Broad distribution of a press release via newswires and blast pitches can be the quickest route to getting lost in the clutter. But it can also be an appropriate and highly effective media relations tactic if it's part of a well-planned strategy for coverage. This summer, Carter Ryley Thomas was positioning VHA Inc., a cooperative of community-based healthcare providers, as a nationwide resource on nursing issues. VHA had conducted a study on nurse-physician relationships that revealed some shocking statistics about verbal, mental and physical abuse inflicted on nurses by physicians. The research had clear implications in the ongoing debate surrounding nurse recruiting and retention. Carter Ryley Thomas realized that the study could be VHA's ticket to widespread awareness. The agency also realized the news didn't have local angles, so it was likely that top daily newspapers would be the first to cover the story, which would then trickle down to community outlets. To gain the widest coverage of the study, Carter Ryley Thomas posted the release on PR Newswire and distributed it to tiered lists of media. Each source on the lists was then contacted by phone and offered a PDF of the study and an interview with Alan Rosenstein, the doctor behind the study. Pitches positioned Rosenstein and other VHA execs as courageous leaders in the healthcare community willing to uncover some very controversial issues. The agency's instincts were right on target. Major print media including U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Morning News and The Chicago Tribune jumped on the story. Wire services like UPI, Scripps Howard, Reuters and Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Service picked it up, too, and HealthScout and Yahoo! ran the story online. "Our client was the sole guest interview for a 20-minute call-in talk show on WNYC radio," one of the largest NPR affiliates, says Veronica Hunt, senior associate with the agency. Healthcare and trade publications also covered the story, and major outlets like USA Today are still calling for interviews and copies of the study, Hunt says. (Hunt, 310/659-5380, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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