By Claudio Gormaz and Steve Cox
A fundamental truth about business, including the medical profession (and especially when speaking medical clinics), is the fact that it’s a never-ending competition to excel and succeed.
With that in mind, be on the constant lookout for opportunities to draw the lime light of publicity to yourself; and by extension, your practice. What if you could create that opportunity on a much larger stage than you imagined? What if you could have access to vast numbers of potential patients?
It’s a noisy world out there, and your voice must resonate above the clamor. Your message needs to stand out, both in content and value; and, just as important, your brand needs to be elevated.
Before we go much further, let us take a quick sidebar. You must understand that you are your brand; and, your brand is you.
Therefore, every procedure you perform carries your signature and all that that implies. Principally, this means that you must of vigilant over your quality control; it must be beyond superior and must be downright untouchable.
Since you are your brand, everything about you needs to scream that there’s no point in looking any further — you are the best option available anywhere! Your website needs to be interesting, relevant, and compelling. Feature focused messages on your site, blog posts, newsletters, and so on. You need to spotlight video recorded (unique to particular procedures) testimonials of highly satisfied patients on the landing page of your site and in your lobby.
Maybe you never considered this fact, every day that you open for business; your competitors are actively and aggressively trying to confiscate your patients through their advertising campaigns, mailers, flyers, and coupons. If you look like, sound like, and present yourself like every other plastic surgeon in your county, there is no reason for a patient to choose you over all others; for that matter, nothing is keeping your competitors from taking your patients.
So, the $64,000 question is: What are you doing to keep that from happening? What are you doing that your competitors aren’t?
To raise your brand, you must be seen as an expert in your field. A profoundly effective method for achieving that status is by building relationships with local, regional, and national media sources.
Through these relationships, you can develop your mass-media footprint (as you begin to be featured in magazines, cable programs, and news outlets, for example).
Find News Stories and Make Them Better
The point of building a symbiotic relationship with the media is to share your knowledge on a large stage. Moreover, you can use your expertise to educate a greater swath of the public than just your immediate patient base. Your medical expertise can add context and perspective to the media’s health conversations.
Realize that you represent a benefit to the media source. Whether a magazine, radio program, or television program, they are all in a daily battle to provide the best information to their audiences as possible. By delivering your expertise, you become an ally to that media source to help them do their job better.
The most successful doctors develop ways to inject their ideas and perceptions into monthly and weekly journals, even in breaking news stories in real time to generate media coverage for themselves by tapping into public discourse.
The strategy of targeting great stories is not a new phenomenon; it’s called content curation. The concept consists of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. In fact, there have been many articles and books written on this particular subject; the most famous of which was written by David Meerman Scott called “Newsjacking: how to inject your ideas into a breaking news story and generate tons of media coverage.”
However, here is the game-changer; technology has created a level playing field. According to Mr Scott, literally anyone can “News Jack”; but it still favors players who are observant, quick to react, and skilled at communicating. It’s a powerful tool that can be used to leverage your professional experiences and enhance the quality of the news being presented.
Content curation is indeed powerful, but only when executed in real time. For maximum effectiveness, the strategy takes advantage of the changes that may pop up only for a fleeting moment. In that instant, if you are shrewd enough to add a new dimension to the story as it’s unfolding, the news media will write about you.
It is only because of the emergence of the real-time web that content curation has become possible in a methodical, systematic fashion.
According to Scott, “We live in a 24/7/365 world, in a second–by–second news environment, where the most prosperous and savvy operators realize there are new ways to generate media attention.”
A Nimble Strategy
The rules have changed; the traditional public relations (PR) model of sticking close to the script and campaign timelines no longer work the way they used to. Public discourse now moves so fast and dynamically that all it takes is a single afternoon to blast the wheels off someone’s laboriously crafted narrative.
To be the most efficient, launch your message ahead of your competition and attract the attention of highly engaged audiences by taking advantage of breaking news. And you do that by generating attention and growing business in real time.
Our always-on, web-driven world has new rules for growing the business. Advanced planning is out, and agile is in!
The objective is to get in the second and subsequent paragraphs of stories in print. If you are clever enough to react to breaking news quickly, providing credible second-paragraph content in a blog post, tweet, or media alert that features the “word/topic of the moment,” you may be rewarded with a bonanza of media attention.
As Scott says, your job is to spot an angle and get it online as fast as you can. You need to be astute and quick.
Your goal is to create a synergistic relationship that benefits both the media and you alike. Top publications, regional and community television and radio, and national publications are always looking for experts to quote when big stories break. Your goal is to create and establish relationships with them, so they turn to you when they have an immediate need.
For example: Say your local news channel is developing a story on the dangers of beginning summer activities after a sedentary winter. As the anchor begins describing the potential health concerns of trying to look your best for bikini and wedding season, they turn to you for expert testimony from a local plastic surgeon. The topic deals with the possible injuries or damage that might be sustained from procedures “on the quick,” or the “3 day summer deal” featuring a weekend in Mexico and rhinoplasty, and preventative measures people should take to protect their health.
It Starts with a Plan
Jennifer Ashton, MD, and Rahul Jandial, MD, PhD, are both noted experts who regularly appear on ABC World News Tonight and KTLA news discussing health-related topics. You may also know Drew Pinsky, MD, and Sanjay Gupta, MD, who are frequent guests in newsrooms and now have their own shows. These doctors demonstrate just how far expert status can take you.
The takeaway is that these things don’t just happen randomly; you must form bonds that let the media know that you are an available, competent, informative, reliable and interesting resource.
You can find media opportunities on two levels: First, your immediate sphere of business activities (such as local associations, business affiliations, and industry publications) and local or personal interests. Second, start building relationships in the wider scope of regional, national, and local news sources.
Stay Plugged In
Develop news-monitoring strategies that keep you instantly informed on the local and national level. Monitor media and journalists you may already know, including the influential blogs and trade publications that cover your marketplace.
There are many ways to keep your eyes on available media opportunities. You can do regular Google searches for specific topics and who is addressing them. Or, you can set up Google alerts for particular subjects. Another option is to sign up for sites like Summo.com to look for genre articles and who’s writing them. LinkedIn is another resource for developing relationships with writers, publishers, and editors.
Develop a list of search terms relevant your practice and interests. Search for industry terms, competitors, prospects, and products, plus any buzzwords or phrases—everything you can think of is fair game.
Make it a priority to follow bloggers, analysts, journalists, and others who cover your brand of healthcare. Identify as many voices and relevant trade journals as you can.
Reap the Rewards
If your written voice develops a reputation for informed, insightful, authoritative, articulate, quotable, and timely commentary on key issues in healthcare, journalists will learn to seek you out for your perspective.
Maybe you won’t be the next Dr. Oz, but if you’re interested in networking, promoting your practice, educating the public, engaging with your patients (and those at large), contributing to medical conversations, developing your brand, and separating yourself from the competition, seek out the media.
Business partners, Claudio Gormaz and Steve Cox, are medical marketing strategists. They have worked with the medical community for over 2 decades. Many prominent practices in the country have benefited from their promotional strategies, developed fruitful and predictable advertising messages, as well as creating solid branding platforms while elevating their resident expert status. They are also highly accomplished business storytellers converting the complex into memorable narratives. They can be contacted via 530-492-9971, StevenVonLoren Marketing Strategists, or their personal emails: [email protected] and [email protected].