4 Insights from Health and Med-Tech Media Members

While a lot has changed in the Twin Cities, we still have one of if not the most dynam­ic health­care land­scapes in the coun­try. In fact, accord­ing to the Med­ical Alley Asso­ci­a­tion, in 2017, a record $735 mil­lion was raised by 85 com­pa­nies in med­ical device, dig­i­tal health, bio­phar­ma and diag­nos­tics. On Wednes­day, some of the Twin Cities’ most influ­en­tial med-tech and health pro­fes­sion­als gath­ered under one roof for an enlight­en­ing pan­el dis­cus­sion with four mem­bers of local and nation­al health media – Michelle Cortez of Bloomberg News, Joe Carl­son of the Star Tri­bune, Kathy Grayson of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Busi­ness Jour­nal, and Chris New­mark­er of WTWH Media. The pan­el was mod­er­at­ed by Hye­di Nel­son, who leads the Bell­mont Part­ners Health Prac­tice Group.

This lat­est event in our Talk­ing Points Dis­cus­sion pan­el – “In The News, In the Know” – co-host­ed with Arik Han­son of ACH Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in part­ner­ship with The Med­ical Alley Asso­ci­a­tion and Device Talks, brought us togeth­er to dis­cuss trends, oppor­tu­ni­ties and tried and true best prac­tices for work­ing with jour­nal­ists. Going straight to the source, we talked with these reporters about what they’re see­ing in the indus­try, what they’re look­ing for in a good sto­ry and how med­ical com­pa­nies (regard­less of size or stage) can be bet­ter pre­pared to pitch them news­wor­thy content.

Make your sto­ry compelling

All of the pan­elists agreed on one thing that almost goes with­out say­ing – the sto­ry needs to be com­pelling. Joe Carl­son point­ed out that Min­neso­ta is home to upwards of 500 health-relat­ed com­pa­nies, and he needs to bring a good case to his edi­tor before putting a com­pa­ny in ink. While finan­cial updates can pro­vide good mile­stones or sub­stan­ti­a­tion, Michelle Cortez explained she’s look­ing for some­thing big­ger – “a sto­ry your neigh­bor would want to know about if they weren’t already inter­est­ed in your job.” And to that point, the sto­ry should be some­thing that your neigh­bor can fol­low in layperson’s terms. Even the most tech­ni­cal sto­ries can be bro­ken down and Michelle reminds us of the impor­tance of good spokes­peo­ple (even out­side of the C‑suite) – using metaphors and sim­i­les where nec­es­sary to share the sto­ry for the widest audience.

The mak­ings of a good story

While num­bers are impor­tant, com­pa­nies don’t need to share enor­mous earn­ings or earth-shat­ter­ing inno­va­tion to offer a good hook. Start-ups can share rel­e­vant “firsts”: the first pilot with a health sys­tem, a first cus­tomer, new clin­i­cal data or a round of fund­ing. There’s often an unex­pect­ed angle that’s news­wor­thy. Is your head­quar­ters mov­ing but your oper­a­tions stay­ing in town? “The land­scape is chang­ing,” Chris New­mark­er explained. More tra­di­tion­al med-device firms are hir­ing increas­ing num­bers of soft­ware devel­op­ers and evolv­ing to ser­vice-based solu­tions. Kathy Grayson in par­tic­u­lar is inter­est­ed in how the new con­sumer-focused tech com­pa­nies are mak­ing their mark on the industry.

Get­ting in on the big­ger story

The pan­el also sug­gest­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­pa­nies to tie them­selves to a big­ger nation­al sto­ry or top­ic – from cyber-secu­ri­ty to vir­tu­al real­i­ty, retailiza­tion of health­care and more.

For exam­ple, Ama­zon is mov­ing into dis­trib­ut­ing sup­plies to hos­pi­tals. There would be a good oppor­tu­ni­ty for any local hos­pi­tals uti­liz­ing the ser­vice to be a part of that big­ger, nation­al sto­ry. You don’t have to be the one mak­ing the news to share a valu­able per­spec­tive about it.

Pitch­ing dos and don’ts

Before con­tact­ing any of them, how­ev­er, keep in mind a few best prac­tices. Do your research on the out­let and the reporter. Include a good (avail­able) media con­tact in your pitch and news release, and have high-res­o­lu­tion art ready to go (for exam­ple, a prod­uct pho­to and head­shot of the exec­u­tive being inter­viewed). But above all, put your­self in their shoes, and the shoes of the read­ers, to share the most com­pelling story.

We cov­ered a lot of ground in our one-hour pan­el, and thanks again to the jour­nal­ists who took time out of their sched­ules to share their insights on the health and med-tech land­scape with us, and to the indus­try lead­ers who joined us for the event. Be sure to check out some pho­tos of the event on the Bell­mont Part­ners Face­book page!

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