At PSP, we write a lot about how practitioners of aesthetic medicine can and should tap into the power of the media to inform people about procedures and treatments, and to promote their businesses.
As a beacon shining a light on ways to work with the people in the media, how to craft your practice’s message coherently to an eager public, and do so efficiently but with a sense of showmanship, PSP‘s writers and editors are obligated to let you know when wholesale paradigm shifts occur in the media field.
Who or what do you think of when you think of The Media?
Traditional thinking pegs the media as including the so-called mainstream media, which is also called “the corporate media” and consists of a handful of multinational corporations not exclusively in the media business. Other forms include the various channels of marketing propaganda that fill the airwaves, and (in the West) the virtually unregulated Internet.
We have grown up being told that “the media is the message,” to paraphrase the 1960s social commentator Marshall McLuhan. Information exchange was thought of as a one-way street—a singular editorial voice broadcasting to a passive audience, in the way many newspapers, TV shows, and radios have broadcast information and entertainment.
That view of the media is quickly growing obsolete because that Information Superhighway is becoming a two-way (and multiple-way) street—sure, you can still receive the “single-voice broadcasts,” but all manner of media is being replaced with multiple views and voices. The well-connected viewer/reader not only listens to the media stream, he or she directly interacts with it.
For example, the man of the street can become a TV star overnight via YouTube; your smartphone can broadcast video of ongoing news events as they unfold; examine the phenomenon of viewer feedback in the form of comment fields and online review sites, and news outlets asking viewers to respond to current events via texting; etc.
These phenomena are just the tip of the iceberg. The media is expanding to accommodate anyone who is connected to the matrix of two-way TVs, smartphones, social media, and an online world that feeds into all manner of media outlets right up to and including the Nightly News.
WHAT, ME WORRY?
Does this mean you can utilize the media machine to become a star on YouTube? Well, yes. In fact, you can read all about how to do that in PSP. It also means that the more you put yourself and your practice out there in the media stream, the more likely it is you’ll be scrutinized by it. It is the multiple-headed new media that actually talks back at you. It is not something to fear but something for which you should prepare.
In a world in which anyone with a net-connected device can potentially become a TV star, you must be even more careful about the exact message you are broadcasting. You must personally oversee your every media, marketing, PR, and otherwise public-facing move.
If you think you aren’t all that vulnerable, find one of your colleagues who has had to deal with the awful experience of deleting negative online reviews. Ask them about the inadequacy of online review sites and how those sites deal with patient reviews that are bogus, filled with inaccuracies, or both.
Going forward, not only must you keep an eye on the usual “watchers”—the medical boards, medical societies, certification groups, and so on, all the way to the federal geniuses running the FDA and FTC—but also the watchers of the watcher. These are voices of approval and dissent directed at plastic surgery, mostly coming from the media, which means coming from every possible direction.
So, who uses the new media to make trouble for aesthetic practitioners? They are the opinion makers, gadflies, news anchors, patients with axes to grind, exwives, official government watchdogs, consumer groups, competing medical societies, stalkers, etc. Then there are the people who don’t believe in plastic surgery, don’t like it, want it marginalized. It is a noisy bunch, too.
What can you do? First, don’t fight it. Work with the new media to make it work for you. It will be challenging to accommodate change, as it always is, so stay tuned to these pages to learn what’s coming your way and how to successfully deal with it.