When physician groups and hospitals gin up marketing campaigns to win new outpatients and open a suite of offices, then publicity – in tandem with direct mail, website and social media – can successfully kick off the campaign to build awareness in the community and among referring clinicians. Repeated positioning of the strengths of a clinical practice in all communications, and telling a compelling story to targeted audiences brings solid results.
Here’s the practical 1-2-3 guide to how I planned for the opening of an orthopedics center at a teaching hospital. Placements included 4 newspapers, 2 TV stations, a radio station and multiple Internet outlets. Simple checklists can bring success.
· Advanced planning – Meet with the chairman of the department and the hospital’s marketing director several months in advance of the opening. Tie down the exact date and time, who the specific target audiences were (don’t forget community leaders!), and what collateral material was needed (brochure, web page), what mailing lists exist/ are needed.
· Positioning -- We determined how the offices differed from competitors and focused on strengths (largest in the region, breadth of specialists, standard and specialty care, high technology such as digital x-ray units). These points were made in all brochures, emails, news releases, on the website – and were made into talking points for the chairman for his upcoming interviews.
· Site Tour -- Two weeks before the event, I visited the site of the orthopedic center and with the administrator, scouted out the best sites for giving the media a tour of the patient areas and technology spaces that made the new center unique.
· Advising the Media -- We wrote a media advisory, documenting the “who, what, where, why and when” of the event. A week before the opening, we emailed the advisory to all local media in the hospital’s catchment area. The day before the event I emailed the advisory again and left a phone message, with my cell phone number for the “day of” contact. (If your opening is large enough, alert AP Daybook, as well).
· Opening Day -- We met all TV, radio and print reporters at the site.
o We made available to them a press kit, including a news release
o We arranged personal interviews with the chairman of the department or the president of the hospital
o We had reporters remain for the brief opening ceremonies
o We gave a tour of the facilities (for guests and media), carefully giving each reporter individual access to senior staff who could explain the technology.
o We had a staff photographer to take photos (no video) and sent these with captions to all media who did not make the event.