Pre-Selling Markets With Public Relations: A Healthcare Marketer's Secret Weapon

How PR Helps B2B Healthcare Marketers Pre-Sell New Products

Leveraging public relations as part of a well-rounded marketing strategy unlocks opportunities you can’t get from company-owned media resources. The right PR strategies generate buzz, create awareness, and connect with your target audience. Timed precisely, you can use a pre-launch PR strategy to multiply your other efforts as you gear up for a new product launch. Think of it as pre-selling: educating your audience through PR ahead of a launch means they will be aware of and interested in your product before they ever get in touch with your sales team.

And the best part? Public relations does all this in a credible, cost-effective way. Ahead of a big product launch, consider how public relations can boost your sales funnel and your bottom line.


Why Don’t Healthcare Marketers Use PR?

PR is often considered a discipline outside of the traditional marketer’s wheelhouse — including aspects of journalism, public affairs, or even government relations. Public relations is a specialty in its own right, and savvy marketers should leverage it to support their marketing campaigns.

However, since it is a discipline that differs from other marketing activities, it takes a different mindset to successfully create and run a public relations strategy.

PR is a long play. It’s a strategy that takes time to cultivate because it depends on industry experience and relationships in addition to a specialized skill set. It requires different channels, different messaging, and different methods of outreach.

Public relations is often underutilized when it comes to product launches because it takes time and patience, not just budget. But this means there’s an opportunity for your product launch to stand out with a successful PR strategy.

Public Relations Builds Trust and Supports Strong Sales

In healthcare, building trust with your audience is paramount — no matter the campaign. Public relations infuses your B2B product launches with credible, authentic stories that raise awareness while fostering trust. You already know how valuable referrals and word-of-mouth marketing are for your brand. A powerful PR strategy helps you generate more of those results.

One aspect of public relations is to leverage trusted media to influence audiences. When respected influencers and authorities like trade publication editors, respected healthcare leaders, or industry news outlets endorse your brand and product before it officially launches, you get a head start. Whether by virtue of organization, position, longevity, or expertise, these authorities and influencers have already gained an audience. And you can capture that audience’s attention through a solid third-party sharing your story.

Earned media provides increased exposure for your brand and products. More importantly, it can build trust. Third-party endorsements are seen as objective and unbiased, so a positive story from a respected industry voice carries much more weight than your own marketing materials. In addition, the credibility and authority of the third party are "loaned" to your brand and product. As a result, PR enables you to fast-track the trust-building process with your intended audience.

That trust supports your sales. In addition, the press cycle offers opportunities to recognize and support the network of resellers you contract with through publicity opportunities. This elevates your entire sales funnel and supports important industry relationships.

Create Anticipation Ahead of Product Launches

Public relations adds value to an integrated marketing communications plan by pre-selling target markets prior to introducing a new product. You have the opportunity to position yourself as a leader in the industry by providing timely and relevant information to the media that pertains to your planned product launch. By getting the attention of national and regional trade media and influencers, you can begin to generate important awareness and buzz around your brand.

Next, you can narrow your focus on the product itself by pre-selling and supporting specific sales efforts. When rolling out new products, opportunities to pursue editorial coverage and in-depth features on your company, its commitment to quality products, efficient distribution, and reliable dealers will sow the seeds of success for your upcoming campaigns.

How to Successfully Pre-Sell Your Target Healthcare Markets in 5 Steps

Press coverage builds an important authentic and credible reputation. And image is critical to sales success because it ties directly to how comfortable dealers and consumers feel about selling and purchasing your products.

Here are five steps to get your public relations strategy started as you plan for your next product launch:

1. Meet Your Customers Where They Are

It’s important to understand where your audience consumes information and choose media outlets and events accordingly. The easier it is for word to circulate, the more of your audience you can reach.

Do this by first determining who you want to focus on, and develop a clear plan to reach them. Start with identifying your target audience to ensure your campaign will resonate. Who are the influencers, specifiers, evaluators and purchasers? Then, review and refine your database of media outlets and influencers to ensure you have complete and updated listings. Your list should include regional and national media outlets, relevant influencers, and industry authorities.

You may even want to think outside the healthcare sector to reach the right people. Including more general mass media, business media or targeting other tangential sectors may broaden your reach.

​​2. Focus on the Medium and the Message

Prior to conducting any outreach, identify the key messages that will best position your company and product in the marketplace with each audience segment. These messages should be tailored to meet not only the needs of your target publications but also the channels of distribution and customers you want to connect with.

Adopt your target audience’s point of view to identify the most relevant stories or experiences that will resonate. Then, focus on how to best deliver those messages. Is a TV interview or a print feature the best way to showcase how a product delivers better patient outcomes? Consider the stories that empathize with your audience and tailor it to the medium that will deliver the message.

3. Customize Materials for Each Outlet

Develop basic press materials including testimonials, product videos, press release templates, product fact sheets, executive biographies, and contact information, tailoring them to the requirements of specific outlets. For example, print magazines require hi-res photography and compelling product imagery. Online or news media sites may require video clips or snippets of product demos.

Think about the questions people will have and make it easy for them to write about you. This way your support package gives the media what they need to hit the right messaging AND doubles as internal materials to debrief your team on the strategy.

4. Make a Good Media Impression

To interview successfully, you need to consider who within your organization is the best ambassador for your message. Once you’ve identified them, provide media training to ensure they are comfortable and equipped to be interviewed. CEOs and organization leaders are often comfortable with public speaking and interviews, but a product manager or healthcare provider might not be. This is why media training is vital.

A successful interview relies on strong talking points and good preparation. Identify the key messages that are vital to communicate, and practice hitting those no matter what the question is.

5. Continue to Build Relationships

It’s important to maintain your public relations strategy — even after you’ve successfully launched a B2B healthcare product. Once you’ve established relationships, you need to put in regular work to continue them. Remember that these relationships are a two-way street. Staying in touch with reporters and influencers is as much about establishing yourself as a reliable resource when they are in need of expertise in your particular field.

To strengthen your PR capabilities for future campaigns, consider these post-launch activities:

  • Maintain regular contact with editors, reporters, and influencers in your areas of expertise.
  • Capitalize on opportunities to interview or provide information on relevant trends and industry stories.
  • Review editorial calendars to develop a list of opportunities for the year, including award submissions and feature stories.
  • Identify areas to refresh your campaigns with potential news and feature angles.
  • Pursue the placement of press releases, feature stories, and partnership profiles where appropriate.
  • Identify opportunities for bylined article submissions on appropriate topics to help reach audiences.

Pre-Sell With PR to Boost Your Business

Audiences are conditioned to take marketing and advertising with a grain of salt. That doesn’t mean your campaign will be ineffective, just that your audience is aware that they are the recipient of a marketing campaign.

Pre-sell with public relations to achieve a measure of objectivity and credibility that sets your product launch up for success before you even get started. Partnering with an agency like Core helps you discover the stories that will resonate and translate them into a successful PR strategy as part of your B2B product launch.

author

Laila Waggoner serves as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships for Core Health, Core Creative’s specialized healthcare marketing practice. Laila brings more than 30 years of experience working with regional health systems, community hospitals, academic medical centers, hospices, managed care organizations and B2B healthcare brands in markets across the country. She’s held in-house health system and agency leadership roles, and provides unique insight into how clients can best leverage the strategic branding, marketing and creative resources of an agency partner.

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