Leveraging Timely Media Opportunities for Health and Wellness Experts
By Lydia Rasmussen, Smith Publicity, Book Publicist
One day an unexpected expert commentary request came into my inbox from a top tier media outlet asking if I had an expert who could comment on “why some people eat oranges in the shower?” After digging into it a little further, I found that this request was inspired by a TikTok, and broader internet, trend. Working quickly to meet the deadline, I could see how this could be a good fit for a health and wellness expert but I expected some push back as it didn’t have a clear correlation to a psychologist’s, or even a medical doctor’s, expertise.
Opportunities come in the strangest forms, but it’s important for clients, marketers and publicists to keep an open mind when it comes to trends where people may be looking to their favorite media outlets for more authoritative answers from experts. This was a unique opportunity for a client to provide commentary to a top tier news site, so it was important to fully explain the nature of the request and give them all the information they needed to give an informed response that tied into their expert perspective on the topic.
Traditionally, publicists have to keep their ear to the ground when it comes to pitching timely angles, making sure they are aware of the kind of content people are searching for and that journalists are looking to cover. This can include setting up a Google alert to inform them of trending searches, monitoring rising hashtags, or following new articles from health and wellness media outlets to see what areas they are covering and sharing on social media. Publicists and clients should also have frequent conversations with each other about what they are seeing in the client’s relevant field so they can best position the subject to journalists. Clients should share the topics they feel comfortable speaking about so publicists can monitor source requests to see where their expertise aligns with an article a journalist is writing.
Expert commentary opportunities only require a short paragraph in response to each question but these ideas can often be expanded into an article. Trending topics are an opportunity for clients to provide an opinion piece to their publicist. Depending on the client’s background, they can also provide a personal essay around how their health was impacted by an event or how they struggled to overcome substance abuse, embrace body neutrality, etc. A publicist can also pitch roughly five article prompts to give journalists a choice on the angle that best suits their audience. Many times a publicist can re-purpose these article ideas into talking points, making them timely and easily accessible to a broadcast audience.
The more topical and actionable the talking points are, the more well suited they are for a broadcast opportunity. Experts typically need to deliver concise information in broadcast interviews as they will only have 2-4 minutes for the entire segment and the host needs to move quickly through questions. One client worked with me on the resurgence of “heroin chic,” a trend that originated in the 90’s and left many people seeking to be dangerously thin. This pitch resulted in booking multiple segments in top national broadcast markets. The producers who responded to this pitch chose quick, countable takeaways their audience could implement after watching the segment like “3 ways people perpetuate a harmful body image and how you can fight against it.” As a result of the client lending their expertise, they were able to share that they were publishing a book and raise awareness for themselves as a resource for people who want to improve their mindset and wellbeing.
Timely health topics are also very important for booking podcasts. Clients should be sure they stay focused on the subject of the podcast episode when they are talking to the host. As opposed to broadcast segments, podcast hosts are able to sit down and talk to an expert about their new book for an extended amount of time. They want the information to come across to the listener as conversational while still being informative. A host will often prompt the guest to talk about their new book or mention it when introducing them at the beginning of the episode. Guests can also organically mention their book in their response to a host’s question like “In chapter 3 of my new book, I discuss how friends and family can approach a loved one with a substance use disorder…” Podcasts are another good place for clients to speak to their personal experience with a health issue so listeners can see how they overcame it and consider how the expert’s book might help them do the same.
Regardless of a client’s area of expertise, it is important for them to consider how they can best serve the audience base for the media outlets where they would like to be covered. They can work with their publicist on pitching timely information that journalists are seeking. A good publicity partnership goes a long way in a campaign. As a client, make sure you keep open lines of communication with your publicist on timely and trending information. You will see the result of these efforts in your campaign and well after as traffic is driven to your website and people seek out your expertise.
Lydia Rasmussen holds an M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Endicott College. She began her publishing career with an internship at The Quarto Group publishing house in 2017 and has continued to work in marketing and publicity ever since. As a Book Publicist, she focuses heavily on health, wellness, cooking, and fiction titles, securing placements at media outlets such as Good Day Chicago, CNN Health, MindBodyGreen, Well+Good, Oprah Daily, and CNBC Make It, among others. She has worked with clients such as Mayo Clinic Press Kids, Clinical Psychologist Dr. Monica Vermani, Addiction Specialists, Dr. Peg O’Connor and Dr. Laura Petracek as well as Mindset and Wellness expert, Sonia Jhas. Lydia lives in New Hampshire with her cat, dog, and chickens. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, caring for her houseplants, and meeting with her J.R.R. Tolkien writing group.