The Future of Media Relations: 5 Benefits of Paid Integration

By Melissa Maycott, Media Relations Manager

Up until recently, the term “paid media” was, for all intents and purposes, a less fancier name for advertising. Frankly, for public relations professionals, it would have almost been taboo to even begin to suggest paying for content, seeing as by traditional standards we have always worked to differentiate ourselves from our marketing constituents.

But times they are a changin’ and thankfully, so is that outdated, bleak corporate mindset.  In an age where digital media is the fastest and most efficient way for consumers to digest their news, the concept of paid, owned and earned media has evolved — disrupting the traditional online marketing landscape. What were once separate notions of media can be integrated in new ways to better serve brands and consumers. As a result, savvy public relations specialists are taking the lead in re-evaluating the ability of paid media to serve as a vehicle to amplify the impact of earned and owned media rather than viewing each channel as a separate and totally disconnected effort.

Check out a few of these cool infographics and useful articles that break down the barriers to each channel and demonstrate how each tactic can intersect to ensure your messages are being delivered to the right audiences.

What exactly is a paid integration? There are several different types of paid integrations but to put it into simplest terms, it’s when a brand pays to place its message/content in front of an audience that someone else has assembled. In the PR world, this would likely include content-enriched paid placements such as customized editorial content (advertorials and blog posts), broadcast sponsorships, personalized online campaigns and webinars.

So, why paid integration and why now? Here are just a few of the benefits of integrating paid media placements into a brand’s overall PR strategy and how it can bolster consumer exposure.

  1. Paid media can be used to deliver a brand’s content to its targeted audience in case it is not seen through organic (earned) placements alone.
  1. If a company does its research and identifies where its audience consumes media, incorporating paid integration can help drive traffic to its owned media (company website, social media platforms, etc.)
  1. Choosing to place an ad on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter gains brand presence in high-traffic channels where consumers/buyers spend their time.
  1. No other type of media can guarantee the immediacy, scale and reach that paid media can deliver.
  1. Through the use of paid media integration, a company can have complete control of its brand message and content.

One fact will always remain, consumers don’t differentiate media. In order to make a brand relevant in today’s complex media landscape, PR specialists must actively engage with its target audience, and the overall impact on the consumer is that much stronger when a well-orchestrated, integrated media strategy is in place.

What You Need to Know About the Digital Health Revolution

By Jessica Ross, Senior Media Specialist

Digital health has begun to take center stage in many health conversations and conferences. South by Southwest just recently devoted three days of its mega-conference to it, and a recent report on the digital health revolution predicts connected devices and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions have the potential to save more than $300 billion in costs for the U.S. healthcare sector.

What are two of the biggest uses for digital health solutions on the horizon?

  1. Telehealth
  2. Remote patient monitoring

This shift in focus and conversation within the digital health revolution is being driven partly by a need for more consumer-oriented health solutions.

The healthcare sector has traditionally suffered three major pitfalls:

  1. A poor user experience for patients
  2. Inaccessible patient medical records
  3. Lack of meaningful patient-doctor relationships

A new report by information and analytics firm IHS echoes this digital health shift. The findings project there will be cumulative annual growth in market revenues and shipments of nearly 25 percent a year over the next five years resulting in an estimated 5.4 million video consultations between primary care providers and their patients by 2020.

So what does this mean for healthcare companies looking to stay up-to-date on industry trends?

It’s time for them to jump on board.  Most providers have yet to implement or successfully launch a digital health strategy. In fact, a survey conducted by digital health platform Validic found 59 percent of healthcare organizations are either behind schedule with their digital health strategy or have no digital health strategy currently in place.

For the companies deciding to dive into digital health, telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, there has been a major growth area for traditional healthcare providers. However, the disruptions and breakout growth stories are coming from non-traditional players such as Teladoc, a telehealth provider, which has seen its subscriber base jump by more than 100 percent last year and now has more than 8 million subscribers. Another digital health startup, Theranos, is completely disrupting the lab test market with its inexpensive direct-to-consumer lab tests that bypass physicians altogether.

With the abundance of startups offering various solutions, it is an exciting time for the evolution of the healthcare industry. Many consumers have the stereotype that the big healthcare companies are slow to implement changes that may improve patient satisfaction, but it’s time for healthcare providers and companies alike to embrace this trend. Not only does it look to improve patient experience, but you can’t argue with the savings. For any healthcare company wondering if digital health is worth it, there is one thing they should recognize – when the future comes knocking, you better let it in.

The Week That Was: 5 Healthcare Stories You Need to Know

By Christy Loringer, Account Supervisor

Falling behind on the latest healthcare marketing news? Don’t worry – Tonic has you covered! From a productivity increase in the pharmaceutical industry to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the first-ever 3D-printed drug, check out our round-up of last week’s “hot topics” in the industry.

  1. Productivity Increase in the Pharmaceutical Drug Industry

Reuters recently conducted an analysis that found drug industry productivity is growing, with the number of new pharmaceutical product launches hitting a 17-year high in 2014. The analysis also found that the industry has obtained a higher success rate in the costly final stages of clinical development, with the number of projects failing in Phase III falling over the last six years. Read the full analysis here.

  1. CVS Drops 31 Prescription Medicines from 2016 Formulary

CVS Health, operator of the nation’s second-largest pharmacy benefit manager, CVS Caremark, will drop an additional 31 drugs from insurance coverage in 2016, including several treatments for diabetes and multiple sclerosis. According to an article from The New York Times, pharmacy benefit managers have been challenging the rising cost of new medications and often decide to keep or exclude a product based on whether they can obtain favorable pricing.

  1. FDA to Launch New Open-Source Platform, PrecisionFDA

As part of the White House’s Precision Medicine Initiative, the FDA is working on a new platform – PrecisionFDA – that will supply an environment where the community can test, pilot and validate new approaches to ensure the accuracy of genetic tests in detecting and interpreting genetic variants. Read the announcement from the FDA here.

  1. FDA Approves First-Ever 3D-Printed Drug

On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever 3D-printed drug, Spritam (levetiracetam), a prescription epilepsy adjunct delivered orally. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals created the product in an effort to provide dosages specific to individual patients rather than following a one-size-fits-all approach. While there are already a number of treatments available for the condition, the unique method of development helps the product stand apart from the competition. To develop the medication, Aprecia uses its proprietary ZipDose Technology platform via a 3D printing system. To read more on this approval, check out the release issued by Aprecia.

  1. Pharma Companies Utilizing In-House Digital Marketing Teams

A study from the Society of Digital Agencies found that brand teams are breaking ties with ad agencies and bringing digital marketing in-house. Results from the study showed that 27 percent of marketers surveyed don’t work with outside agencies for digital marketing needs and more than one-fourth (28 percent) do the digital marketing in-house. Check out an analysis of the study from FiercePharmaMarketing here.

What other hot news would you add to this list? Leave a comment below!

The Power of the Free Trial

By Susan Pyle, Vice President

As I prepared my dinner from Blue Apron last night, it occurred to me that Blue Apron and many of the services that I have come to rely on as a city dweller – Uber, Instacart, FreshDirect, GrubHub – all came into my life through a free trial.

Clearly, the free trial, and its close relative the free sample, is a tried and true marketing technique that can help a business increase visibility, sales and reel in new customers. The power of the free trial comes from its ability to remove the barriers that often prevent us from trying new things, such as the cost, concerns about the quality of the product or uncertainty about the product’s value to our lives (i.e, do I really need this?). Free trials have become such a ubiquitous part of our consumer culture that some companies depend on it to keep new and existing customers coming back for more. COSTCO, for example, relies heavily on freebies as an essential part of its business model and the COSTCO customer experience.

Free trials provide instant exposure to a brand and can trigger an immediate purchase, but can the free trial be an effective public relations tool for building brand loyalty and ongoing customer engagement? Absolutely! The way I see it, there are three ways that a free trial can up the PR ante for a product or service:

  1. Reduce friction. At last month’s ExL Pharma Public Relations and Communications Summit, Google’s David Blair, Head of Industry for Health, said that Google aims to reduce the friction in people’s lives through digital innovation. I think the same holds true to for the free trial. If your product or service saves people time, money, frustration or otherwise makes their lives easier, a free trial will help you build customer loyalty immediately. Case in point – Uber. Before Uber came along, taxis were the accepted norm for transportation. We didn’t know we needed Uber until we had it… and the way most of us found it was through a free ride. Uber eliminated all the things we find frustrating about taxis – flagging them down, having cash, cranky drivers, hot, smelly cars – and we were hooked instantly.
  2. Continue the dialogue. People want to feel special, not forgotten. Once the free trial period is over, don’t forget to reengage them down the road. Ask customers to provide feedback and suggestions on your service. Periodically review your sales data and note which customers have stopped making purchases, and then reconnect with them through a new or exclusive offer.  Conversely, make it easy for the customer to opt out of communications or purchases, as well, and quell the potential for bad word of mouth when you part ways.
  3. Empower customers. There is no better endorsement than a personal endorsement. Companies that use the free trial effectively give existing customers the opportunity to share a free trial with those in their circle. This empowers and excites customers because they are able to give something to a friend or colleague for free, thus increasing positive word of mouth about the product.

To that end, a favorite service of mine has empowered me with the ability to give away three free samples. Interested? The first three people to email me at will win those free trials.