4 Tips for Generating Media Exposure for Spine & Orthopedic Practices

Written by Daniel Goldberg, CEO of Gold Medical Marketing | July 31, 2013 | Print  |

Daniel GoldbergThis article is written by Daniel Goldberg, CEO of Gold Medical Marketing.

Generating media exposure is an often overlooked or underutilized tool in medical marketing, particularly because it requires time, follow up and, most importantly, a thorough understanding of how producers, editors and writers work.

Knowing how to pitch stories is a complex discipline. When done well, it can bring tremendous results to your practice. When done poorly, it is a great way to get the media to ignore you forever.

 

 

1. Know when to send a press release or a feature story. Many physicians confuse what should be sent as a press release and what should be sent as a feature story. The bottom line is, when you are wrong, editors and producers hate it. Knowing the difference between the two can bring a wealth of exposure to your practice.
 

Press Releases
A press release is an effective way to announce an event or new initiative begun by your practice. They are short and to the point of cover the five basics the writer or producer is looking for:

 

●    Who
●    What
●    Where
●    When
●    Why

 

Generally, these should be kept to four to five paragraphs or 400 to 500 words. Remember, you are not giving the full story with a press release — you are giving the relevant information in a simple and digestible format. The goal for this is to have the release run as is in a publication, or to have a journalist contact you for a full story or segment.
 

Feature Story

A feature story is just as it sounds: a story featuring something of human interest that is longer than a press release and in a different style and tone. For medical professionals, feature stories often focus on a particular patient who has an interesting or captivating story. Also, the utilization of a new and pioneering procedure can also be the subject of a feature story but it must always revolve around the patient, not the doctor.
 

In most cases, the feature will be changed and modified to fit the criteria of a certain publication or news outlet. If the feature story is picked up by a TV producer they will want to interview the patient as well as the doctor, so it is imperative to make sure the patient is available and willing to be interviewed before submitting the story.

 

2. Focusing on the patient. Despite your inclination to make the focus of the story or feature about your "revolutionary approach" or "vast clinical knowledge," this is not what the viewing audience nor the journalist are interested in. The focus of the story is the patient. More specifically, the hardships the patient endured, the physical or social obstacles caused by the patient’s condition, the effect on the patient’s quality of life and the resilience they showed throughout it all. The physician's part in all of this is to give an understandable clinical history of the patient as well as to describe the approach used to treat the patient. The goal is to create a human interest story that touches people.
 

Essentially, the patient is a proxy to generate interest in your practice and to bring new patients. When a story or feature becomes too focused on the physician the media views it as self-promoting and will almost always pass on the story.

 

3. Knowing what they want. There are several different types of media outlets that are open to medical content including, print, radio and TV. The key is knowing what each medium is interested in and how to give them your content.
 

Print
Newspapers, magazines and local websites are a great way to communicate with those in your community. In most instances, print publications are mainly interested in content that focuses on a member of the community or an initiative begun by a physician that helps the local community. Feature stories are often picked up by these outlets because stories about local residents show that the publication is in tune with the community.
 

Press releases regarding a new procedure or program begun by a physician are also popular. However, there is a delicate art to this. If the press release is overly solicitory the editors will pass because they are not interested in doing free promotion for a physician.

 

Radio
As a marketing and public relations professional I have always been averse to radio ads. Radio is typically packed with car dealers and furniture sale advertisement. By using the same air time to promote your medical practice, listeners may equate you to the screaming voice-over telling them to what a great deal they can get on a new car.
 

However, this is not to say that radio is not a great way to promote your practice. One of the most effective forms of radio is sports radio. Almost every week, it is announced that a professional athlete is going to be sidelined due to an injury or will be undergoing a surgery to correct an injury. The primary question on all sports fans minds is, “How long will they be out?” It is in this fashion that your knowledge and expertise become useful to the radio host who has to fill a five hour daily radio block.
 

Almost weekly I contact radio producers and have one of my clients go on air and discuss an athlete’s injury and general prognosis. When a listener hears the physician on air discussing the injuries of a high profile athlete it creates the perception of esteem and expertise. Also, thousands of people are listening to your assessment and hearing your name. This creates brand recognition for your practice and reinforces you as the expert in this form of injury.
 

Television
TV features are often the hardest to attain as most people are pitching TV producers over print editors. This is because as print and radio audiences wane, TV news programs have remained steady. For this reason, TV producers are getting hundreds of pitches everyday and knowing how to pitch them is key.
 

The key for TV producers is visuals. The producer is going to want to condense all the elements of your story into a two to four minute segment and although that may not seem like a long time, it is a very long time for TV. The key for a successful segment is keeping the audiences attention and to do that visuals are essential.
 

If you have a compelling story that interests a producer they will want footage of the procedure, footage of you with the patient, B-roll footage. All things to keep the attention of the while the story is narrated.
 

Also, the topic and scope of the story must be relevant to their demographic. For national shows (Dr. Oz, The Doctors, The View, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc.), their viewing audience is made up a certain demographic and the story must fit the interests of that audience. They are not always as interested in the content of the story as they are with satisfying the audience.

 

4. The art of the pitch. Sending pitches to general emails or publishers is an absolute waste of time. Finding out who covers health and medicine and doing the research is what gets stories placed. However, just because someone is a health or medical editor does not mean they want all of your stories. Some of them are only interested in clinical trials, pharmaceuticals, published studies, etc. Sending these reporters pitches that do not fit their criteria is the fastest way to annoy them and get ignored forever. The story has to fit their needs as well as have a connection to something that has been reported on earlier or something they are looking for.
 

There are countless elements that go into pitching a story that include offering expert guests, making the connections, timing, research, being a trustworthy source, etc.

 

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