5 ways media coverage can benefit your practice

June 1, 2017

Social media is a great way to drive engagement from patients and word-of-mouth referrals. The same is true of the more conventional sources of media-local news, etc. The more you showcase your practice and skillset to your surrounding community, the more exposure your practice receives and the potential for new patients rises. This also helps to build you up as an expert in a specific area of eye care. 

The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

Social media is a great way to drive engagement from patients and word-of-mouth referrals. The same is true of the more conventional sources of media-local news, etc. The more you showcase your practice and skillset to your surrounding community, the more exposure your practice receives and the potential for new patients rises. This also helps to build you up as an expert in a specific area of eye care. 

Previously from Dr. O'Dell: Earth Day gives ODs a chance to promote green patient habits

Let’s look at how you can showcase your practice and its niche without a big marketing budget.

Up next: Increasing media exposure

 

Increasing media exposure

A news station asking for your opinion offers third-party validation of your expertise. Advertising can be perceived as you tooting your own horn, but when you are on the news as an expert it is more powerful from a marketing perspective. Video clips from media coverage of your practice makes ideal content for your website and social media feeds.

Reach out to journalists and offer yourself as an expert on any eyecare-related stories they are working on. Personally, I have been able to gain exposure for my dry eye center focusing on the new epidemic of digital eyestrain in our youth.

Pitch a specific story idea about your practice or a new service or product you are offering. Don’t be overly self-promotional-you want to make sure your pitch is newsworthy. The Dry Eye Center of PA was recently featured discussing cosmetics and dry eye with great response from the viewers.

Related: The power of the celebrity spokesperson

 

Contact media when you can help with timely stories such as Fourth of July eye injuries, allergy season, or perhaps a high-profile sports figure who has an eye injury-offer to comment on it.

One great way to connect to your local news affiliate is the use of social media. Using Facebook and Twitter to interact with the local station is a great way to introduce yourself. Personally, Twitter has been great for direct messaging and has led to a few opportunities for local appearances. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, now is the time to start one.

Up next: Making the most of media interviews

 

Making the most of media interviews

Try to get a sense from the reporter what types of questions she will want to ask. This allows you to prepare your answers ahead of time. A two-to-three minute clip will fly by, and you want your thoughts organized in order to make the main points.

Here are some tips for the interview:

• Pull together basic talking points of what you want to cover to help organize your thoughts. Don’t memorize or over rehearse, just focus on a few key points.  You want to keep your interview candid and relaxed.

• Practice by doing a mock interview of anticipated questions with a friend or family member. 

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• Focus on speaking in brief, succinct sound bites. People who are interviewed on TV tend to get off topic and use run-on sentences. Brief examples to illustrate your point are great, but long, drawn-out stories are a no-no. 

• Bring props-high-resolution photos of a condition you are speaking about, a model of the eye to demonstrate anatomy, or products you are retailing for certain ocular conditions. Many viewers are visual learners and props make your time more visually interesting. 

Up next: Look your best on camera

 

Look your best on camera

Be sure to smile even if you are being interviewed over the phone for a print publication or radio. Smiling helps project confidence and approachability in your voice-which is important. This can be hard and feel forced, but a smile will change your demeanor and make you more relaxed.

Related: Could there be a dress code for ODs?

• It is OK to say, “I don’t know” to a question. Offer to get back to the reporter in writing if you want to be thoughtful about your answer or need to verify the accuracy of facts. “I don’t know” is a better answer than an inaccurate one. 

• Be sure to dress appropriately. Conservative dress is best; no wild patterns or bright colors. 

• Although you have a short amount of time to get your points across, be sure to speak slowly in order for the viewers to hear you easily

Up next: Organic appearances

 

Organic appearances

Organic appearances are news segments that are unpaid by you or your practice. The morning and evening local news stations are often searching for current content to fill its health segments-reaching out with topics is your first step.

These opportunities are great because they generate patients, phone calls to your practice, website and Facebook traffic, and provide a high-quality video that can be used at no cost to continue to promote your practice. Generating video of this quality yourself could cost a lot of money.

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Featured stories are my personal favorite because they provide the opportunity to build viewers. The news will play a teaser of the featured segment for a few days prior to your air date. This allows you to promote the segment to your patients as many are proud to call you their doctor. Patients may want to show their family and friends the segment. Featured stories are also great tools because they are taped prior to the air date. They are typically recorded in your clinic, providing another level of marketing exposure to your community.

The downside of the free opportunities is how the practice’s name and contact information is displayed during the news story. For most of these segments, the doctor's name and practice name will be listed in print at the bottom of the screen. However, your contact information will be verbally given to viewers in the form of a website or phone number. 

Up next: Paid appearances

 

Paid appearances

Paid appearances can come in the form of acting as the source of a news story. In my area, the local ABC affiliate has a lunchtime news program with paid appearances. This has been a great, low-budget way to promote new technology.

Related: How to use technology to improve patient care

One difference is the manner in which your practice name and contact is displayed. Because this is paid advertisement, you have more say in the topic, questions, etc. Your practice name, website, and contact information will be displayed during the segment as well.

Read more from Dr. O'Dell here