As Russo Partners wrapped up its three-day stint at the American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) Annual Scientific Session, our team members reflected on the display of media relations practices both good and bad by PR practitioners.
On one end of the continuum, inexperienced PR staffers from small and large agencies — and even those individuals with lofty titles — hounded reporters as they exited the conference’s media room. We witnessed several instances of “in your face” confrontations in which the PR people cut off reporters who clearly were in a rush to make it to media conferences. One PR person literally held a news release in front of a journalist, blocked the journalist’s path and launched into a pitch for a big pharma company’s drug trial. The annoyed journalist refused to touch the document, responded with a loud “I’m not interested,” and fled the area with the PR person following on her heels.
On the other end of the continuum, well-seasoned PR pros took the time to say brief “hellos” to journalists with whom they must have enjoyed working relationships, chatted with reporters about what physicians were talking about at the conference and then moved on to other activities. These activities involved sit-downs with the reporters and clients only where the on-site meetings were warranted — where new and timely information would calls for such meetings.
The second group is the one in which Russo Partners fits. Our healthcare PR counselors spent just as much time meeting with cardiologists and company executives at the ACC conference as they did meeting with journalists. And the meetings with journalists were mostly social in nature. For example, a dinner Saturday evening with Cardiovascular Business’s editor-in-chief, Chris Kaiser, and Molecular Insight’s CEO, John Babich, consisted of good discussion about a wide range of topics, including several timely story ideas related to the detection of ischemia in the emergency room. In addition, multiple coffee stops with reporters with national newspapers and the wire services produced interesting storylines for further exploration as well as stronger relationships. When we added a couple of media interviews with doctors and client company executives to this mix, including an update meeting with with the FAME study investigators and Bloomberg News’s Alex Nussbaum, we enjoyed a full schedule of productive interaction with journalists who will continue to turn to us for assistance.
Call it the Russo Partners media relations way or simply call it common sense. Regardless, it’s interesting to see how this way doesn’t seem to be the way of others in our industry.