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Deep Dive into a Healthcare Rapid Response Strategy

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Pitching a rapid response program to a client can take some due diligence. It’s a high-risk, high-reward media strategy that can pay off in spades when planned and executed correctly. So, what does a successful rapid response, or “reactive” program look like? For PAN’s healthcare client Alegeus, it recently meant securing its executives in not one but two CNBC articles on a trending healthcare topic impacting millions of consumers: Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs).

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Alegeus is the leading provider in consumer directed healthcare. Its team is passionate about arming Americans with information about healthcare benefits and finances for smart spending and saving. Garnering awareness of HSAs is a key pillar to its communication program due to their tax advantages and long-term savings benefits.

If you’ve been following this healthcare policy, you’ll know that HSAs were linked to legislation around the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) “repeal and replace” discussions. PAN worked with Alegeus to design and implement a reactive program around the news, developing positioning statements, POV talk tracks and qualified media targets. This put the PR team in position to offer reporters the opportunity to interview Alegeus experts about the broader implications of the regulation on consumers and their healthcare finances in response to repeated legislative developments coming out of Washington.

Reactive programs work best when you can anticipate the news. This can be difficult, especially when your program revolves around ever-changing legislation.

During one particular news cycle, I read that the AHCA would soon be heading to the Senate for debate. This marked the second news cycle around the bill for which we were reactively pitching Alegeus’ expertise, providing context around healthcare finance aspect of the legislation. This wasn’t our first rodeo, and we were dialed into the right media contacts to target. Not only were we ready, but we had also done the due diligence during previous news cycles to seed the market and build relationships with key journalists who would be following the news and most inclined to seek out Alegeus as their expert source. While these early exercises resulted in the company’s research to appear in CNN Money, we were still in search of the Holy Grail: that piece of coverage that was on message and news oriented around the AHCA.

After catching wind of the timing of the bill from The Wall Street Journal, I immediately floated a few notes out to my go-to contacts: journalists I knew would be covering the legislation and had a sweet spot for HSAs. CNBC Reporter Tom Anderson, who wanted to interview Alegeus for a story about the implications of the news on HSAs, was a clear first choice. We were on the verge of a successful reactive program for Alegeus.

After securing interest from Tom in speaking with an Alegeus spokesperson, they talked at length about HSAs and what the legislation would mean for consumer-directed healthcare – increased adoption, smarter spending, etc. The next day Tom published an article, with Alegeus’ commentary on the bill as the first quote in the piece. This a big win for Alegeus – pixels in a top-tier business outlet on a key pillar to the program. But it didn’t stop there.

Later that day, Tom reached back and requested a quote from his now go-to source about HSAs in relation to the legislation. PAN worked directly with Alegeus to develop commentary that was insightful and on message with our communication goals around HSA education. With a pre-approved quote in hand, we sent it off to Tom and it appeared in a separate article once the Senate approved the bill. This was the crème de la crème. Not only was quote on message, but Alegeus was the ONLY company cited in the piece, positioning the brand as the principal HSA educator in the crowded healthcare market.

Want to hear more about how reactive healthcare strategy can bring your media relations program to the next level? Check out a recent case study, this time on the MACRA legislation (yes, I drove that program as well!).


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