Like any organization, UMass Memorial Health Care’s media relations team will deal with the occasional “bad news” story, but it has an even more important mandate around positive coverage. In fact, the organization has tasked its media team to generate 100 “good news” stories each year.
That might seem like a tall order for a group that consists of only four people, but there are other complications, as well. Located in western Massachusetts, the largest market in the U.S. without a dedicated TV news network, UMass Memorial battles for attention from TV news crews in Boston.
“It’s not just a matter of putting a positive spin on negative stories, but pitching those stories that show what we’re capable of,” explains Tony Berry, senior director of media and PR at UMass Memorial Health. “We’re not only pitching the touchy-feely good news, but also stories about cutting-edge medicine and doctors.”
Another area of interest is news of heroic acts, such as a nurse saving a man who lost consciousness watching his daughter’s gymnastics recital, and another saving a man’s life mid-flight.
For UMass Memorial, such coverage helps set the organization apart from nearby healthcare providers in Boston. However, these stories might never have gotten the attention they deserve without Cision’s technology.
It’s not just a matter of putting a positive spin on negative stories, but pitching those stories that show what we’re capable of. We’re not only pitching the touchy-feely good news, but also stories about cutting-edge medicine and doctors
Tony Berry, UMass Memorial Health Care
Berry and his team use Cision Comms Cloud, a platform that integrates a wide variety of tools for researching media outlets, targeting a pitch, monitoring coverage, and managing PR campaigns. The most recent edition of Cision Comms Cloud also integrates PR Newswire’s distribution service, as well as HARO (Help a Reporter Out), where journalists can make requests for sources.
According to Berry, UMass Memorial reached its annual goal of 100 good news stories before summer 2017, which he attributes in large part to the power of Cision Comms Cloud. This includes:
Coverage about what matters
Many years ago, a 3-year-old girl had to have complex heart surgery to save her life. She needed a similar procedure at 21 while living in California. After struggling to find the right medical professional in her hometown, she and her mother tracked down the original doctor at UMass Memorial Medical Center. This became a great news story – TV crews from Boston flocked to the facility.
“It just took off and received tremendous coverage,” recalls Berry. The Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, and national trade publications have picked up many of the team’s good news stories. Stories have also appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Influencer identification by geography
For news with a regional angle, the team has been able to reach out to specific outlets and reporters, Berry says.
“If you don’t know who the players are, you’re not going to be able to successfully pitch those folks,” he explains. “I am getting the most updated information from Cision to contact the right people who can make the right news decision.”
Cross-functional story ideation
Berry describes himself as a comms pro with “a passion for pitching,” but he recognizes that not everyone has the same zeal. However, access to Cision has opened up new interest across UMass Memorial Health Care.
“I can work in any environment, but this new platform makes it better for our team to identify opportunities,” he notes.
When Berry sent an email request to colleagues asking for ideas, he received one that proved so good, he secured interviews with two outlets. “It only took me an hour,” he says.
Improved subject matter expert preparation
Before using Cision Comms Cloud, Berry and his team would manually put together a briefing book for an employee about to be interviewed by the media. Now, information about a publication, reporter, or editorial calendar can be pulled electronically.
“It saves time,” he explains. “I often work with doctors who are too busy to give feedback, but they have shared that the briefing book was very helpful.”
In a nutshell, the Cision Comms Cloud, Berry says, has provided simplicity and integration among an array of helpful features.