The process we call PR is happening all around us, all the time. Any and all communication results in others forming a view of us and our business, so it is imperative that we take control of the messages we may be inadvertently sharing, which can be good or bad! Always bear in mind that whatever you say or do is, essentially, PR.
Many practice principals find the idea of implementing a PR plan a daunting one, which is not surprising considering undergraduate dental education focuses very much on the clinical aspects of being a dentist. The good news is that PR need be neither complicated nor expensive to be effective.
A great way to grab people’s attention is by sharing something newsworthy with them. This ‘hook’ is the story you want people in your area to hear and read about, and through it understand more about you and your dental practice.
Information that qualifies as newsworthy includes: a new service you’re offering in the practice; charity work; any special offers; or any business awards you have won. You might even have treated a celebrity – might they allow you or a journalist to conduct an interview about their journey with you?
The important thing here – whatever the subject – is that you ensure it is indeed new information, or a new angle, and that people in your area might be interested in it. To be sure, it is a great idea to gather a group of friends and ask them if the topic you have in mind has the ‘wow’ factor.
To communicate your PR, the best thing you can do is get on friendly terms with local media representatives; there’s no need to be shy of journalists and editors. A good journalist is always interested in meeting new people and following a potential lead. Start locally, targeting media outlets in your community – such as the local paper – as this will provide a direct link with the people most likely to become your patients.
Once you’ve created a targeted list, it is time to introduce yourself and, perhaps, issue an invitation to the practice. You might even decide to offer some free whitening or another treatment as an incentive.
Make your mark
You are not going for a hard sell, so there’s no need to worry that PR will make you feel awkward or alienate your patients. Rather, it will serve to show patients how you can help to meet their needs and wants.
Believe in your business, identify what’s newsworthy, get to know people in your local media who can help share your stories and be ready to reap the benefits that a good PR plan offers your practice and your patients.
Gemma Godman BA (Hons) is Managing Director of GG Communications (www.ggcommunications.co.uk), a marketing and PR consultancy specialising in the healthcare sector. At the BoD Practice Managers' Conference 2013 in June, Gemma will be speaking on the topic of Taking advantage of media opportunities. For further information or to book your place, visit bodhub.co.uk/events or call 0845 003 0048.