healthcare PR

Is it a good thing?

For many of the practitioners and clinics we work with opinion is divided as to whether publicity is a good thing.

On the one side there is the argument that medicine and healthcare should be done with a quiet, professional dignity in the way it’s been done for generations. That publicity is somewhat unseemly and best left to those brash US plastic surgeons we see in Beverley Hills.

On the flip side there is an acknowledgement that building a private practice requires, without being too blunt, customers, and to get customers you need to market – and by ‘market’ we mean get your message out there.

From my side, the marketing side, the response to this question is a resolute yes.  A practice like any other business needs a marketing strategy built up of many layers. This can be word-of-mouth (arguably the best method, but the hardest to kickstart), referrals and connections (AKA networking), advertising, promotion and… public relations.

So what does it take to get press coverage (and by press we’re talking newspapers and digital publications)?

Well, first you have to take a step back and consider who your average journalist is. First off, they’re busy. Very Busy. It wasn’t so long ago that most national newspapers would have an office in every major city and hundreds of journalists on the payroll. This has long ago been abandoned as advertising revenues have collapsed due to the internet and the preference for free content – otherwise known as ‘not paying for people to write stuff’.

So there are considerably fewer journalists about and, despite many closures, there are still lots of media outlets that continue to plug away.  Those journalists that are left are working long hours with huge workloads and nearly all have a blank page or column that needs finishing before tea time. Knowing this is key. What a journalist really wants is good story, pre-formed, preferably written up and, the icing on the cake, would be case study with a photograph. This story can be dropped into that blank page with minimal editing and it’s another job ticked off the list. For healthcare typically the type of story that hits the sweet spot will be:

  • Feel Good – something that was bad but has been made better; weight loss, better skin, more hair, flat tummy, etc
  • Pioneer – a new technique that nobody has done before which is newsworthy – and a case study to give it a human angle
  • Expert Comment – someone has had cement put in their buttocks, so to bring a news angle into this a comment from an experienced practitioner about how putting cement in your buttocks is bad rounds the story off and makes it more than fingerpointing at dumb people.

The benefits of publicity

Exposure: The more media exposure you get the more media exposure you’ll get. This isn’t a typo. Media begets media. If journos know you’re quick to respond with a solid comment or you’re pioneering and are good for a story they’ll come back to you time and time again. They’re busy, remember.

More Clients: If you are regularly in the media as the ‘go to guy’ for brow lifts, or new knees, or the acne guru then clients will seek you out. Everyone wants the best.

SEO: I hate mentioning this, because SEO is a dreary topic and shouldn’t necessarily be connected with the glory of publicity, but Google wants experts – it wants the best at what they do at the top of search ranks. This can be the best at making kitchen tables or fitting tyres – Google doesn’t care so long as you are the best in your area.  The more it sees you mentioned in the press the more it will rank your website.

The reason you keep seeing your rival in the paper or on websites or on the radio or on breakfast telly isn’t because they are lucky. It’s because they’ve embraced publicity. They’ve put themselves out there and are shouting their message.

We’ve been in the healthcare media sector for over 8 years now and along the way we’ve built up a great network of journalists who are always on the lookout for interesting healthcare developments, pioneering treatments or case studies. If you’ve got anything that you think could be interesting then drop us a line with the details and if the match is right we’ll help you make a connection.  Contact Gavin@BHMmedia.com for more info.

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