The Importance of Humanizing Your Clients

A number of years ago, we represented the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), which has provided patients with in-home nurses for 125 years. The services provided by VNSNY are essential, and they help many patients and their families, but to many people, the health care industry is dry and incredibly serious. So, how do we promote such an organization to the press in a way that is fun and interesting, while still highlighting the importance of the service it provides?

Finding the Story

We found our answer in Sandra Fleming, the VNSNY nurse who zipped from client to client on her red and black motorcycle. She was looking for a new hobby and she needed a faster way to get to her clients, so she decided to buy a Yamaha FZ6. Riding became one of her greatest passions, and it proved effective on her daily treks across Brooklyn to help her patients.

Donning a red motorcycle jacket, helmet and Harley-Davidson boots, Sandra looked like a proper biker, but when the armor came off, no one could tell — not even her clients. Her first-rate professional persona and her identity as an avid motorcyclist were unrecognizable, but she was determined to help her patients, and thanks to her bike, she could do it in a flash.

Getting the Story Told

When our clients at VNSNY told us Sandra’s story, we knew we could generate press coverage because it added a human angle. It was something unique and exciting that lightened the somber world of health care without taking priority away from what mattered most: helping the patients. In fact, it enhanced it.

Sandra’s story was warm, heartfelt and fun. In pitching it, we started at the top with The New York Times, and got them to publish a feature on Fleming and her passion for her patents and her motorcycle. Additional TV, print and digital coverage followed. It was a boom.

New York Times Coverage

In any business interaction, no matter what industry you’re in, the best outcomes are those where every party is satisfied, and in this case, each party was. The Times got a solid story, Sandra got a moment in the spotlight, we satisfied our client and our client was over the moon with the Times piece. More accurately, our clients were humanized.

The human angle behind Sandra’s story is what made it so valuable. It showed people that VNSNY was more than the standard organization in the medical industry and it shined a light on real people working for the company and how they made a difference. It is important that people understand our client is more than just a company, an event, a celebrity or an organization. They have a story to tell if people just listen.

About the author 

KEITH SHERMAN enjoys a communications career that began in the theatre and grew to include film, television, media, music, lifestyles, sports and international brands through his company, Keith Sherman & Associates Public Relations, which was founded in 1989.  

Keith has represented more than 300 Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring productions, was the public relations executive of the Tony Awards for 18 years and for a decade did PR work for The New York Times. Since 1988 he has represented Olympic Gold Medalist Brian Boitano and for a decade worked for Marsh & McLennan. In addition, Keith operates the modern art gallery, Helicline Fine Art. Keith is the New York City affiliate of PRConsultants Group. 

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