'People' places Children's Hospitals of Minnesota at neonatal forefront

Who is your client? What are its media goals?

Name: Liz Miklya, VP at Weber Shandwick, Minneapolis-St. Paul
Placement: People – May 18 issue
Pitch timeline: Almost three months

Who is your client? What are its media goals?

Liz Miklya: The client is Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Its goals are to position the hospital at a national level and as a leader in neonatal intensive care.

What made People a good target? Did all the recent attention to “Octomom” have any effect on your pitch?

Miklya: I realized I was pitching the story at the same time the Octomom drama was unfolding. However, I made no efforts to tie this pitch to that story. The newsworthy element of the pitch was a one-of-a-kind study that followed a group of former micro-preemies born from 1986 to 1989 at 23 to 26 weeks' gestation into young adulthood.

One neonatologist has followed 146 of the micro-preemies, tracking their progress through high school and into college. We knew the visuals would really drive this story and hit home the message more clearly than any words could ever deliver, which is why I approached People with a print exclusive versus The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.

There are many stories about people overcoming long odds. How did you make your pitch stand out?

Miklya: I think it was the powerful visuals of the healthy, vibrant students today holding photos of babies who weren't supposed to survive, especially back then. The story also countered the common misperception that babies born that early will either not survive, or if they do, they will have numerous physical and mental problems for the rest of their lives.

Did you media train any of the people featured?

Miklya: Yes, I did message and media training with the doctor and media-trained all of the [young adults].

What was the impact of the hit?

Miklya: After this placement, we had numerous hits in the local Twin Cities market. Inside Edition ran a feature on May 15. The great thing about a hit in People is that it has a longer coffee-table shelf life than those of most other national publications.

The client was ecstatic. The People hit served to further solidify Children's of Minnesota's national reputation as having a premier neonatology center with outstanding results.

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