Do you handle hospital PR? How do you perceive your mission? Are you primarily a brand builder? Or are you the Praetorian Guard?

February 18, 2021

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinIf editorial and PR people fall into a passive-aggressive relationship, something’s wrong. Sometimes on both sides.

There’s no magic to how I find sources for most of the stories I write in this space. Sometimes I start by calling the advertising agency that was involved. Most ad agencies love publicity that showcases the good work they’ve done. Occasionally, when I can find the right person’s name, or when the ad agency will provide an introduction, I also place a direct call to the hospital marketing person who oversaw the project.

But more often I call the hospital PR people and ask them to help set up interviews.

Some years ago, I was having what started out to be an uncontroversial dinner with the editor of a leading financial trade publication. Somehow the conversation drifted around to his work covering financial institutions, and my monthly side hustle as a contributor to Strategic Health Care Marketing, and how each of us found the people we interview for stories. I mentioned my use of PR people.

“I never speak to PR people,” he huffed self-righteously. “They’re the enemy.”

I countered that most of the PR people I’ve dealt with are pretty helpful. Fortunately for my digestion, the topic changed after that. But there’s no denying he had touched on one of the many eternal conflicts that infest modern culture. For example, at universities, it’s town vs. gown. In heavy industry, it’s labor vs. management. In news, alas, it’s sometimes editorial vs. PR. Only in rare cases is it trade publication vs. hospital PR department. But there are cases.

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