Writing for a trade publication is very different from writing for a newspaper. I know this because I spent the first 6-7 years of my career as a sports reporter for several local — and one semi-national — newspapers. At that time in my life, it was a great job and I loved (almost) every minute of it. I was the envy of my male friends getting paid — albeit peanuts — to cover football games, and at the ripe age of 23, it didn’t bother me in the least working nights and weekends, putting thousands of miles on my beat-up old car driving across the state of Pennsylvania and getting zero respect from readers who forked over no more than 50 cents for the end product of my blood, sweat and tears. But as I approached 30, the act started to get old and I decided it was time for a change.
I stumbled into healthcare IT and quickly became intrigued with the field, particularly as stories relating to EMRs and e-prescribing started to bleed more and more into mainstream media outlets. While the challenge with sports writing was making each basketball game in a long season seem fresh without using the same story lines and clichés, the challenge with health IT writing, at least for me, has always been trying to keep up with all the new developments and innovations that constantly come across my desk.
Newspapers and trade magazines are just different by nature; the two, in fact, are like apples and oranges. And while it took me a long time to work through some of the frustrations that I faced as a newspaper reporter — like dealing with angry parents who don’t understand why I didn’t write more about their son when in fact, junior barely comes off the bench or coaches who provide unusable sound bites — it has also taken some time to work through some of the frustrations I face in my current job. One of those is having to go through public relations representatives to land an interview.
Don’t worry, I’m not using this blog as a chance to slam PR reps; on the contrary, I’m hoping I can leverage this forum to improve communications with our friends on the other side. I know that PR is very hard work, and I truly do appreciate the efforts that reps go through to help us land interviews. But there is one very important request that I must ask of you: when we ask to be connected with a CIO, please give us the CIO. At HCI, we’ve made it our goal to approach every article from a strategic level and to make it as valuable as possible to our target readers, C-suite executives. We realize that department heads or other professionals may have been more closely involved in the initial implementation or the day-to-day maintenance of a product, but we’re looking for the bigger picture — the enterprise-wide picture.
To use an analogy from my newspaper days, it would be like calling athletic department of a high school asking to speak to the head football coach and being connected to the trainer or the freshman coach. I’m sure either of those people can answer my questions, but it’s not necessarily the point of view I’m looking for.
We know it can be rather difficult to reach a CIO and pin him/her down for an interview, but to us, the story just doesn’t work without them.