As the healthcare industry has evolved, so too have the methods physicians use to attract patients and impact their community. A half-century ago, hanging a shingle and having a solid work ethic was the secret to success. But today, physicians need to know how to position themselves in a population health management marketplace where strategic affiliations, the ability to differentiate and a value-driven (rather than volume-driven) philosophy create customers for life.
While there are many tools in a marketing toolbox, none is better suited for today’s physicians than public relations. That’s because public relations combine high credibility and a relatively low cost. Resources put into public relations are dollars well spent as public relations can help build your brand, raise your visibility, and position you and your practice in a favorable light.
Public relations programs involve strategy and tactics, science and art, and fundamentals and creativity. And just as physicians hone their craft through merging indispensable education with practical experience, so too the best public relations professionals find a way to successfully transition textbook theory into real-world know how. So, how can you leverage public relations for your practice? Here are five important strategies:
1. Tap into local media. Send out press releases on a variety of things, including: new physicians joining your practice, local community involvement, new services offered, or milestones reached. In addition, you could be writing a weekly or monthly health-tips column for your community newspaper and then “repurposing” these columns by posting them to your website or having reprints available in your lobby.
2. Reach out to the community. Find opportunities to speak on your area of expertise at appropriate community or business gatherings. Look for chances to speak at the worksites of local employers or employer-sponsored events and be proactive by inviting the media. That way, you and your message have the potential to reach more people than actually attend your presentation.
3. Be opportunistic. Look for opportunities to cleverly piggyback your messaging and activities with appropriate health observances, such as American Heart Month, or weeks that call attention to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc. The Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development publishes an annual guide listing all of these observances.
4. Be current and relevant. Develop an online marketing strategy that allows you to push messages directly to your patients or other members of the community in a timely and effective manner. Keep your website current and invite two-way communication through social media and allowing your patients (and others) to communicate with you through whichever medium they feel most comfortable. Today it’s all about “the patient experience” and that involves your interactions before, during and after their office visit.
5. Leverage hospital relationships. Let your affiliated hospital know that you are available as a source when the media calls, when they require a physician to quote in their employee or community newsletter, or when they need a physician to represent them at a community function.
It’s easy and simple to hire a public relations manager these days if you do not have time to commit to overseeing it yourself. It is an indispensable part of any business plan, and the physician who is able to leverage public relations is the one with the best practice.
Learn more online reputation management: http://www.physicianspractice.com/blog/five-public-relations-secrets-building-your-medical-practice