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"You have turned my life around"
 

I am 87 years old, with a problem of the prostate gland. Before I met Dr. Baum, I went to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes. After Dr. Baum's treatment on my prostate, I go only 5 times per day and only 1 time at night! You turned my life around. I am so very grateful!

-Sidney Daigle


I want to thank you for your due diligence. You saved my life. I highly recommend you!

-Dwight Bastian


Thank you Dr. Baum! Because of you I'm back in the "rodeo"!

-Gerald Wallace

 


By Dr. Neil Baum** and David Tyree*

One of the best and least expensive ways to market and promote your practice is to attract media attention. With a little thought, organization, and a well-written pitch letter to the appropriate decision maker at the radio or TV station, you can attract free public relations that would normally cost thousands of dollars if you had to pay for it and, more importantly, can attract dozens and even hundreds of new patients to your practice. Of course you can attract media attention if you have news about a sex scandal in the hospital or the clinic, but that's hardly what will bring patients to the office! This article will focus on what topics that are likely to attract the attention of the media moguls that have the ability to place your medicos in front of the camera or the microphone on a regular basis

Topics that are of particular interest are local breaking medical news. For example, if your hospital has a gamma camera and your institution is the first in the state to use this new therapeutic technology, you have a story that will be of interest to the readers and listeners of the radio and TV stations.

Whenever possible ride on the coat tails of national stories that are in the headlines. I know there has been only one septuplets successfully delivered in the United States, but if your hospital has delivered five or even four children you have an attractive piece of news that gives a local spin on a national event.

You can showcase your physicians if they happen to have a unique area of interest or expertise that attracts patients from long distances to come and see them for their care. Examples are a physician in my community that is a national expert on the Gulf War Syndrome and has a federal grant to study the existence of this problem. Another is a local opthamologist that developed the Eximer laser for the treatment of myopia or nearsightedness. Her new treatment attracted patients from all over the country as well as hundreds of physicians that visit the community to learn the procedure. Clearly the media was interested in reporting on this new treatment modality.

There's no better way to give credibility to a medical story than to offer the testimony of a treated patient. A patient that can articulate their medical experience with your physicians and your hospital can be invaluable as a media magnet. Especially if this is a high profile individual in the community like a politician, a business leader, or a civic activist.

For example, after the earthquake in Mexico a few years ago, there was a shortage of medical care since so many hospitals were either full to capacity to were so severely damaged that they were non-functional. A Mexican lady came to New Orleans for care and I was able to have the hospital accept her without charge and I arranged for all of the doctors to provide her with free care. I contacted several of the TV stations and two of them ran the story.

Do's and Don't for Marketing to the Media

 

  1. Don't send lengthy or expensive press releases. Most reporters don't have the time or inclination to read them. Even the most elaborate, expensive and beautifully produced press packets come across the desk of a reporter only to end up in the waste paper basket.

     

  2. Do send brief releases (150-250 words) and follow-up. You can save your money, and the reporter's time by using nice, white stationary that is properly addressed and contains a concise description of what you want to talk or write about. Mail or FAX a simple, one-page press release in outline form of who, what, when, where and why your piece should be covered. We suggest a catchy headline or attention-getting first sentence. An effective news release answers three questions, 1) Why is this important? 2) Who cares?, and 3) What's in it for me?

     

  3. Do follow-up. Follow-up after a few days or, at most, a week after submitting the news release. First, a follow-up will ensure that your release was received. Also, a follow-up call will allow you to answer any questions that a reporter might have.

     

  4. Do try to create an event? Rather than just sending a press release like everyone else, we suggest that you attempt to create an "event". For example, if you have a new state-of-the-art piece of equipment or technology invite the media for a free demonstration. Make it exciting by inviting local dignitaries or celebrities to participate in the event. In your press release, announce this is the first public demonstration and invite the media to participate and take pictures. Whenever possible, have a patient who has used or experienced the equipment or technology.

     

  5. Do provide refreshments for the press. If you are inviting the press to your office then have refreshments and snacks. Remember, reporters, like anyone else, enjoy eating.

     

  6. Do create visuals. If , for example, you have a new, state-of-the-art piece of equipment or a dazzling surgical technique invite the media for a hands-on demonstration. Remember that showing rather than just telling always helps the audience, including the reporters, to understand better. I once used a rubber band to demonstrate how a vasectomy is performed and a balloon with a clothes pin to trap the air in the balloon to demonstrate how the bladder and urinary sphincters work.

     

  7. Do include patients. You will be amazed at how many patients will enjoy having access to the media and would like to participate in a media event. There's no better method to get your point across than to use a satisfied patient that has used your treatment, experienced your medical widget, or has benefited from your surgery. Although you may be the expert, a patient is usually more believable and more convincing.

     

  8. Do provide the reporter with questions that you would like to answer. Never forget that the reporter has an ego just like physicians. They want to look good. Their job depends on their ratings. You can make them look good if they ask the right questions that produce the right answers that appeal to the listening or viewing audience. There is no better way to enhance the program for your reporter than to provide him/her with a few questions that you would like asked and that you are prepared to answer.

     

  9. Do provide a compelling reason or "hook" to run your story or conduct your interview. If you have a new treatment for cancer, for impotence, or for restoring hair on a man's head, then you have an exciting breakthrough that will impact the viewer or listener. The reporter can hardly risk turning you down and having the story scooped by the competition. This kind of breakthrough will intrigue the producer, and ensure that you get your 2-3 minutes on the show.

Finally, don't be disappointed, and don't give up. Getting media attention is not like treating a urinary tract infection where almost every patient gets cured and your batting average is 100%. You can expect a far smaller batting average when approaching the media. But remember that Babe Ruth was the league's leader in strikeouts (760?) the year he set the record for home runs!


*David Tyree is the former host of a highly rated New Orleans talk show and a media consultant to industry and business on media attention and media communication.

** Dr. Neil Baum is the author of Take Charge of Your Medical Practice (Aspen) and a national speaker on marketing and managed care issues.