When it comes to PR and medical-oriented media relations,remember, your best stories are patient success stories. Yes, as the physician you’re the expert and the educator, but it’s your patient stories that in turn will tell your story. The media is looking to interest their audience, whether that audience is readers, viewers or listeners and what’s going to grab their attention is going to be stories that affect them. Although the audience is going to be interested in your expertise and information, what is going to impact them on a visceral, emotional level is going to be patient stories that they can identify with.
Make a list of patients who have interesting, impactful stories they can tell. You want these stories to illustrate how lives were changed or transformed. Contact the appropriate patients, explain how their stories can help educate and inform others who are dealing with similar problems or issues. Explain what would be involved and how this would be an important outreach to the media. This is not just a way to sell a patient on appearing in the media. Patient stories educate and inform the public. That is generally how the public learns about new procedures, treatments, and options. We’ve worked with physicians where the patients were more than willing to tell their stories because they wanted others in their situation to be able to benefit from their story. There are patients who will have no interest in speaking to the media, preferring to keep their story private. That is something to be respected. But let patients know that you are collecting anecdotal stories and that you’ll be presenting some of these stories to the media to explain and educate the public on your work. You may be surprised at how many will be willing and even eager to tell their story.
Once you have patients who are willing to tell their stories, match the various patient stories to the appropriate media outlets. For example a story about the latest breakthroughs in back surgery, would be pitched differently than a story about hormone replacement therapy. A story on a ten year old dealing with food allergies, would need a different approach altogether. If your stories include before and after photos, make sure to get images that are as professional as possible. Be sure to have your patients sign a release form.
Once you have patients who are willing to tell their story to the media, meet with them to review the questions that the media could ask them. Make your patients as comfortable as possible with the process. Remember, these patients are not only telling their stories, they’re representing you and your practice. You want them to be articulate and the presentation to be accurate and appropriate. Utilizing medical-oriented public relations can serve several purposes, it can build your practice and educate and inform the public. By getting this information to the public through the media you can improve and, in some cases, save lives.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012