It’s hard to believe that HIMSS is next week. In addition to meetings with new business prospects and partners, networking, and reunions with friends and former colleagues, you can maximize your HIMSS experience by arranging media and analyst interviews during the show. HIMSS is a golden opportunity to meet one-on-one with these key industry influencers and differentiate your company from the competition. You can also leverage these meetings to identify and secure opportunities to be included in print or online articles, blog posts and industry reports.
These industry movers and shakers are incredibly powerful: One positive mention and your sales leads could skyrocket. One negative comment and the opposite can occur. Don’t panic. The following media training “cheat sheet” can help you achieve your goals and generate positive coverage:
- Do your Homework. One of my most embarrassing HIMSS moments was when a client told an analyst that he “really liked his magazine.” The client obviously hadn’t taken the time to read our prep book! Before a meeting, research the background of the editor or analyst and become familiar with his/her areas of expertise and interest. Always customize your answers to address their audiences’ needs and pain points.
- Remember your Manners. Nothing is more annoying than being interrupted. Listen to the entire question being asked and tailor your responses. Address the questions within the context of the target audience(s) and avoid dominating the conversation with a product or service pitch. Sometimes it will be appropriate to share your knowledge, vision and thoughts on the industry rather than focus on your company.
- Body Language. Be confident, enthusiastic and friendly. Smile, lean forward and make direct eye contact. Don’t cross your arms or fidget. Remember, how you deliver your message can be as important as the message itself.
- Get to the Point. Prepare an “elevator” pitch – a two to three sentence description of your company that is easy to understand. In other words, how would you describe your company and its products and services to your mother or the person sitting next to you on an airplane? Make sure it includes the key points you want editors or analysts to remember.
- Avoid Jargon. Explain your product or service in layman’s terms. It’s your responsibility to make the pitch simple, clear and memorable.
- Power of Three. Focus on three main talking points and weave them into the conversation whenever possible. Often a reporter/analyst will ask if there is anything else that you would like to add at the end of an interview. Use this opportunity to restate your three core messages.
- Tie to Hot Topics. Demonstrate that you are a thought leader and can address hot topics such as meaningful use, ACOs, and where the industry is heading — not just talk about your product or company. Share the bigger vision.
- Zen of Interviewing. When asked a difficult question, maintain eye contact, control your gestures and breathe. Listen to the question and request clarification if necessary. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and then respond. If you don’t know, don’t make it up. Offer to get back to the reporter/analyst with the appropriate information.
- Tell a Story. People remember stories. Talk about client successes and lessons learned that highlight how your products deliver real-world value. If possible, include relevant ROI data in your storytelling.
- Build Relationships. Be yourself, be genuine and have fun. Let editors and analysts know that you can address multiple topics and to feel free to call on you for commentary or to discuss industry trends. Offer your clients as sources for future articles. Remember, these editors and analysts can have an incredible impact on your company’s reputation and marketplace visibility. Take the time to establish and strengthen these important relationships. Your investors, board members and employees will be glad that you did.