Generating positive healthcare PR coverage for your practice is an extremely effective tool when it comes to raising your profile in a credible way and engaging new patients. Yet surprisingly, relatively few practices engage in PR – and far fewer do it well.
Having represented a large number of private clinics – from cosmetic surgeries and dental practices to fertility clinics and individual doctors – here, we’ve pulled together some of our top healthcare PR tips aimed at helping you get your practice noticed.
Whether you are a doctor, dentist, surgeon or marketing professional we hope these tips are useful.
TIP 1: UNDERSTAND WHAT MAKES YOUR PRACTICE UNIQUE
In order for your clinic to stand out in a crowded market it is vital to know and to understand your brand’s unique selling points (USP). Defining your USP will not only help you engage with journalists, influencers and other high-profile individuals – but more importantly it will allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and engage your target market.
An important step to understanding your USP is getting to know your target audience, understanding what they are looking for in a service. This information can then be used to highlight why your brand should be their preferred choice.
An example of this would be The PHA Group client Elleven Dental who found that many patients were tired of the endless appointments required for seemingly straight-forward procedures. Elleven established one of their USPs by launching their ‘Smile In a Day’ treatment that fits veneers on site.
Not only was this a strong selling point, but it also made a great story which we were able to place in premium lifestyle magazines such a Tatler directly engaging their target audience.
TIP 2: UTILISE YOUR EXPERTISE – GIVE YOUR CLINIC A PERSONALITY
Alongside a strong USP, what will set your clinic apart from your competitors is, well, you…
Giving your brand, business or – in this case – clinic a personality will not only raise awareness about what you do but, crucially, will help you build trust with your audience.
Note: Not everyone is comfortable being a media personality and another approach would be to identify a number of key spokespeople throughout your organisation.
There are a number of ways you can get your name out there – from writing thought leadership pieces for newspapers and magazines, hosting networking events, to putting yourself forward as a media spokesperson (you can read more about these tactics below).
An example of a successful profile-raising campaign is our work with Professor Mark Whiteley, Founder of The Whiteley Clinic. We were tasked with promoting Professor Whiteley as the UK’s leading venous surgeon by placing his expert commentary across print, consumer and broadcast media.
To do this, we regularly identified commentary opportunities for Professor Whiteley on trending topics e.g. ‘what is pelvic congestion syndrome: the common condition most women have never heard of’ – or by capitalising on key calendar moments i.e. ‘ways to boost your circulation on the coldest day of the year’.
Through this activity we have been able to position Professor Whiteley successfully as the go-to expert across the media spectrum with regular commentary featuring in the Daily Express, Daily Mail, Vogue, and BBC Radio London. Take a look at The Whiteley Clinic’s case study to find out more about our work to date.
TIP 3: MONITOR & RESPOND TO THE NEWS AGENDA
Monitoring the news agenda is an important tactic for healthcare clinics. If you spot a story that is relevant to your practice or industry then the chances are you will be a strong media commentator.
How will this benefit you? Well simply if you are regularly appearing on well-respected news channels such as Sky or the BBC you can generate huge exposure and reinforce your reputation as a leading expert. It will also position the clinic as current, topical and on track of the latest trends and developments within the industry.
Moreover, social media means appearing on news channels can have a far wider impact on your business having all sorts of positive SEO benefits.
By way of example, as soon as it was revealed that Wayne Rooney underwent a hair transplant procedure, we pitched a key surgeon at The Private Clinic to the national newspapers and broadcasters to give expert commentary on Wayne’s treatment. Although Wayne did not have the procedure at The Private Clinic, their surgeon was the most quoted professional across the media in relation to this story. The Private Clinic was referenced in a number of articles including The Times, The Daily Mail and The Guardian, which resulted in an increased of enquires into hair transplant treatment at the clinic.
Note: Journalists are usually very keen to include expert commentary in their news features. The sooner you can offer up comment from one of your experts and the more information you can give the better. Responding quickly and effectively will help develop a relationship with the press which will be beneficial for future opportunities.
TIP 4: THE POWER OF CELEBRITY
Celebrity endorsement can have a huge impact on the success of your practice. While some may look down on the cult of celebrity, the fact remains; they can generate huge exposure for your brand through both media and social media coverage.
Having a celebrity photographed coming out of your clinic or tweeting about a treatment can be the best form of advertising and in many cases much more cost effective. But how can you engage a celeb?
The best way to get a celebrity to try your treatment is to speak to their agent and offer the service complimentary in return for a promotional activity – for example this could be anything from an Instagram story or quote to a series of media interviews (big tick).
It is important, however, that you carefully pick the celebrities you want to approach and will appeal most to your target consumer. Equally, some media outlets prefer to feature celebrities more than others – for example, tabloid outlets like the Mail Online and The Sun are always hungry for fresh celebrity stories, whereas broadsheets like The Guardian and The Times are far more particular about the individuals they feature – so it’s always worth keeping this in mind before engaging a celebrity for PR.
TIP 5: ENGAGE WITH VALUABLE INFLUENCERS
Influencers form a large portion of the social media-sphere, and the number of individuals working as influencers full-time has grown rapidly over the past five years. Popular influencers are now deemed to be equally powerful in selling treatments or products as some celebrities and press. It is really important that you treat influencers in the same vein as press, and engage with them regularly about your clinic’s services and new treatments.
The best way to engage target influencers in your clinic is to offer a treatment or service complimentary in return for a review on their social media platforms – in turn, this will drive their followers to your clinic.
Similarly to celebrity engagement for PR, it is vital to consider whether an influencer’s ‘brand’ aligns with your own. For example, if you specialise in treatments aimed at women over 50, if an influencer in their twenty’s posts about your business –even if they have a substantial following – you won’t achieve maximum impact.
TIP 6: LET YOUR PATIENTS SHOUT ABOUT YOUR WORK
Personal testimony and recommendation are a vital part of reputation building for many clinics and, as a result of this, case study placement is often seen as a key part of a clinic’s overall healthcare PR strategy to get patients through the door.
It is extremely important to remember when dealing with a case study that the process needs to be handled sensitively. Depending on your clinic’s area of expertise, the subject matter you are dealing with can be very personal to each patient and therefore, you need to carefully manage to ensure that the case study is completely comfortable with the media opportunities they are being put forward for.
We worked with a case study who had been able to finally achieve her dream of becoming a mother, at the age of 50, after undergoing IVF and egg donation with IVI Fertility.
Due to the very sensitive nature of this subject, we had to work closely with the case study over a number of weeks, building up trust and understanding, before she was comfortable enough to be put forward for relevant media opportunities. We also had to work carefully to ensure our case study was fully briefed on what each opportunity would involve, as well as working with relevant journalists to secure copy approval / read backs to ensure the case study was happy with the way in which their story had been told.
The results included an exclusive feature in The Independent, alongside several other high profile online pieces and regional coverage.
TIP 7: MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR WEBSITE
Adding a blog section to your practice’s website is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to establishing yourself as an industry leader on top of current trends and topics, as well as helping drive customers to the site.
Appoint one or two chief bloggers to regularly post articles on new treatments or trends within the industry. By including valuable, expert opinion in your blog posts, it will help give visitors insight into the professionals behind the brand and establish the practice as a ‘go to’ source for helpful and informative information. Blogs can also spark comments and questions from website visitors, allowing clinics to build a report with potential customers.
Effective blogging can also help clinics get discovered via social media. Ever post that gets published it is imperative that this is then shared across social media networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) helping to expose your business to a much bigger audience.
TIP 8: AWARDS AND GUIDES
Being shortlisted or winning an industry award e.g. The Dentistry Awards, or earning a spot in the coveted Tatler Good Surgery Guide is not only is a fantastic accolade allowing your practice to shine against its competitors, but it also offers a great opportunity to promote your brand.
It is therefore important to regularly monitor your sector and the media for any prestigious awards.
TIP 9: GET INVOLVED IN CHARITY WORK
Taking part in charity work or corporate social responsibility not only allows healthcare clinics to help others but provides a fantastic media talking point for both the practise and the initiative you are supporting.
Consider your clinics expertise and look into charities or initiatives that it could help and support. This partnership can then be promoted across both national and trade titles as well as social media channels.
By way of example, Elleven Dental raised money for the charity Smile Train, an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to the solving cleft lip and palate. Elleven did this through a variety of initiatives including taking part in a colour run. Due to the funds raised for the charity, the founders are due to travel to Delhi to see first-hand how the money they raised has benefited children in developing countries.
TIP 10: USE SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTIVELY
Social media is an invaluable way to reach your target audience. It’s also a brilliant way to build trust and a prominent tone of voice in a crowded market, so even the most niche clinics should maximise what social media can do.
Using social media doesn’t have to be all about trying to sell products or services to the customer – instead you can use social media as a way to show that you are a leader in your field. A great way to generate content is by jumping on the news agenda, for example a cosmetic clinic could share a link to a news story about the dangers of sun damage or comment on current trends in the industry. It might also be responding to or ‘stitching’ a video on a particular trend, something that’s very popular on TikTok specifically. Are a lot of people being misled or deceived about a certain trending treatment, and as a credible expert are you well placed to shed some light on the topic?
Likewise, to maintain engagement with your followers, create your own regular content – for example #SmileOfTheWeek. A continual content stream is a great way to keep followers engaged long-term and through this regular form of communication you help to further establish your brand identity and tone of voice.
The above tips outline ways in which you can help raise awareness of your clinic and thus get more patients through the door. Before you start this process however, it is vitally important that you have an engaging website that is clear and concise. Your clinic’s website will play a fundamental role in driving an interested person to come through your doors, so do make sure you have your contact information clearly displayed, have images of your clinic and profiles of your experts, and if you have it make use of case study ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures to show off your skills.
If you’re a dermatology clinic in need of a healthcare PR strategy, get in touch today to see how our team of experts can help you achieve your business goals.