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Health Happenings: How to Hook Media with Interactive Experiences

A Guide to Creating Corporate Messaging that Stands Out

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” But is it true when it comes to pitching media?

 

While an image alone is rarely enough to secure a story, it is an incredibly powerful asset to leverage. Something else to consider is offering an in-person, intimate, interactive experience between the media, your brand, and your customers. For example, something like a ride-along can bring this to life.

What’s a ride-along? A ride-along is an opportunity for a reporter to quite literally “ride along” and shadow a person for a duration of time. Ride-alongs are particularly beneficial for health tech companies that offer a service and/or product that have an immediate impact on a patient or customer. It’s an opportunity for the media and their viewers or readers to see, feel, hear, and experience the benefits of your service versus simply being told. It enables a first-hand look inside the health experience and health outcome.

How do you pitch a ride-along? What speed bumps might you arise? Read on for key considerations for when and how to offer a ride-along.

The benefits of media ride-alongs:

  • For media:
  1. 1. First-hand experience
  2. 2. Opportunities to ask questions in real-time
  3. 3. Ability to take live or recorded photos and videos
  4. 4. Interactions with an independent third-party
  • For your company:
  1. 1. Opportunities to build deeper media relationships
  2. 2. A chance to glean a ton of information that supports a feature story or segment
  3. 3. The ability to leverage multiple thought leaders and testimonials
  4. 4. It's an opportunity to show vs. only tell the benefits and impact of your company. 

Pitching considerations:

  • Print vs. broadcast: While often pitched as a broadcast media opportunity (where a crew film live or for an upcoming segment), ride-alongs are also useful when pitching a print/online feature story, especially if minimal travel is required for the media contact. Ensure you tailor your pitch based on the medium. For example, if it’s a broadcast opportunity, use terms such as segment vs. article.  
  • Internal spokespersons: Make sure anyone who is interacting with the media is media-trained and is confident in their key messaging. This is especially critical when the spokesperson will be with the media contact for an extended period of time. And remember, there is no such thing as off the record!
  • External spokespersons: When identifying a potential third-party spokesperson (e.g., patients) ensure you answer “yes” to the following questions: have they had a positive experience with my company in recent months? Is their situation a good representation of our service? Have they confirmed they are willing to speak to the media? Do they represent our target audience?
  • Time commitment: The actual time commitment of the ride-along is often dictated by the media contact, but 2–3 hours is a good starting point, as that allows enough time for travel, interviewing, and content capturing. However, that’s only part of the equation. The time your team will need to plan, prepare, and coordinate can span many hours for a single ride-along opportunity. 
  • Legal/regulations: Prior to pitching media, speak with your legal team about necessary documents you may need to provide spokespersons, patients, or media (e.g. HIPPA acknowledgements). 

How are media ride-alongs different during the pandemic?

  • Virtual interview: Some media contacts are only opting for virtual interviews during the pandemic, so it’s ideal to offer that as an alternative in your pitch.
  • Updated b-roll: B-roll is often used to complement the footage captured by the media contact. However, this might be the only video they have access to during the pandemic and can be the deciding factor on whether or not to move forward with a virtual interview opportunity. Always create and offer b-roll to reporters to supplement their story. Keep in mind your b-roll should be as timely as possible, such as reflecting your current PPE procedures.
  • Details are important: Now is not the time for surprises. Ensure reporters know exactly what to anticipate during a ride-along, especially in regards to new protocols (e.g., PPE). 

Ultimately, ride-alongs provide media and their viewers and/or readers a unique ability to experience a story first-hand and hear from real people on the front line. While the benefits are vast, there is also plenty of room for error given the complex nature of on-site and in-person coordination. Carefully approach your planning process and you’ll quickly speed toward success!

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