30 Jun The Power of Patient Testimonials to Tell Your Story
One of the most compelling ways to garner media interest for your health care organization, company or hospital is through the use of patient testimonials. Whether you’re advocating to find a cure for lung cancer, developing a new drug for patients who suffer from heart disease or promoting a breakthrough medical procedure at your hospital, patient stories can be crucial in helping you to reach your key stakeholders and earn you ink.
Patient testimonials add a human element that your target audiences can actually relate to. Their personal experiences and successes using your product or facility, or advocating for a cause on behalf of your organization, better resonates with the media who are then more likely to write an article using that human interest angle. So you may ask, why should I let a patient tell my organization/company/facility’s story instead of my spokesperson?
Here are some benefits of using patient stories for media interviews:
- Builds trust about your company’s product, organization or facility
- Overcomes skepticism about your product, organization or facility’s mission
- Builds credibility for your company, organization or facility
- Substantiates your claim
- Compels your target audience to take action
- Endorses your key benefits without coming across as a sales pitch
So with these benefits, how do you find the right patients and ensure that they appropriately represent your company/organization/facility when speaking with the media on your behalf? Here are a few tips to consider.
Find the Right Patients
Identifying the right patients can be the hardest and most daunting task to undertake; often the majority of patients are very private and not willing to share details about their health condition, especially with the world. Here are some ways to get around this. If you are a pharmaceutical manufacturer who is trying to promote a new medication that treats heart disease, for example, your best bet is to find a doctor(s) that has patients that are using that medication and have had successful, positive treatment outcomes. There are many doctors who are willing to work with you and endorse your product and, in turn, put you in touch with their patients. Another option may be to reach out to a heart association and see if they are willing to put you in touch with their members who may be using your medication. Many organizations want to promote their causes and are often willing to partner with you to obtain media coverage.
Build Your Story Around the Patient
After identifying patients willing to do media interviews, you need to work with them to build a compelling story that will showcase the positive impact of your product, cause or facility, but at the same time keep it real and genuine. For example, if you operate a hospital that is introducing a new laser technology to treat vision loss, patients can focus their storylines on how after undergoing surgery using your technology, their vision significantly improved and their quality of life is back to normal. The validation that you receive from an empowered patient speaks volumes and has a positive result on your company/organization/facility. The main goal is to let the patients tell their stories and, in turn, weave in your messages in a non-promotional way.
Ensure Patients are Comfortable with the Process
It is imperative that patients you work with fully understand how the media works and know what to expect. Conduct a media training session where they can practice their key talking points and familiarize themselves with the interview process from start to finish. Try to relieve any anxieties they may have about their personal lives going public. Never try to force a patient to do an interview they are not comfortable with because it can create an unpleasant experience for all parties involved. The more you can prepare them, the better they will do and the more they will be willing to participate in the media process.
Expect A Successful Outcome
If you have identified the right patients, developed a newsworthy pitch around their story (incorporating your key messages) and properly prepared them to handle media interviews, then you can expect positive media results via articles, television and radio segments. Using patient testimonials helps create a strategy that not only markets your company/organization/facility, but lets your target audiences know that you care about providing them a healthier environment and lifestyle. It is a win-win situation for both you and the patient.
The key to executing this successfully is ensuring that you have a steady flow of patients willing to speak with the media. Try to diversify the demographics of the patients so that you can offer the media a variety of different story angles. Before the interview, determine exactly what the reporter is looking for, so you can match them with the right patient. Following these tactics can help you garner positive coverage for your company/organization/facility and casts you in a positive light among your target audiences.
Marichelli Hughes leads the media relations practice at 720 Strategies.