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Holiday seasoning.

If doctors and hospitals treated patients the way PR agencies treat editors, there would be a lot more dead people.

Here's an abbreviated physician/ hospital scenario. I go to my doctor with knee pain. He says, "You need to see an orthopedic specialist. Here's a referral to Dr. Gray." After a nine-month conservative course of treatment, Dr. Gray recommends surgery. I agree, and my health plan approves. On the appointed day, I arrive at the surgical center. Dr. Gray greets me, along with a medical team that appears to be very experienced. The surgery goes splendidly, and my recovery is imminent.

When a PR agency and a vendor join forces to gain increased media exposure for the vendor--look out. If the vendor knew how to gain visibility on his own, he wouldn't be there, so he also doesn't know what to request or require from the agency. That's good, because the agency usually fails to educate him. But, principals of the agency do personally court the vendor with dinner, theater tickets, leather-bound proposals and promises of column inches to come.

The vendor signs on the dotted line, believing his retainer will deliver trade press ink. The next thing the PR agency does is turn the whole account over to Tiffany Brittany Morgan, a wispy-voiced 22-year-old whose PR experience consists of staffing a phone bank during her local PBS fund-raiser. The first thing Tiffany does is call me.

"Hello, Robin, this is Tiffany Brittany Morgan from Elite Software and I'm calling because your editorial calendar shows an upcoming article on security and Elite's product would be a perfect fit and I'm wondering if you can tell me who the assigned writer is and what the angle is so I can deluge him with useless press releases followed by annoying phone calls to make sure he includes Elite in the article."

Vendors: Calculate your due diligence by the cubic ton. Tiffany's type floods the agency landscape, and her work is not a desired outcome for your investment. Tiffany is a great way to ruin your relationship with a trade magazine before the magazine even knows who you are.

PR agencies: Don't let greenhorns steer the ship. In fact, don't let them board the ship until they pass a swimming test.

Here's what the same medical scenario would look like if orchestrated by a PR agency. I go to my doctor with knee pain. He says, "See an orthopedic specialist. Here's a referral to Dr. Gray." After a nine-month course of treatment, Dr. Gray recommends surgery, but he doesn't tell me that Dr. Johnny B. Goode will perform it. Johnny is a first-year medical student with no orthopedic training and no surgical experience. Dr. Gray won't be there to guide him and neither will anyone else. Johnny will perform the surgery in a back alley behind the hospital, close to its ER, in case anything goes wrong. Something does, and come January, Phil Reynolds is writing this column.

All I want for Christmas is: 1) continued killer content for HMT's 45,000 subscribers; 2) PR people with proven seasoning and indisputable integrity; 3) head-to-toe kneepads.

Meanwhile, it does take a village. Happy holidays from the HMT team: Mike, Phil, Kathleen, Rich, Renee, Garry, Brian, Kim S., Connie, Sandy, Barbara, Becky, Emma, Kim M., Laura, Jackie, Don and me.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:From the Editor
Author:Blair, Robin
Publication:Health Management Technology
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Previous Article:Making the EMR user-friendly enough to use.
Next Article:IPA wins EMR-patient safety grant.

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