Wellpartner Success Story

Wellpartner, a Portland, Oregon mail order drug company and pharmacy administrator, asked me to help them raise their visibility as a vendor to hospitals participating in the 340B federal discount drug program. Created at the Department of Health and Human Services in 1992, 340B gave hospitals new options for increasing their revenue by working with pharmacy networks.
"The Ozarks case study was a unique success in that it has already generated more than a dozen inquiries from hospital pharmacy directors who read the story in P&T Journal."
Nelson Pratt, Marketing Director, Wellpartner, Inc.

Wellpartner is one of the companies which establishes those networks. The HHS made an administrative change to the program in March 2010 which gave hospitals new flexibility in using the kinds of drug store networks Wellpartner had been establishing as a participant in an HHS pilot program. Wellpartner contracted with me for two stories because I had covered the 340B program. They specified two stories that they hoped would both lead to sales leads and a higher profile in the hospital community. The first story was about Ozarks Medical, a rural hospital in southern Missouri, and how it was using Wellpartner and the 340B changes from March 2010 to overcome reductions in state Medicaid funding and other financial blows. You can see that I hardly mention Wellpartner in the story; it is all about Ozarks Medical Center.

That is what Sonja Sherritze, editor of P&T, a magazine read by hospital pharmacists and executives, liked about the story. It was a timely, news-oriented story that hit a key concern of her readers. Moreover, it was a high-quality, magazine-ready piece she did not have to spend time on, much less pay for. P&T is one of the many magazines I write for, and Sonja is one of the hundreds of editors I have dealt with over the years. She also liked the fact that the story had my byline, playing off my credibility with her readers. Wellpartner was fine with that. That story carries a clear disclosure that Wellpartner paid for the story.

Now Wellpartner is marketing the heck out of this P&T story, which cost them, soup-to-nuts, less than half of what a two-page black and white ad would have cost (and probably pennies on the dollar of what a PR agency would have charged). And the story has a lot more credibility--given its focus on Wellpartner's client, Ozarks--than any ad, black-and-white, color or otherwise, would have.

What I do is come into your company, look for news angles that can be turned into marketing thrusts based on what is going on in your industry at a federal level, and then research, report, write and polish that story, and hopefully place it. You approve the story before I place it; and you also identify the media you want me to place it in. I assist with that latter task. I have a two-part fee: one for writing the story, a second for placing it. Whether I place the story or not, you own it and can put it on your website, or give it to your sales staff for their use with potential clients. It is yours to do with what you'd like.

Shaping Your Story for Maximum Placement

For me, after 30 years of sniffing, I can smell a good story as easily as I can a barbecuing steak from a block away.

My nose has made me a good living for 30-plus years. Writing monthly columns for business magazines left me to unearth hidden nuggets in the dry-as-dirt Federal Register, to take a prominent example, and excavate, polish and turn a technically-written (nearly incomprehensible) bone into a provocative piece of news for a magazine client, whose readers couldn't find that story anywhere else, much less in a rival publication. That is what I can do for you. What that means is that I paste back my ears and dig into your products, services and whatever other corporate scents you wave in front of my nose and I find "your story, " one that would be deemed newsworthy by a trade publication, newspaper, website which is read by an audience you want to reach.

Whether you already have a topic in mind, or you want my advice on what might be your most "salable" stories, I come into your company, dig into your operations and help you refine "your stories." Then I turn them into feature articles which, after you approve, I market to magazines you also approve of in advance.

Here, frankly, is the key part of the process: the finished story is not about you; it is about your clients. It is through your clients, communities, employees or whoever is your target audience that I tell your story. You pre-select clients for me to interview and clear my path.

Lastly, I find a "news angle" amidst my interviews and research with both your people and your clients. This is important if I am to place your story; the topic has to be newsworthy or else an editor will turn up his or her nose. Not only must your story be newsworthy, it should also resonate with what is going on in your industry. Throughout this process, I use the judgment, reporting, researching, writing, editing and media intelligence skills I have developed over 30 years.