PR 101: How Physicians Can Earn Media Attention

Nothing can boost the visibility of your
practice more than to be interviewed for newspapers, and to appear on radio and TV.
Capturing the attention of the news-media requires earning a bit of trust
from newspaper editors, and reporters, and TV producers. In my practice, I’ve been
able to do this by writing a few emails to journalists, establishing myself as an
expert in certain areas of Medicine, and thereby, be worthy of an interview.
Getting started begins with looking for health-news stories that are currently
receiving media attention on the national level. Or you can find a local
angle to a story about a celebrity, or sports figure facing a highly publicized
medical condition for which you can provide treatment. Another tactic is to
discuss a new device or new technology for treating a common medical problem,
which the media finds newsworthy. Let me provide you with an example. I read an
article in Reader’s Digest about using pomegranate juice as a treatment for
prostate diseases, and even reducing the risk of prostate cancer. I send an email
to a local health and science reporter on the article. A producer in the same TV
newsroom responded, and we scheduled an interview in my office later in the week.
This gave me time to arrange a visual, and to purchase several bottles of
pomegranate juice for the interview. Another example was a discussion about
the no-scalpel, no-needle vasectomy. I use the same
approach as previously described, and have the instruments to show how it is
done. The kicker was that I showed the reporter how
to perform a vasectomy on a rubber band. Of course, the first program on
pomegranate juice did not directly result in anyone calling my office to
buy juice; however, thousands of TV viewers learned my name and specialty,
which can build what marketers call “brand awareness.” That is, some of those
viewers, no doubt, remembered my name later when they needed someone in my
specialty. Meanwhile, the second TV news story directly generated 35 calls, 12
appointments, and 10 vasectomies. Let me offer a few suggestions for developing
relationships with journalists that may pay big dividends. First, prior to any
press interview, provide a fact sheet for the interviewer with the bullet points
you would like to cover. Next, for television and radio interviews, let the
producer know what props or visuals you will have available. Finally, send the
interviewer a list of suggested questions that you are comfortable
answering. Remember, every reporter wants to look good through the experience of a
great interview. After the interview, I always send a thank-you note or email to
the interviewer. This frequently guarantees being asked back. Bottom-line?
becoming a media darling is a possibility available to most doctors.
Public visibility through the press is a wonderful way to showcase you and your
practice, which creates an increase in the number of new patients soon calling
your practice.

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