During my years as an entertainment publicist, I was accustomed to clients craving the spotlight. In an industry where a successful career depends on media attention, a publicist is a natural addition to any celebrity management team.
Fast forward a few years, and my clients aren’t celebrities, but medical professionals. Articulate, well-informed and highly educated, physicians make ideal public relations clients. They lend credibility; they are passionate about their work. However, many medical professionals are hesitant to consider working with a publicist. The term ‘publicity’ may conjure up images of infomercials and used car salesman, or perhaps they perceive publicity as ‘hype’, therefore compromising the professional dignity of a medical career. However, in today’s media driven society, a successful public relations campaign can help build a physician’s practice, raise visibility, and position their medical team in a favorable light.
For a physician, being quoted in a medical article lends a tremendous amount of validation and credibility. The unbiased, unpaid nature of editorial coverage is far more effective than any form of advertising. The cross over of medical editorial into more consumer-orientated press is invaluable to a reputation. It’s a win/win for all involved. Journalists love working with medical professionals who can add credibility to their work, and physicians enjoy the added bonus of reaching a mainstream audience.
While people generally enjoy being recognized for their achievements, for some there can be a stigma attached to going out and seeking it. We can learn a lot from the medical professionals who benefit from media attention. The doctors we see in the mainstream press, while at the top of their field, have most likely hired a publicist to present them as experts to media outlets looking for sources. In addition to being a resource for articles, physicians are learning to use social media to contribute to their digital footprint. By writing articles on well-trafficked blogs and creating videos on YouTube, they can create a tailored online presence. It takes a skillful effort to create an accurate, positive perception in the minds of your potential patient base. Successfully placing yourself in the public eye helps differentiate you from your colleagues, and makes you stand out when they are choosing a doctor.
A strategic public relations campaign can elevate your platform of exposure. Media attention strengthens your influence, which helps you expand your client base, share your knowledge and increase profit. Physicians in private practice are business people after all, and I would be remiss not to reference the very overused quote by Bill Gates, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” Really, who can argue with Bill?