I work in the marketing department of a technology vendor serving hospitals and other healthcare facilities. While I was hired for my social media expertise, I am also responsible for press releases – something completely new to me. Writing them is not a problem, as I have a journalism background. But getting customer participation and approval is an issue – and apparently always has been at my company.
When we sell our product into a new facility, we want to spread the word and do a press release about it. Ideally, the customer will provide a statement and put their stamp of approval on the release.
My company’s established process is to go through the person we sold the system to (the Chief Information Officer, for example), or the end-user we worked closely with (e.g. a Nurse Manager).
This often leads to weeks or months of unanswered emails or “I submitted to my superior/the PR department/some other stakeholder … but haven’t heard back.”
I’m wondering if we should *start* with the hospital’s PR department? Will they help us obtain a quote from the appropriate person and shepherd the approval process?
Also, if we choose to forgo the quote, do we really need the customer’s approval to do an announcement of sale press release?
Jay’s Answer: Based on previous experiences, has your company measurably benefited from press releases? Since it’s unlikely a new technology installation will likely produce something noteworthy (for a PR) in important information, consider instead creating case studies. Work with your clients to measure the short-, medium-, and long-term benefits of your products & services. You won’t need their quotes, just access to their data.
In the future, make it a part of the contract itself, so this issue is clearly noted early on – and resolved in their management structure.
No, you don’t need their permission to note the sale (unless they’ve stipulated it’s confidential). And if you can’t get an authorized quote, then provide one of your own, stated from your perspective (“Their system was having reliability problems, and now they will enjoy 99.99% uptime”).
However, this is not legal advice, and if you’re at all concerned that your clients may take offense at your press release, talk to your lawyer about what you can say legally w/o client approval.