HIMSS13 PR: an interview with Joyce Lofstrom
The HIMSS 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibition is fast approaching and PR professionals are working hard to rise above the noise and generate exposure for their companies. As Director, Corporate Communications for HIMSS, Joyce Lofstrom leads a team tasked with driving media interest in the event and helping support the needs of PR pros. In this interview, she discusses her objectives, challenges and new developments.
Dodge: You’ve been with HIMSS for more than a decade. How have your communications objectives for the Annual Conference evolved over time?
Lofstrom: Much has changed since my first HIMSS conference in 2003 in San Diego (I joined HIMSS in December 2002). My objectives have remained constant in that our corporate communications team at HIMSS wants to make sure that we offer consistent quality for media and media liaisons. How we do things has changed over the years based on the evolution of technology itself and the burgeoning interest in health IT. So, for that ‘consistent quality,’ some of the updates to the conference from a media relations perspective include:
- Providing online registration for media liaisons;
- Sending the pre-registered press list more often to media liaisons;
- Setting up the media interview room and online sign-up for interview times; and
- Offering our annual “Managing Media Relations” complimentary webinar.
- Ensuring media have their own room – the press room – to work during the conference;
- Reviewing our media credentialing guidelines each year, since that definition has changed from the print-only days;
- Including more work stations in the news room on-site; and
- Continuing to work with media so they have what they need for stories, interviews, etc. related to the conference.
Dodge: The event is a “must attend” for the healthcare IT trade press and blogging community. What are some of the ways you generate interest with the national business and consumer media?
Lofstrom: A question you and I have discussed quite often…how to get the national business and consumer media to the conference. I’ll go back to what a good reporter friend of mine told me on relevant news. This is the question her team asks about news coverage: Who Cares and Why Now?
As we both know, health IT has been the topic of coverage in many of the national pubs and from many angles- public policy, consumer/patient engagement, clinicians’ use, improved patient care…the list goes on. People do care about health IT now…because they are seeing EHRs in their physicians’ offices or at the bedside in a hospital or they look up their own health information using a mobile device.
As to how we at HIMSS attract national business and consumer media to the conference, it is with the ongoing strategy of knowing what reporters write or care about…and then, tailoring a story to their beat or interest. That sounds a bit simplistic, but I think public relations professionals still rely on that approach.
Most reporters care about data, new data, so research released at the conference, such as the Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey, usually generates interest to a broad audience. How we communicate about that research may change as well, such as adding an infographic to the update. That type of communication vehicle attracts a broader audience- which can include consumer media – because it is an easy-to-understand snapshot of data.
And – as with any pitch – it may or may not work.
As I write this, maybe that’s a question to readers of this post – what ideas or tips do PR professionals use in their pitches to national business media – around HIMSS13, or in general?
Dodge: Are there any new developments PR pros should be aware of at this year’s Conference?
Lofstrom: I am trying to reach a paperless press room at the conference. With that in mind, PR pros should think about alternative ways, instead of paper, to distribute their information this year. That guideline isn’t new, but is one to keep in mind each year.
All of us planning HIMSS13 want to help PR pros out- to make sure they have what they need for the exhibitors they represent. So, be sure to ask questions to our team at HIMSS. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dodge: What is your biggest press room pet peeve?
Lofstrom:My biggest press room pet peeve is authenticity…people who say they are media but are not.