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How to Make Your Alliance Stories Newsworthy (Except When You Don’t Want Them to Be!)—Part Three

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017

In a lively presentation punctuated by pithy quotes, interesting cases, and vivid stories underscoring the “dos” and “don’ts” of alliance public relations, Lori McLaughlin, corporate communications director at Anthem, and ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, staff vice president, strategic initiatives, and chief of staff, HealthCore, explored the topic in their Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session, “Why Keep the Good News to Yourself? Internal Partnerships for External Promotion: How to Work with Your PR/Communications Lead.” ASAP Media’s coverage of the session concludes below in Part Three of this three-part blog series.


Elaborating on recommended practices for sustaining stories, Paige noted that HealthCore maintains an editorial content calendar tracking key events, key milestones in collaborations (and whether they are newsworthy internally or externally), major publications or presentations, and significant accomplishments. “Not only does this become a huge part of our potential press, items on our website, LinkedIn and Twitter, but the story could make our company newsletter, our Anthem intranet, it could become talking points for senior executives in a variety of settings, and so on. So these elements are very much reused and the story is extended,” she explained.


“No presentation about PR would be complete without the ‘know your role in the event of a crisis’ topic,” Paige continued. “We say we need to err on the side of transparency. When a potential threat becomes known, advise your alliance partner around the possible impact.” The presenters then cited a real-life case of a reporter who believed that a partnership created a conflict of interest—and was sniffing around for proof of his allegations after discovering an old press release announcing the partnership. “We contacted the partner, said here’s the essence of allegation, the reporter is claiming some sort of conflict of interest, then we told the partner the facts and why we didn’t think there was a conflict,” Paige explained. “The partner prepped their leaders. The story did come out but it amounted to nothing. Still, we wanted to make sure we covered all our bases.”


McLaughlin and Paige’s final checklist for partnering with communications to tell your alliance stories:

  • Make sure you know who to work with in PR long before ready to share story.
  • Approach the team long before you’re ready.
  • Don’t ask for a press release. “Ask how they can help you tell a story to a specific audience or broader audience. That will make you look so sophisticated as you make that request,” McLaughlin emphasized.
  • Understand news value and lead with it when pitching the story to your communications team.
    Coordinate with alliance partners. Share talking points and plans across collaborators.

In response to a session participant’s question, McLaughlin wrapped up the discussion by returning to the importance of ensuring your alliance announcements are newsworthy stories—and of NOT pushing an announcement that the media would consider a throw-away put out by PR hacks.


“More than putting out press release, it’s pitching the story,” McLaughlin explained. “Reporters say they like me because I don’t pitch a story unless I have one—so they at least give me the benefit of doubt. [That’s important] because they get so many stories thrown at them. Certain companies shoot out a release when anything happens, but this so-called ‘news’ is not really relevant, and therefore, they don’t have that credibility that I’ve earned with media. That’s your long-term argument” when you push back on your boss’s request to issue a release on a story that isn’t so newsworthy—“you want that credibility.”

Tags:  alliance manager  alliance partner  alliances  Anthem  AstraZenica  Brooke Paige  credibility  Dow Jones News Service  FiercePharma  HealthCore  Lori McLaughlin  Medical News Today  news value  newsworthy  partnering  Pharmacist elink  pitching story  press releases  SmartBrief  spokesperson  threat 

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