As a Dermatologist, partnering with a PR firm is unfamiliar territory. You’ve realized the value it brings to your practice and are looking to hire a firm that will reach as many potential patients as possible. But before retaining, you didn’t know the importance of your role in the partnership and how an agency does its job. Just like PR professionals don’t know how to inject fillers, a dermatologist doesn’t know how to navigate the world of PR. Even with the best intentions, perspectives can clash in a rush to see results, and soon enough, both parties are just trying to keep the relationship afloat. Make sure you’re optimizing your relationship with your PR firm and avoid making these common PR mistakes.
Don’t hire a PR firm that doesn’t specialize in medical PR.
Your relationship and trust in your PR firm are essential to the success of earning media coverage for your practice. Most importantly, you want the PR firm to be an extension of your practice. If the firm has no experience with dermatology or medicine, it would be like going to the pediatrician for a colonoscopy. Boutique firms that specialize in medical PR understand the business of medicine, what your competition is doing, the medical terminology, what stories the media is seeking, and most of all, have the connections with the editors and producers responsible for health and beauty stories. The last thing you should be doing is giving your PR firm a crash course in the sub-specialty of dermatology.
Do not ask or expect your PR firm to only promote one area of your practice, such as lasers or Botox.
A PR firm knows your practice wants results. Their job as PR professionals is to pitch you as an expert source in as many possible topics of interest to the media. Almost all dermatology practice offers laser and Botox. Do you want to be like every other dermatology practice? There is not a Botox or laser story written in the media every day. You need to be open to discussing everything from acne, fat-melting techniques, how to combat oily skin, the worst skincare mistakes women make, etc. The PR firm needs to present you and your practice as a one-stop source for all things related to skincare. If you limit yourself to only two or three topics, you will vastly reduce the consistency of your media coverage. Promoting all areas of your practice and expertise increases your credibility, trustworthiness, and reliability in your community. Remember, the patient who walks in your door because they saw you quoted in an article on cystic acne, can turn into next week’s Botox or filler patient. Statistics show earned media coverage has an effect on consumers choosing your service or product over your competitor’s. The point is- you got them to come in via media coverage.
Don’t engage a PR firm if you are not able to meet tight media deadlines and be proactive with your PR partner.
Meeting media deadlines are one of the most crucial aspects of the PR and media world. The news cycle is non-stop, so when your PR firm needs you to work with them for a prestigious outlet on a tight deadline, your timing matters. A great opportunity could draw significant attention to you and get your practice the exposure you desire. If you wait too long or miss the deadline, your article will get cut, resulting in losing the placement opportunity. If you give the media “good soundbites” and become a reliable source, they will keep returning to your PR firm seeking you out. Deciding to engage a PR firm does involve some involvement on your part and being proactive with your PR firm. The media does not wait for anyone- they will simply find another source!
Do not expect PR to be a winning lotto ticket- it is a marathon not a sprint
One of the most common mistakes after hiring a PR firm is expecting results right away, or too soon. You’ve been with the agency for a month, but you’re frustrated you haven’t seen ROI. The first 30 days of partnering consists of the firm getting to know you as a client, curating media lists, monitoring media searches, and contacting media personnel on your behalf. Magazines often work on upcoming issues months in advance, so you might not see the story you answered in July until December. If you don’t stay with your firm because you don’t see quick results, you may be losing out on some of the more prestigious placements.
The most prominent media outlets, such as The New York Times, tend to require the most effort and patience. That one strategic pitch that took weeks of communications between an editor and publicist could land you the more prominent placement with more visibility than two or three lower quality features. Your prospective patients will be able to distinguish the quality of your placements over the quantity. If you have certain dermatologists you aspire to be in terms of name recognition, remember these notables did not become “stars” overnight. Most of them have been in the “PR game” for years.
Do not hire a PR firm if you do not have a website.
In today’s world, consumers are more likely to trust the dermatologist quoted in an article or seen on a trusted TV news outlet than the one they saw in an ad. Being able to use the media coverage you’ve earned to market your practice will push you ahead of your competitors and gain clients. This becomes a “non-event” if your practice has no website to showcase any of your media coverage. One of the many reasons to hire PR, is so that when patients are perpetually seeing your name in “high authority” websites, this will cause them to google you and find you online, or online articles will hyperlink to your website. The more backlinks you have from top tier media coverage, this will organically enhance your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Without having that online presence, the media coverage gets lost in thin air. Also, a dermatologist without a website looks completely antiquated and lacking in transparency. So hire the best PR firm you can afford and you that PR coverage to market the heck out of your practice