Have you been taking advantage of the free advertising—or public relations—opportunities available to you, which can help you promote your practice?

If not, you are missing out on one of the best marketing strategies around. Not to worry. With a few pointers, you can get the name of your medical spa practice on the tip of your target market’s tongue.

This could be the competitive edge you need to win the lion’s share of the market and move your practice to the next level.

Public relations (PR) is a part of the marketing process that puts your name and information about what you do in front of the media—and it does not require payment.

Instead, you actually earn coverage from a newspaper, television station, or other media outlet. PR works by highlighting something special that promotes goodwill.

As a contributing member of your community, you offer something special. Whether you are holding free seminars, fund-raisers for a local or national charity, or some other activity, you should be sending press releases and contacting the local print and broadcast media to announce your upcoming events.

If you are attending a conference and you learn something new and interesting in the industry, you should be established as the expert in your field to ensure that your community is made aware.

In addition to alerting the public, you are building name recognition along with the accompanying trust.

As PR is considered a public service, your news or public interest item also lends a certain legitimacy that standard (or traditional) advertising does not provide.

In addition to your paid marketing efforts—such as ads, mailers, and radio spots—PR-oriented educational articles and broadcasts can put your business in local, national, and trade publications.

As an expert in the field, you may be quoted “for the record” and your services can be highlighted. You can introduce new prospects to the latest procedures, as well as create an image of your practice as the place to get it.

Along with the benefits of having your name linked to positive community-based and/or national efforts and events, you have the opportunity to tell the media about your expertise.

This is an area where you can really help your business shine. Your unique brand image can become recognizable while showing others how your services and products anticipate, meet, and exceed the expectations of your target market.

Don’t be afraid to tell the media about what makes your practice exceptional.

WINNING MEDIA ATTENTION

Your business is part of a community, so it follows that your special event is a newsworthy event—but only if you take the time to make it so.

It has to be an event that draws an audience. And face it, you may have to do some work for the media to get your PR placed.

Start with the following tips:

  • Understand your target market and how they get information, so that you know whom to contact. Are they more likely to get news from newspapers, e-mail, radio, or television?
  • Pique the media’s interest by providing announcements, invitations, and press releases. Be sure the announcements are professionally written, either by yourself or someone else with the proper skills. Also, dedicate a staff member to keep your public relations on track.
  • Use industry buzzwords to capture their attention.
  • Obtain a list of local and national media e-mail addresses, as this is the preferred method of delivery. Call to confirm receipt after you send your e-mail. Remember to give a 3-week lead to the media for placement of your press release or announcement.
  • Remain focused on the event and who it benefits, but be sure to highlight your expertise when warranted.
  • Hire a PR organization or write your own releases, and use an established professional online news distributor, such as PR Newswire, PR Web, or Mass Media Distribution.
  • Invite the media to your events or to your practice to sample a new service or product. You may choose to do a “media night” to introduce your services and products to local newspapers and television stations.

For the best response, send your press release (with buzzwords) 3 weeks prior to the event and an invitation 1 week later.

Finally, the week of the event, make phone calls to the specific people who you want to attend.

You may wish to send him or her a gift basket that, along with the invitation and RSVP, includes a sampling of your products.

Be certain to publish your press releases and event announcements on your practice’s Web site.

Your target market for local media should be around a 30-mile radius of your practice. For example, your local cable TV channel may be looking for someone in your industry to appear on the air as an expert.

Talking Points

To take advantage of the available free public relations (PR) opportunities, you have to do some work for the media to get your PR placed.

  • Understand your target market, how it gets its information, and whom to contact.
  • Send the media announcements, invitations, and press releases.
  • Be sure the announcements are professionally written.
  • Dedicate a staff member to keep your public relations on track.
  • Use industry buzzwords to capture the media’s attention.
  • Most media outlets need at least a 3-week lead time for placement of your press release or announcement.
  • Highlight your expertise when warranted.
  • You may choose to put on a “media night” to introduce your services and products to local newspapers and television stations.
  • Be certain to publish your press releases and event announcements on your practice’s Web site.
  • Your target market for local media should be around a 30-mile radius of your practice.
  • Take the time to seriously evaluate—or reevaluate—your marketing efforts and set new goals.

If you believe you have news of national appeal, expand your reach by contacting sources such as trade journals, online news distributors, and nationally published papers, such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

CREATE PUBLICITY

Knowing how to reach your target market and get noticed by the media puts you that much closer to winning free publicity via the local media outlets.

The following list covers some of the ways you can successfully generate publicity:

  • Awards or industry recognition;
  • Contests and promotions;
  • Expansions of your practice;
  • Grand openings and open houses;
  • Local charity events, fund-raisers, or community service events;
  • New-hires and promotions;
  • New products and services (including procedures, products, and patient financing deals);
  • Results of interesting or controversial customer surveys;
  • Special events; and,
  • Speaking engagements.

Responsibility is key. Be careful to avoid any whiff of “spin” in your PR. That means don’t slant your PR so it is self-serving.

Not only are watchdog groups, such as the Center for Media and Democracy, on the lookout for spin but also so are the media markets you are approaching.

Keep your events focused on the benefit to the community or the specific organization you are supporting with your event.

Now that you have planned your event and provided compelling, readable information to the media, what can you expect?

Depending on the event and its (perceived) importance to the community, you may be interviewed for news articles or local newscasts.

You may be approached by radio or television talk shows. You may be asked by local—or even national—groups to schedule speaking events, podcasts, Webinars, or any number of publicity-generating events.

Take the time to seriously evaluate—or reevaluate—your marketing efforts and set new goals.

Determine how PR can fit into your efforts, and start planning your next event. Then, alert the media and use your PR to be more visible.


Cheryl Whitman is a published author and popular speaker, and has been a beauty-industry consultant for more than 30 years. She is also founder and CEO of Beautiful Forever, a medical spa consultant firm. She can be reached at plasticsurgery@allied360.com.