How to get media coverage for your practice

Article

Special events can draw a great deal of attention from both the public and the media.

Special events can draw a great deal of attention from both the public and the media.

It is a wonderful way to undertake professional publicity and promote the benefits and services at your hospital. But having a well-planned event is not enough to gain the media spotlight. You must also plan the media outreach effort, what key messages you wish to communicate, and know what makes good consumer stories in order to get covered. Here are the four main steps to getting good media coverage for your hospitals special events.

1) Prepare

Preparation means knowing in advance your key media message points, knowing your target media contacts, having a simple media kit and a properly done press release.

First, write down 10 key points about your event and your hospital that you feel are essential messages for the public. These are your key message points. You should try to work them into any interview you do, and they are the basis for your press release.

Next decide which media will be best for your story. Then make a list of the papers or stations and a contact person at each media. Use phone, fax and email to contact them when you are ready.

Prepare a simple media kit. This is a portfolio folder with your press release, hospital brochure, fact sheets, surveys and data, pictures and a business card. Think of it as a toolbox a reporter can use to write the story.

Finally, a properly written press release will get the medias attention and generate interest in your story.

2) Events that attract media attention

If your idea is not newsworthy, you will be wasting your time. Ideas that make news are timely, topical, new, fun, benefit the community or solve a major problem. They must also have a local angle to get local media interested.

For holidays, the easiest way to gain media attention is to craft a pet medical story around the season. Antifreeze poisoning, cold weather dangers, pets as gifts, all make newsworthy topics. Cooperative programs with the local shelter or a pet store also would be seen by the media as less commercial and of community interest.

Even the results of a survey that has a fun holiday spin will gain the media spotlight. Survey some of your clients and see what percentage give their pets a gift for Christmas. Add to that some fun yet safe gift ideas and you have a visual media story that would work for print, radio and television.

3) Be Proactive

Once you have a good idea, dont expect the media to call you. You must let them know you have a topic for their show and that you are ready to be interviewed on the subject and can bring with you an actual case or some other great visual item. Producers and editors are busy people and you may get a terse no. But dont give up. You will find a friendly and willing producer that will invite you on as a guest.

Use that media exposure opportunity to both educate and promote. Without you working in your name, phone number and Web site, the audience will not know how to contact you. Remember, the reason for this effort is for your own public awareness.

4) Follow-up

After your calls to media producers, or after an actual interview, be diligent about follow-up. Get them the resources you promised and include all your contact information. Make a note to the producer that you will be available anytime and include your home number. You never know when a hot topic, breaking news or other immediate need for your expertise will arise. You want to become a resource for the media when it comes to veterinary medicine.

(Author Note: There is an article at www.publicity123.com called, Get Free Publicity Using Holidays and Seasons, that might be very useful to readers.)

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