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April 14, 2022

Cortney Wiiliams


Group Director, HealthTech

This originally appeared in OnePitch.

On this month’s profile, we are talking with Cortney Williams, a Practice Group Director at Alloy. She’s been working in PR/communications for over 10 years and has experience servicing B2B and B2C clients of all sizes and in almost every industry.

Today, she currently serves as Alloy’s HealthIT Practice Group Director, overseeing the management and strategy of her agency’s robust – and growing – healthcare technology client roster. While her role has shifted over the last couple of years, her true PR passion remains media relations, strategizing with her team and clients to land strategic placements that drive results.

Within this interview, we break down real examples of how she landed top-tier coverage, what worked, and her tips for replicating it for your own pitches. Read below for the entire interview with Cortney Williams:

1.) Tell us a bit about your current role, what a typical day looks like, and who your clients are.

Whether its medical devices, EHRs, or patient engagement software, my main responsibility as the HealthIT Practice Group Director is to ensure my team’s efforts are supporting clients’ business goals – so everything from brand awareness and visibility to overall sales pipeline growth. On a day to day basis, that could consist of anything from assisting my team in developing key account plans (tradeshow activations, product launch plans, etc.), to generating reports to showcase how our team’s earned media, social media and marketing results have effectively translated to drive success for the brands we represent. I love the ‘people’ aspect of my job, too, helping my team reach new heights and accomplish many of the goals they have set for themselves – both personally and professionally.

2.) What’s the best pitch of yours that resulted in coverage and what elements made it successful?

I love this question! There are a few that stand out, but what’s top of mind is a pitch from 2020 that was a result of a survey we conducted for a healthIT client all about patients and telehealth – what consumers like about telehealth if they wanted their healthcare provider to utilize telehealth moving forward, etc.

The pitch was no doubt timely, since it was during the height of the pandemic, but it was also educational and inspirational. At large, we really wanted to speak to the entire industry and say hey, we know telehealth has risen to the spotlight during the pandemic for obvious reasons – but it’s here to stay, so we must figure out the regulations and reimbursement landscape around this so providers can continue to bill (and get paid) for it moving forward. Plus, it’s not just healthcare providers that recognize the value and benefit of telehealth – patients do, too. We generated a mass amount of coverage on this survey, but a few of the top national publications to cover it were HuffPost and U.S. News & World Report.

3.) What makes a good subject line? Can you share an example of one that worked?

Short and sweet is always ideal, but I also like to ensure subject lines are interesting and can tell a reporter exactly what the pitch is about. Going back to the point above about one of my favorites pitches, here’s the subject line used to garner that tier-1 media coverage: ‘The Patient Has Spoken: Telehealth no longer a ‘nice to have’ — it’s a requirement to stay in business.’

4.) What information do you always make sure to include in your pitch?

Truly the 5 W’s – who, what, when, where, why. I always encourage my team to read a pitch out loud and think in the mind of a journalist. What follow-up questions may they have as a result of this email? Is it clear who we are offering for interviews, and what they can speak about? In today’s ever-changing news cycle, if any critical piece of information is missing from a pitch, I can honestly say I can’t blame a reporter for just deleting it and moving on.

5.) One of your campaigns for iCAD titled, “Nothing Artificial About It: Launching the World’s First AI Mammography Solution,” won the Holmes Report Sabre Award for MedTech Campaign of the Year. Can you tell us a bit about this campaign and what made it most successful?

This was truly an amazing campaign to get to work on, as breast cancer (unfortunately) affects all of us in one way or another. Essentially, our team was supporting the client in launching its artificial intelligence-based solution for digital breast tomosynthesis.

While the tool was one of the first and was without a doubt critical to cancer detection and prevention, the industry overall is oversaturated, which meant we had to be extremely creative in the way we told the launch story to successfully break through the clutter. With a strategic approach – from utilizing KOLs with diverse backgrounds and experiences, to targeting patients to better educate them on breast health – we were able to not only generate a healthy stream of media coverage, but also increase traffic to the client’s website and boost conversions, thus turning prospects into identifiable sales leads. And this is a perfect example of why I love working in healthcare technology – the work some of our clients are doing is truly life-changing!

6.) What’s your best tip for measuring PR? What’s the most valuable KPI to track in your opinion and why?

Share of Voice remains critical and is a core priority for many of our clients. But what’s truly unique about Alloy is that we execute integrated campaigns that blend traditional PR tactics with compelling content and contemporary digital marketing. We tend to think beyond an earned media hit, looking at things like: did a prospect see us in a headline and click through to the website, then complete a contact us form? Did a client see a social media post about a new product launch, thus read the full press release and ask for a product demo?

For us, it’s really about how everything is working together – from traditional PR to social media and email marketing – to make an overall impact on the bottom line.

7.) How do you utilize social media/marketing to amplify your PR results?

Social media is a core focus for us at Alloy, and we have a whole team of social rockstars whose sole responsibility is to help brands, executives and other subject matter experts tell compelling stories via their social platforms. To the point above, I think many brands underestimate the power of social media in not just driving greater brand awareness and visibility, but also in driving leads. I’d encourage any technology brands interested in learning more about how social media can be used to amplify PR to reach out, as I know our social team would love to have a strategic conversation around this!

8.) We read that you are a strong B2B health writer and storyteller. How has your strength in writing helped propel your career? What tips do you have for those trying to enhance their writing ability?

Interestingly, I initially started my college career with a focus in journalism, and later shifted to public relations/communications after a conversation with one of my advisors. That said, I’ve always loved writing – the creative aspect of it and getting to tell a story in a way that you believe may really resonate with someone. At Alloy, one of our Spirited Ideals (or Core Values, as other companies may call them) is Learning Never Ceases, and I truly believe that writing is something that can always be improved on. I’m a big fan of writing courses, and would also say that to be a great writer, you must consume a lot of news. Reading sparks new inspiration for me and I often learn unique approaches that I can leverage in my own writing by reading others’ work.

9.) What’s your #1 tactic for building relationships with journalists?

I really tackle this the same way I do in my personal life, and that’s just to get to them on a personal level – what do they enjoy doing outside of work, what’s their overall passion outside of the office, etc. I’m a people person at heart (which is probably not a surprise, given the career path I’ve chosen!), so building relationships with journalists is just another aspect of my job that I really love.

10.) What’s the best PR advice you’ve received or given to others?

Public relations is consistently ranked one of the most stressful jobs in America. And while at times I may feel that stress, I also truly believe that it doesn’t need to be this way. I’ve heard from several mentors the ol’ saying of “It’s PR not ER,” which is important to remember. If I’m ever having a really stressful day – or noticing that the team is feeling bogged down – I like to just take a step back and reflect on the important work we are doing. Going back to that cancer detection campaign from above, just remembering that our efforts have a true impact and can make a difference on people’s lives means everything. And that’s the core reason why I have chosen to specialize in healthcare technology public relations.