Have you ever wondered why certain doctors and health sub-specialists of a healthcare company continue to pop up time and again on the TV, over the radio, in the news, or on social media?
If so, your first inclination may be to chalk it up to some combination of accomplishments and good fortune. While those may be contributing factors, they’re probably not the sole reason for their name recognition and brand awareness. Not when every field of medicine is teeming with accomplished medical specialists and healthcare professionals.
No. What’s far more likely is that their meteoric rise and continued guest appearances were mostly due to a successful PR campaign—a joint operation led by a team of fast-acting publicists working tirelessly behind the scenes to drive media exposure.
But that could be you.
By hiring the right PR firm—a team specialized in health care marketing and media relations—you could be the one appearing on “Good Morning America” or in the pages of Elle.com
Today, we’re pulling back the curtain to reveal the inner workings of public relations in the healthcare industry.
What is the Role of Public Relations in Healthcare?
At its essence, public relations and healthcare is all about telling a story. Your story.
Whatever medical field you’re in—be it plastic surgery, dermatology, psychology, internal medicine, dermatology, orthopedic medicine —PR firms can help promote a product, service, healthcare facility, or individual.
To do this, a premier healthcare public relations firm will tailor a team to your marketing needs and goals. Once assembled, their mission is to build your name recognition and online presence through wide media coverage. PR teams drive this exposure via multiple channels, including:
- Print – Magazines and newspapers
- Radio – National and Local Interviews
- Website and Blogs
- Social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube
- TV appearances
- Digital – Press releases, wire services, and backlinks from high authority websites
Every one of these mediums frequently requires a guest expert’s participation, particularly when the topic of the day revolves around healthcare, such as a medical breakthrough or a new technique in the field. Media outlets need a medical expert who can translate medical jargon into palatable language that both they and their audience can grasp and then discuss.
Specialized Healthcare PR Firms
If you had something wrong with your eyes, would you go to a general practitioner for surgery?
Of course not. You would see an ophthalmologist. The same principle applies to the realm of public relations and the healthcare industry. A PR agency that’s specialized in the medical field knows the ins and outs of the industry, has solid contacts with health and medical media, and understands medical terminology.
This provides myriad benefits, including:
- They intuitively understand what it is you do and what sells to your target audience or healthcare clients
- They employ best practices, always keeping HIPAA and FDA laws in mind
- They know who the major players are in each niche of medicine
- They can creatively leverage press releases based on what’s happening in the world and your sub-specialty
- They have established relationships with key media figures
This focused industry-insight gives them a significant competitive advantage over a general PR firm.
The difference between the two is 20/20 vision.
The Importance of Public Relations in Healthcare
Your skill sets and expertise matter deeply to patients. But in this digital age, your laurels alone won’t drive them through your doors. It doesn’t put your practice on the map, especially if you operate in a competitive, oversaturated market.
What you need is positive news coverage. That’s what impresses prospective patients and healthcare clients.
Think of a medical PR team or a PR professional like an ace up your sleeve—a ringer, able to work on your behalf to cleverly craft a narrative, spin consumer-oriented press releases, manage a healthcare PR campaign, and foster media relationships.
They have spent years building a social media presence and establishing friendly relations with the influencers in the media. And, an experienced firm knows what strings to pull to make your message resonate while accomplishing four essential tasks:
Educating – Explaining to the consumer, in compelling and understandable terms, about vital health topics and sharing what your practice is doing about it.
- Building trust – Utilizing media channels to speak about important issues that matter to people. This demonstrates thought leadership and helps create a community that turns to you, especially when it’s on subjects related to your sub-specialty.
- Creating awareness – Starting a conversation—whether it’s about a new industry study, a success story from your practice, or a health topic that’s concerning the public.
- Keeping people informed – Providing people with the information they need to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilled lives.
PR and Advertising Aren’t Synonymous
PR is a modern complement to traditional advertising and marketing strategies. But they’re not the same, so they shouldn’t be confused as such.
A PR team can use digital media and editorial coverage to shine a spotlight on healthcare workers and doctors. By commenting on safety issues, trends, techniques, or controversies in a way that’s related to your sub-specialty, you can:
- Build your authority in the eyes of the public
- Establish media awareness
- Manage your online reputation
- Draw new views to your website
- Maintain your established patient base
At its essence, PR in healthcare is about taking information the consumer wants to know and then presenting it in a relatable way—one that’s tied to your specialty, such as dermatology. Over time, this reinforces the idea that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re someone worth seeking for medical advice or treatment.
In a time when social media and pop culture reign supreme, an appearance on a beloved morning talk show might pay much greater dividends than any commercial or advertisement. This is partly because the general public has caught on to many of the tried and true advertising techniques developed over the years.
They’ve become numb to it all.
PR, on the other hand, is a natural channel for potential patients or customers to learn your name and find out what you do without being overtly sold something. It’s a credible third party non-biased endorsement.
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You Don’t Have to Be an Innovator in Your Field to Be an Ideal Candidate
Healthcare professionals and providers commonly believe that they wouldn’t make the ideal candidate for a PR campaign. They might think that their practice is too small, or that they don’t matter because they operate outside of a metropolitan area.
But that’s not the case.
If you practice in a suburban community, you may derive even more value from a healthcare PR campaign, since so many of your competitors likely believe this misconception. Thus, there’s a significant opportunity to take advantage of an underutilized channel.
Don’t worry about what you have or haven’t accomplished in your field. Leave that to your medical PR team. They’re the ones who have to find a way to tie in your expertise to the appropriate news story, trend, season, holiday, or controversy.
Not a Trained Public Speaker? No Problem
It’s helpful to be an orator, but it is by no means a prerequisite to be a great guest. Personality is a much larger driving factor in opening doors and then booking repeat appearances. What producers and editors look for in a model candidate is simple:
- A person can boil down complex topics into solid sound bites
- An expert who responds appropriately to questions and crisis communication
- An individual that doesn’t have an overtly self-serving agenda
- Someone who the audience will find informed, qualified, and affable
Even if you’re inexperienced, your PR team can provide coaching and guidance on the proper etiquette when interacting with the media.
KMR—Healthcare PR Specialists
Public relations is an effective medium you can leverage to build your image and scale your medical practice. But finding the perfect fit can be a bit like online dating—so many profiles, so many promises; how do you cut through the noise to find a partner you can trust?
Enter KMR Communications.
We’re a boutique public relations firm that specializes in the fields of health, lifestyle, beauty, and fitness. With more than 25 years of experience, we’ve helped pioneer the field of medical public relations and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. When you partner with us, you get the KMR difference. This includes:
- An accessible, hands-on CEO
- Established relationships with prominent media figures, editors, and producers
- Connections with trade shows, SEO professionals, celebrity “seeders,” web-developers, and other business development avenues
- A boutique firm that limits our client roster so that you receive more face time and work product
We eschew the gimmicks and the stunts. Instead, we work with you to craft a holistic and impactful PR campaign that will benefit your practice.
Want to find out more? These case studies showcase what’s possible with KMR as a partner for your healthcare organization.