March 31st, 2020

Avoiding jargon and using memorable key messages to increase media mentions

Media wants to report on diagnostics technology, however using simple terminology is key.


We used our media monitoring software, Meltwater, to analyse the recent print or online news articles which mention ‘intensive care, ‘general practice’, ‘pathology’. We chose to look at the keyword ‘pathology’ because it has been more frequently reported on in the context of articles explaining diagnosis of COVID-19. So, has ‘pathology’ really caught up with the more commonly used keywords ‘intensive care’ and ‘general practice’?

The below graph represents the share of voice. It shows which topics have the biggest share of mentions in the ‘media pie’.

  • Intensive care’ was the most successful keyword (in 75% of total coverage). Unsurprising, as one of the biggest concerns in the time of COVID-19 is the lack of space available in intensive care units.
  • However, ‘pathology’ was only in 6% of the total coverage we looked into. We expected more, given that pathology has been in the media more frequently since the COVID-19 outbreak. But it is overshadowed by articles covering intensive care issues.

Let’s compare the share of voice for these three keywords this time last year, in 2019. In this donut, ‘pathology’ features in fewer news stories more frequently than now. It secured 11% of the share of voice. It is interesting to note that ‘general practice’ outperformed ‘intensive care’. Probably because intensive care was not on everyone’s minds at the time.

Our thoughts…


Having worked with journalists and reporters for a number of years, we know that it is important to keep the vocabulary simple to communicate with the public better. The news story needs to be clear to layperson, so sometimes the healthcare and diagnostics terminology is simplified. We therefore analysed the keyword ‘testing’ as it could replace ‘pathology’ in some articles. Indeed, ‘testing’ is the hot topic of the moment, with 65% of all print and online articles mentioning this keyword.


Some great examples of using simple terms and catchy key phrases to captivate the reader’s attention:


  • The Cepheid “45-minute COVID-19 test”, which was reported on far and wide in mainstream media. “45-minute test” is memorable and invites the reader to look at the article. It gives the journalist an immediate and exciting headline to work with, which health news stories sometimes lack.
  • More recently, Abbott’s COVID-19 portable testing platform which has just been approved by the FDA was referred to as being “the size of a toaster”. Making health news stories as visual as possible is essential, otherwise they can be quite dry. Measuring size, speed, quality of results using simple reference points (eg. a toaster) is a good way to inject some wow-factor into your story.

When writing news stories to showcase your brand, product, or your role in the battle against COVID-19, think of catchy one-liners or phrases that will captivate the reporter’s attention when the pitch lands in their inbox. It is essential to ensure the cut-through your story deserves.

In a time where people are talking about testing more than ever, what can you do to bring attention to this vital sector of healthcare?

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