Friendships and relationships are an important component in business dealings because it’s a conduit to the trust and rapport necessary in order to rely on one another. For example, we purchase from our equipment dealers because we trust them, and vice versa, our physician referral sources send patients to us because they trust us. Having that open line of communication and trust benefits all parties, allowing both to succeed.
For physical therapists in private practice, the pursuit of the highly coveted consumer market is on the perpetual rise, and because of this, it’s important for us to leverage relationships that can help us reach the consumer in efficient and powerful ways. Relationships with the media are one great method to use and one that is largely untapped by healthcare providers.
In this article, I will discuss four tips on how you can cultivate and leverage friendships with the media in a manner that can expose your physical therapy practice to your local consumer market, without breaking the bank.
1. Build a relationship with media writers and editors
The first rule in engaging the media is to realize that they shouldn’t be treated any differently than your referral sources. A media outlet is just another organization, much like any physician group that sends patients your way, and within the organization, there are a number of contacts you’ll want to stay close to.
Media solicitations traditionally take the form of story ideas and press releases, many of which promote a story, product or service — writers and editors see a high volume of these each day.
Standing apart from the competition is achieved through building a relationship with the writer or editor, which can go a long way toward receiving consideration for publication of a story idea or press release. This relationship is best started through community networking and introduction; however, it can also start with a phone call to the editor to learn more about their needs and how you may be able to help them.
Writers and editors are paid to produce good content and are on the constant lookout for resources that can help them do just this. A simple offer to meet for coffee to discuss the work they’ve published can be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.
2. Be Part of the Larger Story
Approaching a media contact with a press release or story idea that is overtly self-promotional in nature will most likely be tossed aside and may jeopardize your relationship with that contact. The media is in the business of storytelling, not promoting you or your practice. By positioning your practice as a component of a larger story of broad community interest, you provide the media with opportunities to make references that may serve you well, while avoiding obvious self-promotion. You are the content expert of your specialty; see how your expertise can be lent into a larger story in your community –readers will see the value you bring through a few key quotes in the article.
3. Have an objective
When establishing relationships with the media, have an objective in mind and know the position you are seeking. General objectives appropriate to a media relations strategy include:
Awareness – This is typically measured by impressions, or the number of times a key phrase (such as the name of you or your practice) is seen or heard. While difficult to measure with a high level of certainty, impressions can be estimated if media distribution can be obtained from the media outlet.
Position – This is achieved by juxtaposing your solution with an issue or problem known to be of broad community interest.
Lead generation – This is also fair game in a media relations strategy, and in the presence of a trustworthy relationship with the writer or editor, a phone number or web address can be easily added to media mentions in order to provide the community with resources relevant to the problem addressed in the story.
4. Make their life easy and make them look good.
Earn easy favor with media contacts by making their life easier and making them look good. When pitching story ideas or press releases, be clear and concise, allowing the recipient to easily understand how you or the story can be used to produce good content. If they aren’t clear, be quick to address concerns and fixes. Oftentimes writers and editors are looking for an expert resource or someone with a story idea, and having a good media contact relationship can serve you both well in this circumstance. Leave your mark in both areas so you’re the first one they call when a relevant perspective is needed.
By understanding the media, developing relationships and offering valuable solutions, business owners can receive the benefit of community exposure at a minimal expense.
Check out this on-demand webinar to learn about how to position your practice for a “better than normal” future following the impact of COVID-19.