Media meets medicine is not something that happened with the arrival of reality television and shows such as Dr. 90210 and The Swan. The media has been reporting on developments in the aesthetic medicine field for more than 2 decades.
Innovative surgeons have always realized the “power of the press.” However, positioning yourself in the media is not an easy task. It can be time-consuming and costly if you don’t know what to do or who to hire.
First, you need to understand how the media works. Media courses can offer in-depth training on such topics as press release writing, finding news within your own practice, approaching the press with a newsworthy story, and proven follow-up techniques. Until you have the opportunity to take a media course, there are practical ways to kick off your very own media campaign right now:
Think news. Every patient who comes into your office is a potential news story. They each have a personal reason for wanting surgery. Oftentimes, they want to share their stories with others and are willing to be candidates for press interviews.
Keep up with trends. Each year, societies and academies publish results of surveys conducted among their members. Those surveys result in statistics that show the increase in trends and procedures.
The media love to see growth statistics, especially those that can be proven by such credible organizations. Whereas most national media outlets report these statistics, many local press outlets are never shown the results and may welcome the chance to interview you as the local resource.
Get more than CMEs at industry events. Though many of you attend meetings and events to learn new techniques and fulfill CME requirements, don’t overlook the gold mine of information in the exhibit hall. This is where all the new future possibilities lie, and things are discussed there before they are discussed from the podium.
Also, should you be in the market for a new piece of equipment, many of the larger technology firms offer promotional packages that you can use to obtain valuable media coverage in your area.
Be charitable. Charitable work or philanthropic contributions are of interest to the media. In these instances, aesthetic surgery is considered “surgery of the soul,” especially when it is reconstructive surgery. Such a media campaign promotes a positive community image.
Making a move? If you are planning a grand opening, invite the press. Many community newspapers have a “society” or “locals only” section. If you are opening your practice, get involved with the local Chamber of Commerce and have a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Obtain the press—literally speaking. If you have written a book, are involved with clinical research, or are conducting community speaking engagements, let the media know.
USE THE MEDIA TO BUILD YOUR PRACTICE
Hiring a professional dedicated to public relations, who can apply his or her experience dealing with the media, can be the best way to garner media exposure.
See also “Reshaping Media Perceptions” by Lesley Ranft in the November 2008 issue of PSP.
Don’t delegate this task to your office manager or receptionist. He or she may not have the necessary expertise in dealing with the media. This position carries full-time obligations and high expectations, and requires minute-by-minute responsibility and work-related creativity. Whether the person you choose is part of a PR agency or is part of your office staff, he or she should have a lineup of easily accessed media contacts.
A PR firm can provide you with credibility that advertising cannot buy. If you are quoted during a local newscast, the audience’s perception is that you must be an expert. Why else would a reporter be interviewing you? Not only does this kind of PR boost patient awareness and peer recognition, it affirms to the patients who have already booked surgery with you that they made the right choice of physicians.
Finally, understand that getting yourself in the spotlight does not always happen overnight. Public relations campaigns can take weeks, months, or even years to become successful, depending on your goal.
Angela O’Mara is president of The Professional Image, a medical specialty public relations and practice-development firm. She can be reached at .