“In a saturated marketplace, the answer to standing out is to promote. Although there are many ways dermatologists can market themselves, one of the most effective methods has proven to be public relations.”
According to IMS Health there are an estimated 9,600 dermatologists and 7,800 dermatology practices in The U.S.. 34% of industry establishments are solo practices, and 48% of industry practices include three or more physicians. An increasing number of med school students want to enter the field because elective medicine is so lucrative. What do all of these statistics mean for dermatologists? More competition! In a saturated marketplace of medical practice, the answer to standing out is to promote. Although there are many ways, dermatologists can market themselves either for patient acquisition or patient retention, one of the most effective methods in a marketing plan has proven to be public relations. Once you have made a choice to engage a public relations firm, how does a practice go about choosing an appropriate firm? Katherine Rothman is the CEO of KMR Communications, a medical and beauty PR firm established in 1998. The firm has likely represented more dermatologists and elective medicine physicians than any other PR firm or healthcare marketing agency in the country. Here, Ms. Rothman provides tips for dermatologists and aesthetic physicians on how to find the ideal PR firm.request a consultation
1) Look for a PR firm that specializes in medical-health PR.
This is crucial to usher in new patients. Just as one would not visit a dermatologist for a kidney issue, PR firms have specialties as well. A PR firm effective for a Vodka company or a tech product is not the same PR firm that should handle a dermatologist or dermatological drugs. The PR firm must be familiar with dermatological conditions or your sub-specialty, such as cosmetic dermatology, so that you don’t have to take your time explaining procedures and the technical aspects to them. Also, editors and bloggers have different “beats.” they cover. A dermatologist or a dermatology clinic needs the strategy of a PR firm that has solid connections within the beauty and health sectors of the media.
2) Look for a boutique PR firm
As an individual dermatologist or even a group practice in a dermatology clinic, you will not be able to afford the same PR fee as a Fortune 500 company.
You do not want to be the lowest paying client on a firm’s roster. While that may benefit your budget, it often means your account will be the proverbial “small fish in a big pond.” It will not draw in as many potential clients to your clinic as you’ve hoped for. It is likely that your practice will be handled by junior level staff, and that the CEO/upper management will have little vested interest in your long-term medical marketing success once the ink is dry on the contract. Go with a boutique firm where you can be sure that the CEO and senior staff will be the point people on your account.
3) Ask to See “Evidence” of a successful marketing strategy
We all know the saying, “talk is cheap.” Suppose you are doing an introductory call or an in-person meeting to vet a PR firm. In that case, you should certainly be able to gauge a firm’s knowledge of dermatology, strategic thinking in content marketing, and what their approach would be to your campaign and target audience. It would help if you also asked them to describe the success of a marketing strategy they have had for other dermatologists. However, most publicists are also good salespeople in the dermatology market. Even if you are impressed with what they say, you are entitled to, and should request the following: Examples of recent media coverage for other dermatology clients, case studies, a written proposal/outline based on the goals you have conveyed, and examples of weekly or monthly status reports they have provided to other dermatology clients. Once you are clear that you wish to proceed with a PR firm, ask for two references from dermatologists whom they have represented, or other medical practice physicians.
4) Beware of conflicts of interest
If a firm represents another dermatologist in New York City who is direct competition, or you are from a relatively small city, it is never a good idea to be the client of a firm representing a competitor. A key question to ask is, “do you represent any other dermatology practice that would be a geographical conflict of interest?’ Don’t be afraid to ask for an exclusivity clause to be added to your contract. An example of this is, “PR Firm XYZ agrees not to simultaneously engage another Houston dermatology practice for the duration of this agreement.”
5)Understand the monthly retainer fee, contractual obligation and scope of service
Most PR firms operate on a six-month contract and a flat fee payable monthly. Some firms provide strictly public relations services, while others may include social media, blog content, digital marketing, graphic design, and SEO as part of a marketing effort. Typically, the more “add- ons,” the higher the retainer fee will be in dermatology marketing. It is perfectly acceptable to start with a marketing campaign that focuses primarily on media coverage. One can always add in a la carte services when a more substantial budget is feasible. Also, understand what areas of the media will be pitched. Ask if your campaign will include all platforms of the media such as magazines, online, radio, and TV or is the firm only going to focus on your local market. This is a crucial question to ask!
6) Don’t ignore chemistry!
While the publicist/client relationship is a business relationship, it could be one that lasts for several years. It is essential to go with your gut and ask yourself: Does this firm seem honest, friendly, accessible, and reliable? If you sense any “attitude” or feeling that “they are doing you a favor by accepting you to their client roster” run in the other direction. As a dermatologist, you want and deserve a PR firm that will go the extra mile to make your PR campaign a success.
About KMR Communications: KMR Public Relations was established in 1998. Launched in New York City by CEO Katherine M. Rothman, the firm has been one of the pioneers in the fields of beauty, health, fitness, and PR for medical practices. KMR has likely represented more dermatologists and plastic surgeons than any other PR firm in the nation. KMR has been the recipient of numerous industry awards. We were named, “One of the top healthcare PR firms” by PR Week Magazine and “one of the top 3 beauty PR firms in the nation” by www.everything-pr.com.
The firm has over two decades of experience dedicated very niche driven PR. KMR has represented clients in every sector of beauty, health and fitness ranging from skin care companies, haircare, nail care, fragrance, salons, spas, fitness trainers, gyms, fitness apps, nutritionists, fitness devices, plastic surgeons, medi-spas, dermatologists, psychologists, ophthalmologists, internists, divisions of hospitals, gastroenterologists, chiropractors, cosmetic dentists, podiatrists, orthopedists, hair restoration, as well as beauty/health devices, and equipment.request a consultation