PR Week

Fertility coverage discovers some new life
PR Week
Media Roundup
May 31, 2007

Despite the stern warnings we receive in youth, many people find that conceiving a child isn’t that quick, easy, or inevitable.

“All of us learn in high school how not to get pregnant, but when trying to get pregnant, many are pretty clueless,” says Beth Weinhouse, editor-in-chief of Conceive, a women’s lifestyle print title focused on conception and fertility.

Because of traditional taboos, fertility hasn’t gotten consistent coverage in the past, but it’s changing.

“It used to be more word of mouth, but not as much recently,” notes Julia Beck, founder of content and consulting firm Forty Weeks. “Because more women are waiting to become mothers, fertility is becoming a hot market.”

In recent months, top-tier outlets ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to Marie Claire and NBC’s Today have all done fertility-themed stories or segments. Bill Berry of New York-based Berry & Company PR says that’s because though these stories can be medically complex, they also have many of the things reporters seek: human drama and – surprisingly – great art.

“You’re talking about someone’s family, and the science is visually interesting because the images of sperm being injected into the egg or the embryo being created are compelling,” says Berry, whose clients include The American Fertility Association.

“[There's] always something to talk about, whether it’s a new procedure or the birth of septuplets, that will cause the media to look at how fertility treatments work.”

When pitching fertility stories, there are some seasonal opportunities, most notably Mother’s Day. Radiant Media Group principal Jeff Salzgeber, who represents Extend Fertility, a company providing egg-freezing science for women, also stresses the importance of reporter education.

“We provide a lot of Q&A documents on how egg freezing works,” he adds. “Because we partner with fertility clinics in major US markets, we can pitch the Extend story locally, as well as nationally.”

Outlets such as Conceive have a regular column aimed at men, but fertility remains primarily a women-centric topic.

“Many men’s outlets don’t want to address it, even though in about 40% of cases it’s a male-related [issue] that’s causing a couple to be infertile,” says Berry.

It’s unlikely fertility will explode as a media category in the future, but Weinhouse notes the audience interest should be fairly steady, adding, “You figure all these women that are reading Pregnancy or Parenting now were trying to get pregnant at some point.”

PITCHING… conception issues

Whether it’s stars, such as Desperate Housewives‘ Marcia Cross going public with the use of in vitro fertilization, or reports of a woman giving birth to septuplets, look to leverage breaking news to pitch fertility trends as second-day stories

It helps to have a couple grappling with conception issues to humanize a fertility-themed story

Women interested in fertility coverage can run the gamut, both in terms of age and in the understanding of the medical issues, so don’t make it too complex or specific