A fundamental truth about business, including the medical profession (and especially when speaking of medical clinics), is the fact it’s a never-ending competition to excel and succeed.
With that in mind, be on a constant lookout for opportunities to draw the limelight of publicity to yourself. What if you could create that opportunity on a much larger stage than you imagined? What if you could have access to huge numbers of potential patients?
It’s a noisy world out there, and your voice must resonate above the clamor. Your message needs to stand out, both in content and value; and, just as important, your brand needs to be elevated.
To raise your brand, you must be seen as an expert in your field. A profoundly effective method for achieving that status is by building relationships with local, regional, and national media sources. Through these relationships you can develop a mass- media footprint (as you begin to be featured in magazines, cable programming, and news outlets, for example).
Hijack the news
The point of building symbiotic relationships with the media is to share your knowledge on a large stage.
Moreover, you can use your expertise to educate a greater swath of the public than just your immediate patient base. Your knowledge can add context and perspective to the media’s health conversations.
The most successful doctors develop ways to inject their ideas and perceptions into monthly and weekly journals, even in breaking news stories in real time to generate media coverage for themselves by tapping into public discourse.
The strategy of targeting breaking news stories is known as “news jacking.” Technology has created a level playing field—literally anyone can news jack—but it still favors players who are observant, quick to react, and skilled at communicating. It’s a powerful tool that can be used to leverage your professional experiences and enhance the quality of the news being presented.
News jacking is indeed powerful, but only when executed in real time. It is about taking advantage of changes that may pop up only for a fleeting moment. In that instant, if you are shrewd enough to add a new dimension to the story as it’s unfolding, the news media will write about you.
It is only because of the emergence of the real-time web that news jacking has become possible in a methodical, systematic fashion.
According to noted marketing and sales strategist, David M. Scott, author of News Jacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage, “We live in a 24/7/365 world, in a second-by-second news environment, where the most prosperous and savvy operators realize there are new ways to generate media attention.”
A nimble strategy
The rules have changed; the traditional public relations (PR) model— sticking closely to a script and campaign timeline—no longer works the way it used to. Public discourse now moves so fast and dynamically that all it takes is a single afternoon to blast the wheels off someone’s laboriously crafted narrative.
To be most effective, launch your messaging ahead of the competition and attract the attention of highly engaged audiences by taking advantage of breaking news. And you do that by generating attention and growing business in real-time.
Our always-on, web-driven world has new rules for growing a business. Advance planning is out and agile is in.
The objective is to get in the second and subsequent paragraphs of stories in print. If you are clever enough to react to breaking news quickly, providing credible second-paragraph content in a blog post, tweet, or media alert that features the keyword of the moment, you may be rewarded with a bonanza of media attention.
As Scott says, your job is to spot an angle and get it online as fast as you can. You need to be astute and quick.
Your goal is to create a synergistic relationship that benefits both the media and you alike. Top publi- cations, regional and community television and radio, and national publications are always looking for experts to quote when big stories break. Your goal is to create and establish relationships with them so they’ll turn to you when they have an immediate need.
For example: Say your local news channel is developing a story on the dangers of beginning spring activi- ties after a sedentary winter. As the anchor begins describing the potential health concerns, they turn for expert testimony from a local chiropractor regarding the possible injuries that might be sustained and the preventive measures people can take.
It starts with a plan
Jennifer Ashton, MD, and Rahul Jandial, MD, PhD, are both noted experts who regularly appear on ABC World News Tonight and KTLA news discussing health-related topics. You may also know Drew Pinsky, MD, and Sanjay Gupta, MD, who are frequent guests in newsrooms and now have their own shows. These doctors demonstrate just how far expert status can take you.
The takeaway is that these things don’t happen randomly; you must form bonds that let the media know that you’re an available, competent, informative, and reliable resource.
You can find media opportunities on two levels: First, your immediate sphere of business activities (such as local associations, business affiliations, and industry publications) and local or personal interests and, second, in the wider scope of national and global news.
Stay plugged in
Develop news-monitoring strategies that keep you instantly informed on the local and national level. Monitor media and journalists you may already know, including the influential blogs and trade publications that cover your marketplace.
There are many ways to keep your eyes on available media opportunities. You can do regular Google searches for specific topics and who’s addressing them. Or, you can set up Google alerts for particular subjects. Another option is to sign up for sites like sumo.com to look for genre articles and who’s writing them. LinkedIn is another resource for developing relationships with writers, publishers, and editors.
Develop a list of search terms relevant to your practice and interests. Search for industry terms, competitors, prospects, and products, plus any buzzwords or phrases—everything you can think of is fair game.
Make it a priority to follow bloggers, analysts, journalists, and others who cover your brand of healthcare. Identify as many voices and relevant trade journals as you can.
Reap the rewards
If your written voice develops a reputation for informed, insightful, authoritative, articulate, quotable, and timely commentary on key issues in healthcare, journalists will learn to seek you out for your perspective.
Maybe you won’t be the next Dr. Oz, but if you’re interested in networking, promoting your practice, educating the public, engaging with your patients (and those at large), contributing to medical conversations, and developing your brand, seek out the media.
Steve Cox and Claudio Gormaz have worked with the chiropractic community for over 20 years. Many prominent medical practices in the country have benefited from their strategies, developed fruitful and predictable advertising messages, as well as creating solid branding platforms while elevating their resident expert status. They can be contacted through 530-492-9971, stevenvonloren.com, or stevenvonloren@ yahoo.com.