Spread the News: Press Releases Are a Great Marketing Tool
This just in…press releases can be a great way for medical practices to market themselves and enhance their online presence. They’re not a bad way to deliver news, either. But what do you do if you don’t have any significant news to deliver? You might be surprised by how many topics relevant to your practice are sufficiently newsworthy to merit press releases.
Imagine sitting down to your coffee and eggs one morning, picking up the newspaper, and reading the following headline:
LOCAL DENTIST BUYS NEW LASER
Seems kind of far-fetched, right? But it is news, even if your local newspaper or TV station probably wouldn't jump at the opportunity to report it.
The Internet, however, doesn't discriminate among news stories based on a subjective idea of what's important and what isn't. There's room for stories on virtually any topic and of any magnitude. The New York Times and CNN may pass on a story about the addition of a new laser to a dental practice, but it will be available to people who are interested - that is, if they can find it.
The best way to ensure that information about the latest developments at your practice can be found is to make it available through as many outlets as possible. At the very least, a well-rounded online marketing strategy should include:
- Blog Posts - You should be blogging regularly, preferably at least once a week
- Facebook / Social Media - Reach out to prospective and existing patients alike
- Updated Website Content - As your practice evolves, so should your website
- Downloadable newsletters, audio, and other promotional materials
There are other, less widely known ways to disseminate news on the Internet that will help to distinguish you from your competitors. One of the most effective yet underused is also one of the most time-tested and reliable: the press release. A press release distributed via the Internet stands a good chance of attracting the interest of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, even if it doesn't appeal to more traditional media outlets.
As long as your press releases aren't overtly promotional in tone and content, they can be a remarkably potent marketing tool for your practice. They simply have to be newsworthy. Coming up with newsworthy topics on a regular basis may seem challenging at first. However, the well of topics may be a lot deeper than you think.
Ideas for Press Releases
In order to be newsworthy, a press release should be centered on fact rather than opinion. It should also be timely, revolving around a recent or upcoming event, change, or milestone. Don't worry if the news isn't exactly earth shattering. It simply has to be notable in the context of your practice.
Here are some ideas for press release topics to help get your creative juices flowing:
Changes to Your Practice
- New products, procedures, and services
- New doctor, nurse, receptionist, or other staff member
- Introduction of advanced technology or technique for performing a procedure
- New technology for improved case tracking
- The launch of a new practice website or the addition of pages to an existing site
Personal Honors and Accomplishments
- Receiving an award
- Earning new certification
- Being featured in a magazine or newspaper article
- Appearing on television
- Being elected to a position of prominence in a professional organization
- Speaking engagements in front of students or peers
- Publication in a medical or academic journal
- Publication of a book or book chapter
- Practice anniversaries ("We've been satisfying patients for ten years!")
- Significant number of procedures performed ("Dr. Williams just performed his five-hundredth LASIK procedure")
- Significant number of patients served ("Last month, we welcomed our one-thousandth patient into our practice")
New Promotions and Specials
- Holiday specials
- Seasonal (e.g., summer) specials
- Special offers for new patients
- Charity work
- Event sponsorship
- Sponsorship of a local sports team
- Internship programs
- Storm and other disaster relief efforts
- Personal success of a patient
- Retirement of a valued staff member
- Staff member's participation in a marathon
- Doctor's donation of services to those in need
- Local radio host
- Local television personality
- Member of a local sports team
In developing topics for potential press releases, try to avoid:
- Biographies of doctors and staff members ("Meet Our Patient Coordinator")
- Appeals to prospective patients (especially direct appeals addressing "you")
- Editorials ("Technique X is better than Technique Y")
- Description of your office or facilities (e.g., "virtual tours")
- Descriptions of procedures or technologies that are not new to your practice
This does not mean that you cannot include information about your experience, staff, technology, or record of success. In fact, your press release should include such information. As long as the focus of your press release is the news announcement, and it doesn't read as a thinly veiled advertisement, some subtle self-promotion is certainly acceptable.
The Takeaway: Benefits of Press Releases
Chances are that your competitors are aware of the value of blogs and social media, whether they are actively using these tools or not. But how many of your competitors are issuing press releases on a regular basis? While press releases are not a substitute for a great website and blog, they can be a powerful adjunct. They can:
- Improve your website's search engine rankings
- Increase traffic to your website
- Lead to new links to your website
- Improve your website's long-term performance via these new links
The next time a significant event, change, or milestone occurs at your practice, don't let it pass without spreading the news. Update your website content. Write a blog post. Tell your Facebook friends. And…
STOP THE PRESSES!
…issue a press release.