Most health care organization these days can tell you just how difficult it is to get newsrooms to focus on any other health story besides the latest developments of the COVID-19/coronavirus.

Obviously, coronavirus is not impacting only health care organizations. As our President Matt Kucharski wrote last week, there are a few steps any organization can take now to be prepared for the coming weeks and months.

But, health care organizations face a unique challenge when it comes to communication and PR. That’s because the PR teams at hospitals, device manufacturers and pharmaceutical developers are responsible for supporting their organization’s business goals through compelling story telling – many times through earned media. And while the challenge of breaking through a crowded media landscape with an eye-catching hook or emerging research is not new, there is an added hurdle when coverage of your own industry is dominated by a single story.

So, what to do? Consider these strategies:

  • Hitch your cart to the horse.

What can your organization or your leadership add to the conversation? Perhaps your organization provides a unique product or service and allocating those resources to help with the outbreak is a great way to stay on top of the story. According to Sean Whooley’s article on How MedTech Companies are Responding to the Deadly Coronavirus Outbreak, medical device companies like Boston Scientific and 3M have felt the impact of the coronavirus through high demands in their respiratory protection products, like surgical mask and respirators. Or consider providing insight from your C-suite like Gene Rebeck’s article from Twin Cities Business on Coronavirus Preparedness that highlights how local corporations are responding to the outbreak.  

  • Get creative about your story – and your pitch strategy.

A product launch or big organizational announcement can still offer news value. How you tell that story, however, may require some out-of-the-box thinking. What typically may have just been a simple pitch or press release may now require a major news event or a third party endorsement that is so eye-catching media can’t ignore it. Also consider your pitch approach – a broad blast to many outlets may have been the best strategy a few weeks ago, but today it might be more effective as an exclusive pitch strategy among your top targets.

  • Sit tight.

Take an objective look at your story. If it is evergreen or doesn’t have a strong hook, consider waiting until the dust settles or until there is a break in the action. Shouting into the wind is not a winning strategy. This avenue could require strategy discussions with your internal team and leadership to gain buy-in. Ultimately, it’s best to save your breath – and if you are working with an agency, your resources – for better timing.

With the World Health Organization labeling coronavirus a global health emergency, it’s no surprise that brands are getting pushed aside in news coverage. While it’s hard to sit on the side lines as news coverage becomes clogged with the virus, especially if your organization was about to announce some exciting news, it’s okay to wait it out. However, if your company can benefit from this uptick in media coverage by offering specific platforms in trade media stories like those in telemedicine, take advantage and get creative.

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