Pitch Perfect: Getting Your Story Covered In Healthcare Design
Between the four of us, the editors of Healthcare Design keep a watchful eye on the healthcare front, scouring the news about new facilities, talking to our contacts in the field about pressing issues, conducting site visits, and noting trends as they ebb and flow. And there’s no end to the number of press releases and pitches we each receive every day, alerting us to new things on the horizon and anything we may have overlooked.
This is a good thing. Spam notwithstanding, we’re quite eager to receive legitimate story pitches and news alerts—between the website, the print magazine, and the conferences, we’re always hungry for content.
However! We’re very picky. If you want to put your best pitch forward, consider these tips:
Pitch first, write later. If you have a great story idea, or you’ve worked on a new/renovated facility with a good story to tell, write up a couple of paragraphs that summarize the whole piece. Bullet points work, too. See the later tips for details on what to include with this information. The point here is, it’s better to make sure we’re interested in the concept before you go to the trouble of writing up a full story and submitting it as a fait accompli. Do you already have a story written, so it’s no trouble to send the whole thing? That’s fine. We’ll still take a look. Unless…
Me first! We won’t accept already-written articles that have run anywhere else, and that includes your own website, blog, or promotional materials. We strongly prefer exclusivity/first-run rights on pitches and we weigh that in our decision making. If you’re simultaneously pitching an idea to other competitive media outlets, we’ll still consider it, but please mention this up front. And if you already have a commitment from another media outlet (or you get one before you’ve finalized an assignment with us), tell us. It’s a good faith thing.
God is in the details, and timeliness is next to godliness. Of course, we want timely, fresh information and insight. And as a rule of thumb, when we consider profiling a specific facility, we’re looking for a project that was completed within one year of the pitch. (Unfinished projects may find a place, too.) Whatever the topic, always include the following information: relevant dates (facility completion, research conducted, etc.); names and credentials of the author and/or sources; whether or not there are hi-res photos/renderings available; and whether or not you’re offering exclusivity.
“Why should they care?” After you write your pitch, ask yourself: Why would someone involved in designing a physical space for healthcare want to know about this topic? If you can’t come up with an answer, then the story isn’t for us. If you can come up with an answer, write it down, and add it to your pitch. “Connect the dots!” is my personal editing battle cry. If your pitch (and the subsequent article) can’t make it immediately clear why our readers should care, there’s a good chance they won’t.
Show and tell. Photos. Photos, photos, photos. Please include a couple of low-res images of the facility/project with your pitch if you have them (telling me you’ll send photos later if I want to see them is adding an unnecessary step). If you don’t have photos, tell us when you’ll get them, if at all. High-quality photography that supports the points made in a pitch/article is an enormous selling point. We like solid, information-rich charts and graphs, too. And photos. Did I mention photos?
No soliciting. As a matter of editorial policy, we do not accept vendor-bylined articles, nor do we include specific product or vendor names within features. (There are occasional exceptions for blog posts and issues that are unrelated to the company’s products; we consider those on a case by case basis.) Additionally, we’re not interested in project profiles that are really just PR pieces for specific firms, in disguise. We’re looking for actionable takeaways for our readers: What were the operational problems, and how did the design solve them? How exactly is this trend playing out in the physical environment? What does this research mean to the design of facilities? The takeaway needs to go beyond “…and that’s why you need our product or service.”
UPDATE: Beginning in January 2016, we'll have a new products section in every issue of the print magazine. Check out our editorial calendar for topics. Also, we invite vendors to submit new product releases to us at any time, to HCDproductsnews@emeraldexpo.com, for consideration (though no guarantees of publication).
A few other things you need to know about us before pitching:
- No phone pitches. Email pitches are strongly preferred (my email address is with my bio on this page) so we can keep track of them all. And please, include just one story idea per email; split multiple pitches into separate emails. (Again, it makes it easier for us to manage, keeping good ideas from falling through the cracks.)
- Most of our features are written in house by us, our contributing editors, or professional journalists. Our columns, however, are typically written by industry experts working in the field (a.k.a. you).
- Almost all articles go online first, and we pull from that content when assembling our print issues. As such, we’re constantly assigning and writing new articles; we’re not wedded to our print editorial calendar’s schedule. (The editorial calendar is a good snapshot of trends and timely issues we’re interested in, though.)
- We stockpile story pitches and try to review them as a team once a month—another reason to make sure your pitch is thorough, so that if it does spark an interest, it doesn’t take several more weeks of back-and-forth before we can make an informed decision.
Any questions? Email me anytime. And keep the pitches coming.