Imagine this scenario: You are a dermatologist or plastic surgeon in an uber-competitive market like Los Angeles or New York and are looking at a public relations firm to distinguish yourself among other physicians in your subspecialty. You have realized that PR is the perfect tool to stand out from competitors in this competitive industry, build your reputation through media coverage, and engage with potential patients. However, it’s essential to make sure you and your practice are primed to venture forward with a PR firm. Before investing, make sure you have all of the elements in place to take full advantage of the benefits of public relations and put your best image forward to the media and the patient community at large.
Ask yourself the following questions and see if you and your practice is ready for a medical PR firm:
Is your practice financially stable?
Do not engage a PR firm if you need to take out a loan to do so. The last thing you want to do is invest in PR when you don’t have the cash flow for it. While public relations is a much more cost-effective form of promotion than advertising or marketing, it takes time to build momentum, much like SEO. If your business is not in a place where it has the cash flow to invest in public relations, then it might not be the time for you yet.
Do not proceed with a “bargain” PR firm. They are low cost for a reason. Wait until you have the financial wherewithal to select the firm that best suits your needs. PR is not a get rich quick scheme but it does pay dividends when done over time. Do not go into PR cash strapped and expect the PR firm to be your savior. PR is meant for a financially stable practice that is looking to go to the next level across the board.
Can you talk about more than one aspect of your practice?
Achieving media coverage means being able to market yourself as an expert in your field. If you’re a plastic surgeon in New York City looking to attract new patients, you can’t solely be pitching breast augmentation. What makes your practice stand out from the rest? Is it your technique or perhaps new technology? Be willing to comment on a variety of consumer-friendly topics. Your PR firm cannot keep pitching one topic to the media month after month. The media wants a versatile expert who can answer all questions relating to his or her medical subspecialty. You need to be able to adapt to what the media has on their agenda- not yours. The more you provide the media with information for stories they want, you become a go-to source and you keep building up relationships with numerous outlets via your PR firm.
If you are a dermatologist and the media has questions on melanoma, hyaluronic acid in skincare, microneedling, adult acne, DIY skincare, post-pregnancy skincare, the best foods to eat for healthy skin, etc. you must be ready to participate in all of these stories and not have your own predetermined agenda. Media dictates the stories that will be published, not the publicists or the client.
Does your practice have a website?
Your practice must have a modern, mobile-friendly website before engaging a PR firm. If a potential patient sees you quoted in an article, goes to google you and can’t find your website, the PR coverage is virtually wasted. The ongoing marketing of your expertise is also dependent on you showcasing the media coverage you earned on this site. Without this, your placements (whether it be TV coverage, print, radio or online) will end up getting lost on the web. The site must have an up to date bio, clear headshot, easy to locate contact details, social media links, blog posts that are updated once a week, high resolution before and after shots of your work, a menu of your procedures, a press section, and stock images that are artful and not commercial looking.
In addition, one of the many benefits of public relations is that online media coverage creates helpful backlinks to your website that organically enhances your SEO over time. When potential patients google your name to “vet” you, it is reassuring to them to see you quoted in scores of high authority websites such as Newbeauty.com, Allure.com, Instyle.com, Huffpost.com. Bustle.com, Elitedaily.com, and others of this caliber.
Do you have time to participate with your PR firm and the media?
While KMR Communications has decades of medical knowledge, there are times when we need you, the client to “fill in the blanks” and give data or specific quotes to the media. Working with the press means quick turnarounds and being proactive. Are you able to comment on a topic with a tight deadline? You as the client should be prepared to respond and interact with your PR firm.
Media often impose tight deadlines on stories. Can you meet deadlines? Dedicate the time to do TV interviews that might mean leaving the office once a month? Make time for podcasts or radio interviews by phone? Do you have time to speak with your PR firm every 1-2 weeks to touch base on strategy and goals? While the PR firm should be responsible for much for the “heavy lifting,” it is impossible to achieve optimal results if the medical client is absent from the campaign.
Do you have a reliable office manager?
If the office is in the midst of staff transition or you don’t have a reliable office manager who can liaise with your PR firm and help to schedule media appearances, this will prove to be a hindrance. To succeed with PR, your “house must be clean.” This means that you have an internal staff functioning like a well-oiled machine so that you can do your job as a physician, and the PR firm can do theirs, with an appropriate in-office person acting as a go-between with your PR firm when you are with patients.
Are you willing to be open to various media opportunities?
You would assume that if a PR firm just landed the client an interview for a big publication, they would jump at the opportunity. However, sometimes a client won’t think twice about missing a journalist’s deadline or not respond at all. Not only does this hurt the relationship with the journalist and the PR firm, but it also costs you coverage.
Also, if an outlet asks to receive a service or a sample of your product (if applicable), be ready to get it done. “I worked with a client who had a golden opportunity to have a service reviewed, but they wanted to perform a different service —and weren’t willing to compromise. So, the editor moved on, and they lost the opportunity,” said Katherine Rothman, CEO, and founder of KMR Communications. “If you are truly committed to earning coverage, you must be willing to turn cartwheels to satisfy top tier journalists. There is always a competitor down the street who is more than willing to step in if you are not.”
If you answered yes to all of the above and are ready to jump on the PR train, start thinking about what you want in a firm. When PR is implemented by the right firm who specializes in medicine and have established solid connections with thousands of key media outlets for decades, this has proven game-changing for medical practices across many sub-specialties throughout the country.
At our medical pr agency, we have many years of experience in medical public relations and have secured excellent coverage for our clients