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Yes, Healthcare PR and Marketing People, I Will Be Your Friend

July 9, 2013
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If you're a healthcare PR or marketing professional pitching to Healthcare Informatics, please read on


I’m going to begin this blog by admitting upfront that my motivation in writing it is absolutely and entirely self-serving. Yes, that’s right, Gentle Readers, I’m writing this blog to help myself—well, and my entire team here, too, at Healthcare Informatics. Nonetheless, the purpose is indeed self-serving. Please read on and allow me to explain.

Every week, I and the other members of the editorial team at HCI receive dozens (occasionally, even hundreds!) of inquiries via e-mail and phone (and very occasionally, still via snail-mail, believe it or not). These inquiries from public relations and marketing people are always to pitch interviews with or other interactions with, their clients or colleagues, who are most often healthcare IT software vendor executives (though occasionally the pitches are on behalf of actual provider executives or distinguished consultants).

Like our colleagues at other healthcare publications, we barely have the time to respond to the really worthwhile pitches, let alone the countless not-worthwhile pitches. As I like to joke, I imagine in my mind that healthcare PR and marketing people envision me (as well as my team members) sitting on a veranda somewhere, sipping mint juleps, and wondering why it’s been an entire two minutes since I last received a breathless yet totally useless pitch from another PR person. Well, in truth, I have no veranda, almost never drink mint juleps, and almost never wonder why the avalanche of PR pitches has ceased for two whole minutes…!

All that having been said, I had a very fruitful conversation recently with a solid healthcare PR professional who has been in the business many years and who knows our publication and knows me. Not surprisingly, she conceded that, as much as she tries, she and her colleagues at her PR firm find themselves in a difficult situation much of the time, because even though they are smart and know what we like and don’t like, they are under constant pressure to prove to their clients at vendor companies that they are assaulting us with pitches every day. I can empathize—up to a point—with their dilemma, but still, as I told this PR colleague, I just wish I didn’t get so many non-useful pitches every day.

So our conversation evolved into one in which I articulated to her exactly what is useful to me and my team at HCI, and what is not, and she said, “You know, Mark, you should write a blog about this; I’m sure it would be useful.” And so… here we are.So what’s useful to us at Healthcare Informatics, in terms of pitches coming from PR and marketing people? Let me begin by sharing a few very basic facts about our publication that somehow continue to elude a lot of you out there.

> First, our target audience is CIOs, CMIOs, and other healthcare IT leaders at hospitals, medical groups, and health systems, primarily in the U.S. We also keep in mind clinician leaders like CMOs and CNOs, and other c-suite executives, such as CEOs, COOs, and the like. And of course, much of our audience, percentage-wise, consists of people who report up to all these titles. But our editorial voice speaks most of all to CIOs and CMIOs, and their needs for policy, industry, operational, and strategic IT insights.

> Second, we are and will continue to be a strategically oriented publication. We do not write about the most technical or day-to-day operational issues, unless they link directly to the broadest strategic questions. So, for example,  we want to help our readers figure out how to strategize forward towards laying the IT infrastructure to support accountable care organizations under the Medicare Shared Savings Program or in the private sector; but the network cabling itself is not a core interest to us.

> Third, though we do publish a large volume of news items on our website daily, much of our core editorial energy is directed towards feature articles, trend pieces, and one-on-one interviews with true leaders in our industry.

In that regard, a few very basic tips:

> Above all, we have a strong editorial policy that severely limits direct vendor representation in our print and online publication. We will interview vendor executives for background, and will certainly always, when appropriate, mention the names of the vendor companies with whom our interviewees (especially CIOs and CMIOs) are partnering. But we very, very rarely interview vendor executives for direct attribution. There are always rare exceptions, but they are rare, and will remain so.

> Essentially, our readers want to hear from their peers: other CIOs, CMIOs, and other healthcare and healthcare IT leaders who are leading their patient care organizations forward towards what we have been calling the “new healthcare.” They also want to hear from respected independent consultants and from policy leaders. By and large, they only want to hear from vendors indirectly, through the experiences of their peers in patient care organizations.