Perhaps you are the CEO of a regional ambulance firm, seeking to win a lucrative transport contract for a large hospital, but you are up against some serious competition. Or, maybe you are the General Manager of a growing Physical Therapy practice; you have just completed a key acquisition of a competitive practice and want to leverage the news to build your market share.
How do you have your company stand out and be top of mind?
Don’t underestimate the value of public relations when it comes to marketing and positioning your company as a leader in your industry.
Public relations (PR) is a great vehicle for telling a medical practice’s story in a factual, yet beneficial style. A PR campaign, properly implemented, will let thousands of readers, listeners and viewers (and as importantly, decision-makers!) know more about who you are, what you do. The right campaign can tip the scales in your favor as to why they should utilize your products and/or services.
Media gatekeepers – editors, publishers, programmers and webmasters – do not give away their space easily. But they are generally interested in good, quality content that informs and educates. They carefully evaluate the material they review to determine what best suits their viewers or readers; and, if it provides value, it’s likely to find its way into print or online. When a company’s public relations outreach matches the needs of the editorial gatekeepers, then everyone wins.
Your legitimate news can further your marketing goals by bringing you increased visibility and credibility. Some say we are a nation of cynics, but when something appears in print or is reported on television or online (and it is someone other than us saying it), that third-party validation carries with it significant weight and credibility.
Here are a few legitimate examples of self-promotion:
You open a new business; or, your current business opens a new location.
Your company wins an award or achieves professional recognition
You win a new client or contract
You add staff members, or promote existing ones.
You develop a new product
You are involved in a charitable cause (for example, you mount a campaign to collect money for the United Way and raise a sizeable dollar figure
These basic announcements are additionally good springboards for publicity; and PR-savvy companies and organizations try to get these seen on an on-going basis, usually several times a month.
The even greater value of PR comes when it is taken to a higher level – where a business or medical practice showcases its expertise through feature articles or by being quoted as an industry source in the media.
Suppose a healthcare writer for a respected regional magazine is doing an article on trends in physical therapy, or how the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) may affect the cost of ambulance transportation, the Physical Therapy practice or ambulance services provider who is the quoted source in these articles gets a little closer to “top of mind.” Companies who are successful in being quoted in articles can then take these articles and use them in their marketing: post the links to their LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook accounts. Similarly, a CEO or officer of a company may actively seek opportunities to contribute ‘guest’ articles (perhaps on how to prevent sports injuries, or how the Affordable Care Act will impact payments for Physical Therapists). Or, the ambulance company CEO who wishes to be more visible, might offer an article about the benefits of having people trained in the use of AEDs (defibrillators) in public buildings. Or offer guest articles on the state of the healthcare industry and where it is going in the next decade.
For the medical practice owner, getting on the radar screen of industry writers and editors/webmasters is an excellent strategy. These are relationships that are usually developed over time. It begins with sending legitimate news announcements about your organization to the right sources – and then follow-up with an offer to be interviewed or contribute articles.
Good PR is worth its weight in gold.
PR can be a powerful and persuasive way to communicate a company’s message. It is, all too often, an underutilized form of marketing that is among the most effective tools at the business owner’s disposal. Use it to fullest advantage. Good luck in the new year, and good publicity!
(Editor’s note: Jim Farrell is the president of PR First, a public relations/marketing company, with offices at 2048 Washington Street, Hanover, MA 02339. For additional information, call (781) 681-6616. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)