content. If you have a large budget with a local paper, use that as your foot in the door to set up a coffee with their local business editor. Just call the outlet’s media representative who manages the ad buys and let them know you would like to be introduced to the editorial team.
Sometimes advertising can blur the lines for earned media. Pay-to-play opportunities or advertorials are another chance to get a long form story about your business or specialty featured by a specific media outlet.
5. Fine tune your story and go pitch.
When it comes to news stories, you have to put on your reporter hat and ask “is this newsworthy?” To be newsworthy your pitch needs to be timely first and foremost. Are you pitching some tips of flu shots at the end of flu season? That likely won’t work. But maybe you’re hoping to tell a story about how your compounding formulas can help women find balance just as Women's Health Month is kicking off. A story with a specific tie to something timely has a better chance of getting picked up.
Some other things to consider are human interest angles, novelty and consequence. Is there a personal story you pharmacy should be telling? Did an employee go above and beyond? This approach could be great for any type of media. Is the pitch you’re putting together about something new or exciting? Use this to your advantage. And finally, is there a consequence or impact to the story you’re sharing? Perhaps things are heating up and you are positioned to talk about the best sunscreen available, this impact to the reader is a great hook to get media interested.
When you put together your pitch, keep it short and concise. If you opt for a press release, a story format is becoming more and more preferable. Write something that the reporter could pluck from the page and drop into their publication.
6. Build a regular presence and enhance thought leadership.
As you build relationships, build your own personal brand. Find chances to tell the story of your pharmacy and the work you do throughout the year. Offer to be the go-to spokesperson on certain medical topics. Ask if you can write a health column on a monthly basis.
Once you know what the outlets you’re interested in are looking for, you can develop ideas for your business to show up differently.
7. Amplify mentions and enjoy benefits of third-party credibility.
Once your business is covered in traditional or emerging media, it’s on your shoulders to amplify. These earned media placements mean third party credibility and can enhance the standing of your pharmacy, don’t let them go unnoticed.
Place copies of articles around your pharmacy, tweet or repost online content and consider looping broadcast feedback on a feed in your store. Whatever you choose to do, just use the tools at your disposal to share your media impressions with your current and potential customers in as many ways as possible.
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