Public Relations

PR for Healthcare Tech: Your Full Expert Guide

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Step-by-Step Guide to Public Relations for a Healthcare Technology Company

The healthcare industry is cluttered with a number of technology companies that have developed innovative solutions that solve pressing issues facing patients, clinicians, drug developers, device manufacturers, and more. Many of these can make a genuine difference in the lives of people living with countless diseases and advance the healthcare system. However, many people who have developed a cutting edge piece of technology often find it difficult, or don’t even have the time, to communicate to the necessary stakeholders in order to get meaningful awareness that’s necessary for growth.

There are a number of tactics that are essential to lead to that growth. The technology itself is going to be the centerpiece, with marketing, partnerships, infrastructure for production or implementation, industry knowledge, and much more playing critical roles. One of the biggest elements, however,  is a public relations strategy, which can make all the difference between breaking through the noise and actually impacting lives and advancing the standard of care, or going unnoticed and fading into obscurity.

Finding the right partner can be a driving force in elevating a PR strategy, but below is an outline of everything that needs to be done to begin a healthcare technology PR strategy.

Step 1: Define Your Healthcare Tech Company’s Objectives

First and foremost, in order to succeed in any capacity, an organization needs to outline its planned goals and objectives. The more extensive that these are, the better that they will be in helping to guide a team in achieving them.  Leadership should collaborate together to establish these goals, which can range from hitting certain sales numbers, being adopted by a certain percentage of potential customers, having increased brand awareness, or even attracting investor attention. 

Target audiences should be specific, targetable groups, such as healthcare providers, clinicians, hospital administrators, or the patients they serve themselves. Other goals should be clearly measurable, such as receiving XX% growth in a time period, or receiving XX% market saturation.

To get to this point, asking pointed questions during the early stages of strategy formation is imperative. Some of those questions can include, but are not limited to:

  • What are your short-term and long-term goals as a healthcare tech company?
  • Who constitutes your target audience within the healthcare industry?
  • What core message do you want to convey?
  • What challenges or issues does your technology aim to solve?
  • What defines success for your organization? 
  • What other companies in space do you think are your competitors?
  • What other companies do you think have done things right that you want to emulate in some capacity?  

Everything else a company does will simply pour back into these core objectives. The entire team should have them in hand and be intimately familiar, allowing individuals to ask themselves if any tactic is actually valuable for the organization. Don’t be afraid to compare with other companies, not to copy them, but to learn examples of what works and what doesn’t, to help refine future approaches.  

Step 2: Research and Understand the Healthcare Tech Landscape

Entering any industry requires copious amounts of preparation and forward thinking, but the amount needed to succeed in health is even greater. Anybody that has operated in the healthcare technology space has at some point already dug deep into understanding their product market and the need that creates an opportunity for innovation and progress. 

Research is vital, it fuels the treatments and devices that provide integral care, and is necessary for any innovation as it seeks widespread adoption. It’s also necessary to continue those efforts when it comes time to amplify a brand’s voice. 

This research involves taking a deeper look at the audiences that are trying to be reached, understanding their needs and what they choose to listen to. There also needs to be a deep understanding of the regulations and policies that factor into communications in every region that the product is going to be in. 

Some of the other key elements to research into when on the starting line for implementing PR in health tech: 

  1. Stay updated on industry trends, regulations and activities from competitors that could have an impact. 
  2. Identify key stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, regulators, and industry influencers.
  3. Understand which channels of communication are most effective and will be the best way to disseminate a message. 
  4. Analyze the healthcare technology landscape in specific markets and regions that will be targeted.
  5. See how other communications are phrased, what sort of information is shared, to identify areas of opportunity and also areas that have proven to be effective. 

Step 3: Develop a Detailed PR Strategy

With goals and research in place, it’s time to go through the process of developing a comprehensive public relations strategy. This strategy should breakdown every specific step, accounting for the already solidified goals and objectives and research that was conducted. 

This planned strategy should include: 

Key Messaging and Positioning

Based on a company’s mission, vision and overall goals, key messages then can be developed. These will lay out the value proposition of a production or solution, have a core message that guides the company, talk through the company’s strategy and approach at a high level, and more. Key messages serve as the bedrock for all communications, and should be adaptable for any situation down the road. Development of messages can be complicated, having to weigh in all of the important aspects of a business, a product, a leadership team, as well as the stakeholders that are going to hear them. 

While the core of the messages should stay the same throughout the implementation of a PR strategy, they will need to shift over time as business priorities shift, or new announcements make old ones irrelevant. Don’t be too afraid to make the necessary changes to stay relevant for the company as it develops, or how the target audience changes.

Target Media Outlets and influencers

Find out who the biggest movers and shakers there are in the niche that’s being targeted. Every community has voices that they turn to for trusted opinions and news, and a company just needs to identify those and the ways to reach out to them.  These can include:

  • Healthcare Technology Trade Publications
  • Business Trade Publications
  • Healthcare Blogs and other Digital Platforms
  • Social Media Influencers
  • Established Thought Leaders
  • Healthcare Associations, Advocacy Organizations, and Professional Societies
  • Healthcare Podcasts and Webinars
  • Related Niche Healthcare Forums and Online Communities

The research process will make it that much easier to know who to communicate with when the time comes to amplify PR messages. Additionally, developing target lists that splinter off depending on the type of announcement or message, such as business/investor focused publications or technology focused publications, can make that outreach even smoother. 

PR Tactics and Activities

Press Release

Press releases are the best way to formally disseminate news to a broad audience. They provide an opportunity to develop a controlled message that outlines all of the important information from a company development.

Not all announcements necessitate a release, but having a steady cadence of press release-worthy news will give the impression of constant activity at a company, as well as keep target audiences informed at all times.

Contributed Articles

Thought leadership has many layers, but establishing a presence in the media through contributed articles is a great way to start that process. Company executives can be positioned as thought leaders in the industry by sharing the unique opinions and solutions to pressing issues and making those thoughts known. 

Contributed content is a terrific outlet to get that process started, and can help lead to interview opportunities down the road, and also potential partnerships and business connections. 

Capitalizing on Healthcare Tech Conferences

Most companies participate in some kind of medical meeting or conference in the industry to network and learn from leaders. Whether or not a product is being launched or data is being shared, it is a great opportunity to connect with relevant media members or other influencers and elevate a brand. Additionally, finding opportunities to get company executives speaking at industry events can be another part of an effective thought leadership program.  

Interviews with Traditional Media and Podcasts

With the target media identified, a key tactic will be reaching out to them when a story is in hand to get their interest in an interview. Sometimes this will entail talking about a company announcement, and sometimes it will have to be discussing an industry trend that the reporter wants a comment on. This can get executive profiles and company messaging out into the masses, and while the discussions can’t be controlled, they are incredibly valuable. 

A Timeline and Budget

Clarify and determine roughly how much each tactic should cost throughout, to give a sense of where resources will be needed, and what may be out of reach. There are of course different variabilities with each element but some ballpark costs for traditional elements can include: 

  • Press releases: Monthly, approximately $5,000 per release, depending on the wire service used and the length of the release, including content creation. 
  • Thought leadership articles: Bi-monthly, costing approximately $8,000, including content creation and distribution. 
  • Participation in Healthcare Tech Conferences: Annually, approximately $50,000, including booth rental, travel expenses, promotional materials and conference registration. 
  • Sponsored Content: Intermittently, ranging anywhere between $2,000 and $50,000, depending on the style of content and the outlet that it will be distributed in. 
  • Media Interviews: Ongoing, with a budget of approximately $10,000 per quarter to account for development of outreach materials, conducting the outreach, and coordination of interviews.  
Steps to Developing a PR Approach in Health Tech

Step 4: Build Media Relationships

Building relationships with related media will also help to provide an outlet to tell a story when the time comes. This is a process that should not be expected to happen over night. Reporters are more stretched thin than ever before, and getting on their radar is difficult. Establishing trust and becoming a source can take even longer, just like developing any relationship. 

That being said, having journalists know about a company before a major announcement will be helpful when looking to get coverage of that announcement. There are a number of terrific media members covering the space, and many that drill down to specific niches across healthcare and medtech. 

It’s important to remember that journalists are not an enemy in any capacity; they are hard-working individuals that, in today’s market, are likely covering many different beats all at once. Be patient with them and help get them up to speed on what they need to know, being ready and willing to provide background information not only on a product, but the industry at large. 

Steps to building valuable media relationships include, but are not limited to: 

  • Identify prominent technology reporters, bloggers, and journalists.
  • Get familiar with their work and what they like to cover, making sure not to waste their time or seem uninformed. 
  • Initiate contact through email or social media platforms.
  • Connect with them without trying to pitch a product or solution, just to learn more and become established as a subject matter expert. 
  • Maintain the relationship regularly, continuing to consume their content and staying up to date on shifts in their beat or job roles. 
  • When the time comes, share valuable insights and offer your company as a resource for healthcare technology stories.

Step 5: Create Compelling Content

All of this will fall through if stakeholders don’t have compelling content to keep them hooked and coming back. Each piece of content needs to be compelling, ranging from press releases, blog posts, contributed articles and op-eds, infographics, social media posts, and more.

Careful research and understanding the audience are big first steps in putting that content together, seeing what sorts of topics resonate with them consistently, and what aspects have led to other content being received favorably. 

The process takes time and requires investment, but is worth it in the long run. Having interesting content will be the biggest driving force in keeping individuals coming back to the company for more, and an engaged audience is a valuable one. Importantly, mixing all different kinds of content helps with this as well, such as having both long and short-form text pieces, also mixing in elements like infographics or videos. 

Step 6: Leverage Social Media

Social media is a constantly shifting element, but it’s almost impossible to conduct an effective PR strategy without using it in some capacity. Hundreds of millions around the world use at least one platform, meaning that it’s an unavoidable necessary tool. But companies shouldn’t just force their way in where they don’t belong. 

Choosing which platforms to open accounts on and maintain should be thought out and carefully considered well before launching. No accounts should be made simply for the desire to have one. Only platforms that help to support the overall goals and objectives, and that are able to be supported by staff or outside PR partners, should be considered. 

For instance, many consider X as a place for a company newsfeed, while Facebook and Instagram are more committed to reaching out to patients, with LinkedIn a better platform for connecting with potential investors and business partners. 

After platforms are picked, develop a strategy to make sure content is posted regularly across all channels, positioning each post to be designed for target audiences. Content shouldn’t be reused across all channels, lest followers get bored, but should provide something different for followers on each. 

Elements of harnessing the power of social media platforms to amplify your healthcare tech company’s message include:

  • Maintaining active profiles on platforms that support business goals and objectives, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Sharing informative content, engaging with followers, and promptly responding to inquiries and relevant comments.
  • Keeping up a consistent cadence of content posting. 
  • Utilizing relevant healthcare tech hashtags to enhance visibility.

Step 7: Host Healthcare Tech Events and Webinars 

An additional outlet for amplification is to host proprietary events and webinars, providing the chance to be positioned as a leader in the space. This is just another way to develop content catered to key stakeholders, but provides a different delivery method. 

This is a critical part of becoming a trusted voice in healthcare, by positioning company leaders, or the organization in general, as a bona fide leader in their subject matter areas. Being in that stature will keep interested stakeholders coming back for more, even outside of major events or announcements, relying on insights and information instead of just purchasing a product.  

These webinars and event discussions need to be carefully tuned to make sure they are topics that the target audience cares about enough to actively check-in on. Effective webinars and events can’t be outlets to sell a product, but should instead seek to solve a problem that almost everybody in the audience has. 

There are also plenty of chances to set up events with established media partners or event organizers to help broaden that outreach even further. Leaders can even look to speak or present at established conferences and medical meetings to elevate the company platform even further. 

Any events and public appearances help to open up the door for new connections to be made with potential investors, partners, or customers, as long as there is something valuable to be said. 

Step 8: Monitor and Measure Results

Once a PR strategy has been put into place, measure up how it’s performing across all channels. This isn’t something that should be happening at the end of the process, but right at the start. Conversations and reactions happen in real time, and need to be monitored in that way. 

Monitoring will help to identify any potential issues as they crop up, rather than being caught flat-footed. Investing in reliable forms of monitoring, mixing between automated services as well as manual assessment. Even monitoring channels that weren’t initially targeted is important, as stakeholders can carry conversations to different locations, and those interactions are just as imperative to track. 

During the monitoring process, start to track and measure everything coming through to create a broad picture of performance. These measurements need to be made up against the initial goals laid out in the initial phases of the approach, giving an idea of the overall success of the program, and also identifying where shifts are potentially needed. 

Elements of monitoring and measuring include: 

  1. Tracking all media coverage and mentions, assessing for accuracy and message pull through.
  2. Assessing web traffic and determining what locations it’s coming from. 
  3. Watching all social platforms for both direct mentions and comments, as well  as conversations about the product or brand. 
  4. Conduct surveys or hold focus group discussions with target stakeholders to gauge their opinion on initiatives, to find out what is resonating and what isn’t. 
  5. Compare results to the initial goals. 
  6. Be prepared to adapt the strategy and change, based on how performance and reception is coming through and if the goals are being met. 
  7. Don’t overreact if goals aren’t met right away; some things take time, and constantly shifting strategy can often lead to inefficacy across the board. 

Step 8: Crisis Management

Unfortunately, crises do happen, and the ones that occur in health specifically can lead to much larger issues, fast. The most important piece of crisis management is to make sure that a plan is in place before a crisis happens; if a company is just putting together a plan after a crisis has broken, it’s already too late to manage it properly. 

Clear and transparent communications will always be imperative in a crisis, starting with  quickly developing core key messages for those communications to be based from. Research into the audiences that were impacted by the crisis, and understanding how they like to be communicated with, as well as how other organizations have navigated difficult situations, can help to build out a framework for the approach. 

There are no details too small to prepare for, such as knowing how will be involved in crisis responses, who will be a spokesperson, and what channels will be used to disseminate the company’s message when the time comes. 

Some steps to consider to make sure crises are handled effectively: 

  • Develop a comprehensive crisis communication plan, before a crisis.
  • Be comfortable being transparent. 
  • Train the whole team on crisis response protocols and how to respond to negative media coverage
  • Establish a crisis communication team responsible for swift and accurate information dissemination.
  • Have a designated person to serve as the communications point for any external and internal communications. 

Additionally, while having a plane in place is the best thing a company can do to prepare for a crisis, building a reputation as an honest and transparent organization will give a leg up as well. If there is already trust established between stakeholders and a company, crisis communications won’t fall on deaf ears, and will be that much more impactful. Think of the worst case scenario when developing a strategy. 

Our Approach at Channel V Media

At Channel V Media, we understand the care that goes into building a brand and getting healthcare innovations into the hands of the people that need them most. Our team knows the ins and outs of the health and medtech industries, having worked on successful software, devices, pharmaceuticals, and more. The whole team is committed to helping companies that have developed cutting edge technologies that can advance the standard of care across the board.

We carefully finetune PR strategies to reach specific target audiences, developing refined and clear key messages, establishing storylines that make people care, and finding the media that matter to tell those stories. We work closely with our clients to flesh out what is special about their innovation, and make sure that the right people know about it.

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