Public Relations Director
I’m sure that many of you have tried some sort of marketing, including press releases. Maybe it worked or maybe it didn’t.
While there’s a lot to creating an effective marketing campaign, (which we cover at the MGE New Patient Workshop), I wanted to give you a simple tip that costs next to nothing on how to get more new patients. This tip specifically has to do with the subject of Public Relations or “PR” as it’s often called.
Public Relations is a “cousin” to traditional marketing. It has everything to do with creating positive patient/community relations and a great public image for your practice. Good PR done in tandem with proper marketing can also drive more new patients into your practice.
Standing out from the competition
How many dental offices are in your area? 10, 20, 30 or more? How about the hundreds or thousands of other businesses in town? Googling “local dentists” will return a list of the many dental practices in your area. It’s incredibly easy to fall into obscurity or become just another name on that Google search results list if you don’t promote and get your name out there. Prospective new patients won’t look for or come to your practice if they don’t know anything about you.
So how can you get an edge over your competition and distinguish yourself as the dentist for potential new patients in your community?
You need to repeatedly get your name and message out in order to build strong familiarity in the community and foster a certain image, which is how people perceive you and your practice. One of the prime ways to do that is through press releases.
What is a press release?
A press release should be a succinct factual piece (about 300 to 800 words) that answers the who, what, when, where, why, and how of an event or recent development in or related to the business. It is written in a straightforward, professional manner without hyperbole (i.e. expressing strong emotions or opinions like “the very best dental office in town” or “absolutely love this doctor” unless it’s a direct quote from someone), exclamation points and sales talk. Companies and businesses write press releases as they have something newsworthy that they want the people in their community to know about. The subject matter of a press release has to be timely, meaning it is going to happen or it only just happened.
Today press releases are typically sent (via email or fax) to traditional media outlets, such as newspapers, television news stations, and even magazines in hopes that one or more editors will pick up the release and run a story on it. In addition, a vast majority of businesses release their stories directly to the public via online newsfeed services, like PRweb.com.
Think about the times you have read or seen stories about a certain product or an upgrade that just came out, a charitable fundraiser, some type of pro bono work, an event put on or sponsored by an organization, a grand opening, a feature about a business with the benefits they offer, etc. in a newspaper or on TV. All of this news content originally came from press releases sent to the news media by businesses.
In this way, the media and business have a mutually beneficial relationship. Businesses feed the “news machine” and get exposure and “free promotion” in return.
If a news editor decides to use your press release for a story, then you also get the benefit of a third-party endorsement. This adds an extra element of credibility that a regular ad doesn’t necessarily have. The editor thought your communication was newsworthy, accurate, and important information that other people should know, so this can reinforce your message in the eyes of the reader. Moreover, if one news outlet publishes a story on your practice, it is possible that other news outlets will follow suit and run your story as well, leading to even greater exposure and credibility for you.
Ideas for press releases
For a dental practice, there are many topics you can use for a press release. For example, it can be as simple as communicating that you bought new equipment for the office and how that benefits your patients, you just hired a new associate, or are remodeling or expanding your office space.
A press release can also be about how you just finished a continuing education program and can now deliver other more advanced clinical procedures. You can highlight an important milestone and what that means for your practice, such as “We just serviced our 10,000th patient” or “We are about to celebrate our 20th anniversary of being in business.”
If you are going the extra mile by getting involved in charitable projects, and sponsoring and/or participating in community events, then definitely take advantage of press releases to publicize this.
For example, one dentist donated half of all revenues made from his new patient special to charity and used press releases to get the word out. The story was printed in at least one newspaper and he was able to get more new patients just by doing that. Another dentist partnered with a local business to create a health fair. They charged the vendors a fee to set up their exhibition booths and donated the proceeds to charity. Again, a press release would promote the health fair as well as the dentist who took part in making it happen.
So if you are sponsoring that little league team, fundraising for charity and your name is in the news, then a potential new patient is more likely to remember you or pay attention to your postcards and ads.
Case in point: someone gets a toothache. They have some awareness of you because you sponsored their kid’s baseball team, or they heard about your participation in a charitable cause and read/saw something about it in the news. They look you up online and then call your office to schedule an appointment. You now have a new patient.
While press releases can be a useful tool for bolstering the image of your practice and making it more well-known, they don’t replace internal and external new patient marketing. If you want to learn how turn your practice into a NEW PATIENT MACHINE, do the MGE New Patient Workshop! Call (800) 640-1140 or 727-530-4277 to find out more.