Friday, June 19, 2009

Shining the Media Spotlight on Your Practice!

Learning how to work with the media system

Media meets medicine is not something that happened with the arrival of reality television and shows such as Dr. 90210 and The Swan. The media has been reporting on developments in the aesthetic medicine field for more than 2 decades.

Innovative surgeons have always realized the "power of the press." However, positioning yourself in the media is not an easy task. It can be time-consuming and costly if you don't know what to do or who to hire.

First, you need to understand how the media works. Media courses can offer in-depth training on such topics as press release writing, finding news within your own practice, approaching the press with a newsworthy story, and proven follow-up techniques. Until you have the opportunity to take a media course, there are practical ways to kick off your very own media campaign right now:

Think news. Every patient who comes into your office is a potential news story. They each have a personal reason for wanting surgery. Oftentimes, they want to share their stories with others and are willing to be candidates for press interviews.

Keep up with trends. Each year, societies and academies publish results of surveys conducted among their members. Those surveys result in statistics that show the increase in trends and procedures.

The media love to see growth statistics, especially those that can be proven by such credible organizations. Whereas most national media outlets report these statistics, many local press outlets are never shown the results and may welcome the chance to interview you as the local resource.

Get more than CMEs at industry events. Though many of you attend meetings and events to learn new techniques and fulfill CME requirements, don't overlook the gold mine of information in the exhibit hall. This is where all the new future possibilities lie, and things are discussed there before they are discussed from the podium.

Also, should you be in the market for a new piece of equipment, many of the larger technology firms offer promotional packages that you can use to obtain valuable media coverage in your area.

Be charitable. Charitable work or philanthropic contributions are of interest to the media. In these instances, aesthetic surgery is considered "surgery of the soul," especially when it is reconstructive surgery. Such a media campaign promotes a positive community image.

Making a move? If you are planning a grand opening, invite the press. Many community newspapers have a "society" or "locals only" section. If you are opening your practice, get involved with the local Chamber of Commerce and have a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Obtain the press—literally speaking. If you have written a book, are involved with clinical research, or are conducting community speaking engagements, let the media know.

Hiring a professional dedicated to public relations, who can apply his or her experience dealing with the media, can be the best way to garner media exposure.

Don't delegate this task to your office manager or receptionist. He or she may not have the necessary expertise in dealing with the media. This position carries full-time obligations and high expectations, and requires minute-by-minute responsibility and work-related creativity. Whether the person you choose is part of a PR agency or is part of your office staff, he or she should have a lineup of easily accessed media contacts.

A PR firm can provide you with credibility that advertising cannot buy. If you are quoted during a local newscast, the audience's perception is that you must be an expert. Why else would a reporter be interviewing you? Not only does this kind of PR boost patient awareness and peer recognition, it affirms to the patients who have already booked surgery with you that they made the right choice of physicians.Finally, understand that getting yourself in the spotlight does not always happen overnight. Public relations campaigns can take weeks, months, or even years to become successful, depending on your goal.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ready For Your Close-up? Article Featured in PSP

There is only one way to look on television: Good

Q: Are you a real doctor?

A: No. I just play one on television!

Fortunately for you, you are a real physician. Yet, some of you may actually get to "play" one on television—you may get a chance to play yourself on television.

Like it or not, reality television is here to stay. As our population continues to age, the increase in medical television shows and consumer interest in those shows will only grow.
For those of you who are looking to further your medical career and increase your practice revenues by being regularly featured on television, here are a few ways you can still keep the appearance of being a physician and also project an image that is professional, knowledgeable, and—most importantly—attractive to the viewer.

Oftentimes, a television producer or reporter will have an agenda regarding the interview and how it is going to proceed. Although you need to be knowledgeable about the show's format and the producer's demands, you must never forget that this is about you. You are not there to provide entertainment. You are there because you have decided that you want to build a practice, build an image, and build a brand. And the medium of television is the fastest, most cost-effective medium in which to achieve that goal.


There is only one way to look on television—good.

Image is everything, especially when you talk about aesthetic surgery. The best choice for clothes in a television interview is still a conservative blue or gray suit for men. Some men wear black and look great. Others look washed out. If you are uncertain, choose blue or gray. Both colors look neat and photograph well.

Wear a light blue or cream shirt and a tie with a small print or striped pattern. White shirts may make you look pasty on camera and can reflect glare. Light blue is still the best choice.
Check the length of your socks and pants (in a sitting position) to make sure no leg is visible. There is nothing more off-putting than watching a man on television who crosses his legs to show hairy legs under his pants. Wear higher socks or longer pants to be certain this does not happen to you.

The same color schemes apply to women, although they can wear more spring colors such as beige, light brown, and pale blue. When in doubt, stick with the basic that feels comfortable.
Skirt length for women is important. Just as our fear of seeing a guy's hairy leg is very real in this context, there is also the fear of seeing a little too much thigh should your skirt ride too high when you sit down.

If you are unsure about this issue, practice in front of a mirror. Wear the clothes you are thinking about wearing on camera, and place a chair in front of the mirror. Try sitting in a couple of positions, crossing and uncrossing your legs to see what is revealed. Then make the choice.
In addition, I suggest that you bring a change of clothes (at least a shirt or blouse) to the shoot with you. All clothes should be freshly laundered. You do not want to run the risk of being without an alternate change of clothes should you spill something on yourself.

Although looking good is imperative when making a television appearance, being well rehearsed is of equal value. Most times, you can go into an interview with the confidence that you know more about your subject than the host or reporter does.

However, don't be fooled. Make sure you really do know your subject. For example, if you are going to talk about a specific procedure, know its history. Who else has performed it? Are there any complications?

Anticipate questions that the reporter might ask, and have a friend ask you these questions at home and before the show. Listen to your answers. It is important to rehearse out loud so that you remember your answers in your "mind's ear" rather than just in your "mind's eye." That way, when you are under the lights and feel the tension of the interview, you will hear what you say and immediately recognize that you got it right or not.

Think about the messages you want the viewers or listeners to receive. Decide in advance what key points you want to convey, and then plan to include them. A clear objective will help you keep the initiative during the interview.

Watch the program in advance of your appearance. Watch it more than once, if possible. Get a feel for the interviewer's style and interests. Determine whether or not your interview will be brief or lengthy, restricted to a single issue or wide-ranging.
Will you appear alone or share the platform? To what type of audience is the program focused? Can you use visuals?

If possible, speak briefly to the interviewer in advance. This will help confirm your understanding of the situation. Also, understand the program's audience. Is it largely made up of women? If so, try to appeal to women when discussing topics or answering questions.
Anticipate the questions you might be asked. Pretend Matt Lauer of NBC-TV's Today show is about to interview you. First, remember that this is the media and they (and their viewers) are people who are expecting to be entertained. Talking in a friendly, upbeat manner is very important. This is not a patient consultation. Think about what you would ask if you were the interviewer. Pay special attention to potentially sensitive areas. Then formulate your answers. Decide not only how you will respond to each question but also how you can use it as a bridge to your communications objective.

You are not presenting at a medical meeting. You are talking to a broad range of people. You are talking to the public. Find ways to answer negative questions on a positive, upbeat note. Make a special effort to compose concise replies to technical questions and express those answers in easy-to-understand, layperson's language. Avoid slang.


On the set, you will usually be seated next to, or opposite, the interviewer. At first, this may seem unnaturally close, but on camera it looks very natural. Resist the urge to back away when the interviewer leans forward. If you do, that will look awful from the viewer's point of view.
During the interview, look at the interviewer throughout the segment. Do not stare at the studio camera or the floor. Most times, you will be sitting. Do not cross your arms in front of you. This creates a barrier between you and the viewer, or it makes you look arrogant. Rest your arms casually on the arms of the chair or on your lap. This projects a relaxed, comfortable, and self-assured look.

If you ever need to stand, let your arms hang at your sides. This will feel awkward, but on camera it will look fine.

As much as possible, keep your legs uncrossed—or crossed at the ankle—or else you risk looking a little rumpled on camera. Or, as I mentioned earlier, you risk showing too much leg.
Be conscious of your movements. In particular, do not sway back and forth or side to side in your chair. It is a nervous movement, and that's just how it will come across to the viewer.
Often, there will be a monitor off to the side of the set where you can glance and check for your posture and position. Check yourself just before you go on the air. Whatever you do, avoid glancing at the monitor repeatedly during the interview. Otherwise, you will look distracted.
Finally, refrain from standing up until the entire interview or your segment of it has been completed. Then lean forward and shake hands with the host/interviewer and end with as pleasant a closing expression as you can make.

The more you consider yourself to be an asset to a news- or interview-based television magazine program, the better you will become at the interview process.

The goal of becoming a good medical resource to television shows is to get invited back in the future. Many news stories that appear today in both print and electronic media stand a good chance of being transferred to the media outlet's Web site. This will double your exposure and can lead to viral media. Sounds scary, doesn't it? Sounds like an illness. However, viral media is good for you and your practice because it remains within the Internet "buzz" network, generating viewer interest and spreading your message.

Therefore, when on camera keep your head up, stay focused, look sharp, pay attention to the environment and, as they say in Hollywood, "Lights! Camera! Action!" Enjoy your celebrity status.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Seven Steps to Economic Survival

The first step is an honest analysis of where you want your practice to go in 2009

For more than 20 years, I have worked with hundreds of aesthetic physicians to help them build a better business through public relations, marketing, and consulting. My clients and I have survived at least three recessions prior to the current one, and have realized that each one brings a new set of challenges as well as opportunities.

Focus on the opportunities, and the results can be excellence in all areas of your life, especially during a down economy.

In the current fast-paced, high-stakes, competitive medical environment, looking at your practice from a "business" point of view will provide enormous benefit.

I have developed a seven-step system that can help you gain clarity and equip you with skills to navigate this new economy. By exploring various alternatives to your current methods, you will feel an increase in motivation, have a higher degree of accountability within the practice, find a greater focus, develop a clearer sense of direction, identify and enhance personal strengths, identify and eliminate/minimize practice weaknesses, have increased effectiveness and confidence, see a higher level of organization and structure, realize the ability for greater earning potential, and (take a deep breath now) still find time for family and friends.

To do this, you need to make a commitment to yourself and to your personal success, surround yourself with a strong team who understands what you want to achieve, develop a vision of your future, assess your current reality, develop a solid strategy, initiate new public relations and marketing programs, and learn how to maintain that success.

Let's start by finding a moment of uninterrupted time so that you can sit down with a pen and paper and begin a brief analysis of yourself, your practice, and where you want to take it.


If you have ever traveled the London Underground, you will recognize this phrase. It is used to let travelers know about the slight gap between the station platform and the train—and you had better not fall in.

The same is true of your practice. Between "what you have" and "what you want" is a gap. The first step toward practice success is to identify this gap and how to safely cross it.

Most of us lack something—money, time, energy, quality staff, location, adequate space, technology, a business plan, team spirit, etc.

Start your reevaluation process by doing a practice assessment. Find your gap. When doing an assessment, consider the following areas:

  • Personal effectiveness;
  • Practice leadership;
  • Staff leadership;
  • Marketing needs;
  • Sales programs;
  • Team ability;
  • Time spent on superior skill;
  • How supportive is your environment;
  • Organization;
  • Finances;
  • Personal health and well-being; and
  • Interoffice communication.


Although none of us need a crystal ball to tell us that 2009 might be a little tough, it will take some insight on your part to develop a personal vision.

Literally, what that vision amounts to is—to paraphrase the well-known cliché—what you see is what you will probably get.

Your vision might be to take your practice from reconstructive surgery cases to 100% cosmetic surgery cases. It might be to add a medical spa to an already successfully practice. Or it might even be the fact that you want to recreate your business as one that supports your lifestyle and allows more time for friends, family, and for travel. Whatever it is, it is all yours and nobody else's.

This vision can be as big and colorful as you want it to be. Write down your vision of you and your future, and then go back to it the next day and write it again. Rewrite it until it is the perfect vision of what you want to create. Once you can look at it objectively, you can determine just how you are going to create this vision of your revitalized practice.


Taking your own "business temperature" is not the easiest thing to do. Many of us are in denial about current situations, are operating out of fear, or are too overwhelmed with daily minutiae to want to find the time to face the facts.

However, in order to be successful, survive in a failing economy, and be the best that you can be under these circumstances, you will have to take out that thermometer, make a diagnosis, and write yourself a prescription for success.

In general, once you take out the thermometer and read it, things will not be as bad as they might seem. You will begin to see the opportunities that are placed in front of you every day.

By doing the personal practice assessment first, you should have a clearer view of your current reality. When I have gone through this phase with a physician, it repeatedly amazed me how many of their open-ended and incomplete projects were holding them back.

Armed with the introspective analysis, you can decide which of these projects are worthwhile (if any) and let go of the ones that are going nowhere. This gives us fresh ground to begin to build toward success.


Developing a strategy for your practice and implementing it can be likened to an architect creating a blueprint and then watching as the house is built.

Your strategy should include long- and short-term goals—that is, 30-, 60- and 90-day measurable action plans on the part of you and your team. This includes daily action items that should be discussed in (preferably weekly) staff meetings.

As well as including overall practice goals, your strategy should also include financial needs and financial growth opportunities, staffing needs, role designations, ideal marketing budgets and outlets, and, of course, time off for you so you can regenerate.

It is easy to build surgery and consultation time into the weekly schedule, but not as easy to include time for business building, planning, implementation meetings, creativity, sales goals, and other assessments (including the occasional round of golf) that are critical to the health and future success of the practice.

Most of us spend our days working "in" the business rather than "on" the business, when we should really divide our time between both.


Until you implement a strategy, you don't actually know if it's going to work. Of course, you can follow the example of others or copy things they have done, but don't forget that this is your vision that you are creating and there is not a one-size-fits-all rule here.

Making fundamental choices to change your life may seem risky. Making grandiose ideas come to life seems risky, too, but the payoff can be tremendously lucrative and free you to enjoy life the way in which you want.

The riskiest thing you can do in 2009 is to do nothing. Inertia is not going to help you or your practice survive the current economy. Get proactive about your practice's success—your enthusiasm and high spirits will ignite excitement, not just in you but among your staff, too.


There really is nothing mysterious behind implementing a solid public relations and marketing plan. However, in an economy that is in recession you have to stop wasting time and money on hiring the wrong people or thinking that you can do it all yourself.

"You keep doing what you do best—surgery," I tell my clients, "and I will keep doing what I do best—PR and marketing." Allowing professionals to handle your marketing tasks will, for most physicians, be the best approach. A minority of physicians have successfully run a practice and also spent the time necessary to adequately market themselves and their practice. Most don't know where to start, though.

In my case, all of my clients are holding steady with practice revenues, are continuing to see themselves on television news shows, and are regularly interviewed by the media.

Implementing a sound PR and marketing plan requires a strategy that is separate from your business-building strategy. Also, you should surround yourself with people who can create a highly creative campaign that gets attention.

Public relations remains the most credible and cost-effective way to promote a practice. Appearances on television and articles written about you in newspapers and magazines offer a third-party endorsement that simple advertising and Internet promotion cannot do for you.

Now is the best time to evaluate everything you use to market your practice, from logos and stationery to brochures and your Web site, as well as advertising and branding, and events.


Just as when James Bond takes that final leap looking battered, tired, and dusty—and we think this must be the end of him—he always comes out looking suave and debonair and ready for the next adventure.

As with Commodore Bond, you need to learn how to emerge from a scuffle, such as the current economy, and keep the "edge."

This translates into keeping your name in lights and in the forefront of your patients' minds, and maintaining a thriving practice.

The only way to do all those things successfully is to be vigilant about your success. While maintaining your growing success will not take as much of your time as your initial "gear up to success," you should be constantly monitoring your overall business goals and day-to-day milestones during your weekly staff meetings. In this way, you can keep a close eye on sales, budgets, and spending; as well as return on investment.

Don't ignore intangibles such as staff attitudes and your own quality of leadership, and take the global and local temperature of the aesthetic medicine industry.

Friday, March 13, 2009

10 Ways to Maximize Your Time!

1. Starting your day 15 minutes earlier each day, can add an extra 30 more minutes of productivity.

2. Get rid of distractions. Schedule times to check cellular phone and email messages. Do not

keep checking them every 5 minutes.

3. Make lists and take notes. None of us has a perfect memory.

4. Plan ahead. Spend the last 10 minutes of today, planning for tomorrow.

5. Group similar task together. i.e. phone calls, filing, report writing, etc.

6. Do the 2 minute tasks FIRST. It will make you feel like you are getting through your "to do" list faster and the day will seem less overwhelming.

8. Organize, organize, organize. Do I need to say more?

9. Regulate your daily responsibilities and set a time limit on each one.

10. Use shortcuts when you can, but not in a way that can negatively impact the end result.

Friday, March 6, 2009

How to Impress The Press!

1. Pick up the phone. Don't hide behind emails. Developing relationships is key.

2. Have your "Top 5 Things I Want To Say" list in front of you.

3. Don't sound like a telemarketer. Learn as much as you can about the reporter you are about to call.

4. Learn the "beat" of the reporter.

5. Make sure your Press Releases and Media Kit are up-to-date.

6. During conversation, take the time to note personal comments, i.e they like to travel. It will help build future rapport.

7. Know your stuff. Don't call on things you don't fully understand.

8. Make sure your contact list is up to date.

9. If they ask you to call back at a specific time, do so. And not a minute later.

10. Ask what their deadline is.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Seven Deadly Media Sins

Over the past 20 years or so, my public relations firm has worked extensively in the plastic surgery industry alongside other business industries. During that time, we have placed many physicians on television. Now, with the popularity of shows such as Dr. 90210 and I Want a Famous Face, more physicians than ever are enjoying Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame.” However, when the media’s huge appetite for plastic surgery stories is combined with surgeons who have been trained to perform surgery rather than act, the results can sometimes be less than enjoyable –or expected- for the reporter or producer and for the physician. These are real stories based on real-life incidents retold to me by members of the media about surgeons with whom they have worked. (Not surgeons that I have worked with.) I can hear you saying, “I would never do that!”-but these surgeons did. You probably don’t even know who these surgeons are-or do you?

1) Don’t change your surgical techniques midstream. Whereas learning new techniques and surgical skills is a must for any surgeon, practicing those new skills for the first time is generally daunting to most-and it is not something you want to do on national television. Luckily for Dr. X, this was something he learned during a taped interview rather than a live one. While filming a segment for a national television show, Dr. X-who was demonstrating a new facelift technique-commented while a patient was bleeding profusely, “I usually don’t do it this way. I just learned this technique last week.” The producer was ready to pack up his equipment right there and then!

2) Make sure your equipment works. This holds true for any new equipment purchases. Recently, a Chicago-based producer told me about a surgeon who had bragged about being the “only” surgeon in his area to obtain a new laser for liposuction. Of course, the producer wanted to have the surgeon on his show as soon as possible-but he didn’t expect that the surgeon would not have at least tried the laser a few times before going live on the morning news. It turned out to be a complete mess because the laser was not working properly, replacement fibers were not available, and the surgeon did not have any patient testimonials of his own yet. Not only did the surgeon look completely incompetent on the air, he also jeopardized the opportunity to ever be invited back on the television show again.

3) ”Let me do that shoot again, please.” A rather handsome, suave, and debonair young surgeon has really been enjoying the media attention he has received since relocating to Beverly Hills, Calif-so much so that he believes he is not only the “star” of the show on which he appears, but also it’s director. Recently, a producer friend of mine told me “that” was the last time she would work with this man. Apparently, the crew spent more time reshooting the surgeon at various angles so they could get his “good side” than they spent actually filming the patient and the procedure. While all of us want to look our best, especially because the camera is generally not kind, remember that the purpose of the shoot is to gain valuable media exposure for your practice regarding your surgical skills-which are shown through patient results. If you would prefer to spend more time telling notable movie producer Cecil B. DeMile that you are ready for your “close-up”-as actress Gloria Swanson did in the movie Sunset Boulevard – you might want to consider switching careers.

4) Nod, nod, wink, wink- keep it to yourself. When you invite a television crew into your office to film a procedure, remember that they will walk away with more than a glimpse into your life. Ensure that they leave with a true picture of you, your core values, and your professional expertise. That includes not flirting with the reporter. No matter how innocent a joke may seem, in this day and age it can easily be interpreted as a form of sexual harassment that might not necessarily land you in hot water, but will seriously harm your reputation. And trust me, on this front I have heard it all: From the producer of a national morning show who, after flying from New York, elected to permanently shelve a 4-hour facelift shoot and then added the surgeon’s name to an internal blacklist for others to see; to a female staff reporter for an internationally televised entertainment show who almost filed a lawsuit against the show after filming a breast implant story, during which the surgeon repeatedly made silly jokes and off-color remarks. Remember that no matter how casual and friendly members of the media seem, they are doing a job. It is always better to keep things professional.

5) Is the patient really a patient? Marketing 101 teaches us to find out who our competitors are. In the realm of plastic surgery television shows, not only do your competitors know who you are, they also know who works for you. A successful Miami plastic surgeon who was scrambling to find patient for a story on fat injection to the hands for the local ABC affiliate innocently thought, “Oh well; we will just use Jane, our office manager. She’s a good candidate for this procedure.” And she was! Her hands looked fantastic afterward. However, when the story aired during a news program later that week; an extremely jealous competitor called the station manager questioning the surgeon’s integrity and stating that viewers should be made aware when a surgeon uses his or her own staff members rather then unbiased patients to show the results of his or her work. All I can say is that the surgeon was never invited back on that news program again.

6) Mum’s the word. Don’t be a gossip! Although I am glad to say that this is not something I hear often, I have heard and witnessed it firsthand. Don’t gossip about your competition to a reporter! Please remember that when a television crew or writer from a newspaper comes into your office to interview you, they are also-and always- on the look-out for other stories. As friendly and innocent as they appear this is still a business situation, and sometimes getting the “scoop” or “dirt” on another plastic surgeon can make for a great future story. I’m a firm believer that what goes around comes around. So, as tempted as you may be to divulge a little tidbit of information that may make you appear to be “in the know,” remember that someone else might be just as tempted to reveal a little something about you.

7) Who’s the Diva now? We all know who the divas of the television talk shows are. However, the aesthetic industry has a few divas of its own-men and women- who have upset quite a few reporters and show hosts in their time. One particular Dr Diva always seems to think the show will wait for him. Believe me when I say it will not. You must make it to the show on time, and allow yourself ample time to find a parking spot or the limousine drop-off area. Another Dr Diva believes she has every right to share make-up artists and have the luxury of several wardrobe “try-ons” before sitting down for an interview. Nope. That is not the case. I encourage you to bring an extra shirt or blouse, or suit jacket, in case of accidental spills, but you should arrive in what you expect to wear on the show. And please do you best to act and look like a surgeon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interview with PSP Insider

I was recently interviewed by a magazine called PSP Insider. They asked various questions about being a PR Expert that I thought you might find of interest as follows:

What Techniques do you use to ”plant” stories in prestigious media outlets?
I have been involved in media relations for over 20 years. While I rely on our media contacts to help determine the validity of a story or pitch, I also keep a keen eye on the market and can generally assess trends before they happen. This keeps my firm on the cutting edge of news and has made us a direct and qualified resource to media across the nation and around the world

How do you come up with ideas for your marketing campaigns?
I treat each client as a completely individual business, not just another plastic surgery practice. Everyone has a story to tell, and it is up to my team to help a client determine what that story is. Some of our medical clients are involved in research or clinical studies and reach out to TPI because they are aware of the value of what they are doing. Others know they require PR and marketing assistance and need us to help them determine, set and reach their goals. We do this by reviewing all past marketing efforts, discussing goals and expectations, meeting with staff, and analyzing local demographics when necessary. This allows me to provide a critical review to the client so that my team and I can initiate a well-designed and thorough PR program.

What are some things that business owners should not do that would negatively affect their practice growth?
Do not become or remain stagnant in their approach to growth. Most small business owners spend more time working “in” the business (paying bills and dealing with staff and equipment issues), rather than working “on” the business (setting goals, creating market share, and developing ideas and alternate revenue sources). Another thing I see business owners doing is spending money on things that have a slow return on investment. For instance, buying paid television advertising rather than PR is often a waste of time and money. By the time a television commercial has been created and placed on the station during peak viewing hours, they may find that they have spent thousands of dollars (and hours) with little response. However, a PR Expert could have them placed on several top news programs in the same amount of time and with far greater consumer response.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Making Your Business News Worthy!

The art of being a great PR manager is having the ability to find news in the smallest and most obscure places. For some of us, this “art” has made us a good living. In my opinion, news is everywhere. You just have to know where to look. And once you find it, you have to know how to cultivate it, package it and pitch it.

Now finding news in your business is up to you to create it. You might create it with a new product launch, a new application, developing a new procedure out of an old one, a new hire, a company move, a fund raiser or event, a philanthropic donation. There are a million ways to create media awareness for your business.

Finding the news is usually something we can all do. Developing and communicating that story is often the tricky part. I have a PR system that works for my clients and my business and I hope that this system will work for you.

1. Generally your first communication with a reporter is either through a press release, an e-mail or a phone call. If you email or call first, the reporter will most likely ask that you send a press release. I always write and hone my press releases first to make sure that I am prepared. Once you are a media pro and have developed tons of media contacts it is easier to just pick up the phone. However, until you have developed that trust and rapport with the press, stick to the basics. Produce a well-written, interesting and timely press release. Your press release must have a catchy headline, should be double-spaced and not be more than two pages in length. Also make sure to date it and have your contact number.

2. If you haven’t already built a targeted media base, then you must do this. Depending upon the type of press you want to obtain, this list can be made up of all local and national contacts. Some stories are great for TV because they provide a visual. If you think that your news story is of a visual quality, then try to get it on your local TV. If not, you might be better of sticking to print, radio and internet media.

3. Once you have developed your media target list, send the press release. In this day and age, I still send snail mail, as well as email. That way you can be sure to have reached all of your targets. Do your homework too. Don’t just send your press release to any editor at the local newspaper. Find out which editor or writer is most likely to find your story interesting. If you are a sportswear company, send your release to the Sports and the Lifestyle sections of the paper. If it is a health story, send it to the Health editor, etc.

4. When you first begin to contact the media, it is always good to go at it with the concept of developing relationships. You will find that the media can be your best friend if you provide them with good, up-to-date ideas and stories that help increase the ratings and readership of their respective outlet. You should also be aware of just how they work individually. For instance, one of our media contacts at KTLA TV in Los Angeles starts her day at 3 a.m. By the time we arrive to work at 8.30 a.m she is already out on location doing her show. Therefore, we have come to understand that she likes to receive all of her pitches in a Media Kit. The Media Kit should include the press release, any photos, brochures, samples, etc. She likes this kit to be sent via Federal Express. That way she knows that it is important. By doing things their way, you are stating that you understand that their time in valuable, and letting them know that your product/business is important enough to package to them in a way that will get their attention.

5. After you have written your press release, developed your media target list, compiled and distributed your materials and media kits, next comes follow up. It’s nice to think that the minute your press release or media kit arrives on a reporter’s desk that they will instantly call to interview you. It generally doesn’t happen that way. You have to call them. So be prepared with a bulleted pitch that outlines your key message points. Be certain to state your name, company and phone number twice if you reach voice mail.

6. If you are able to get a reporter or producer on the phone, introduce yourself and your company fully. Ask if this is a good time to talk. If you have talked or worked with them in the past, remind them. If you just saw a show or read an article that they wrote and you genuinely enjoyed it, let them know. Again, this is the basis of creating a relationship. Do not, however, sway away from the purpose of the call by making too much small talk. Then get right to the point of your call. Be prepared with what you are about to say. You might want to practice on a co-worker or in the mirror a few times before calling.

7. Follow up is always the hardest thing for any PR manager to do because it takes time, commitment, perseverance and, most of all, persuasion. Oh, the powers of persuasion. We have all heard it. At our agency we time activate our calls. Our system is such that within days of a mailing going out, if we have not heard from the press, we begin follow up. Our data management program is set so that a manager can go directly to the day’s scheduled phone calls, pull up the press release and script and begin to call. This is vital to the success of your PR program because managing your media contacts, leaving messages on voice mail, being persuasive on the call, scheduling to call them again in the future, all takes organization and commitment. Be certain that you and your team are doing this effectively.

8. Another effective method we use in our PR system is desk side briefings. Plan a day where you can schedule time to go to the offices of your local press contacts (we even do this with the Beauty Editors in New York) and sit down with them for 15 minutes. This gives you the opportunity to meet face to face (put a face with the name), personally deliver your Media Kit, discuss upcoming stories and ideas that might pertain to items already on the editorial calendar and develop a relationship there and then. For some, this kind of media networking is difficult at first but is well worth the time.

9. An event is always a great way to obtain a media presence and news coverage. We have a PR system for hosting an event. It starts with a Fact Sheet, Media Brief and a Press Release. Be certain to schedule these items well in advance of the event to make sure you get your company listed in local calendar schedules, to attempt to get pre-event coverage, as well as on site and post-event coverage.

10. Lastly, this is where you start all over again. Creating news coverage for your business should be an on-going activity within your company. If you develop your strategy, coordinate your events and activities and time activate your press release and follow up, you should be able to garner priceless media coverage for your business for years to come.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Marketing Begins with "Vision"

Results PR and Marketing Begins With “Vision”

If you are looking to “sell” your products or services through advertising, brochures, newsletters and PR, a successful result begins with more than just a good marketing strategy. It begins with a mission statement for a business and what I call a “vision.”

Creating a vision is a process to help you understand what it is that gets you out of bed each morning. Creating a vision is unique to every person. For some people it means building a bigger and better business; for others, the goal is to have the resources to allow more time off with friends and family. Once you identify your vision, it is important to share it with your staff so that the marketing becomes a team effort. Once your staff understand your vision, it will give them a sense of purpose and enable them to participate.

Tried, True Techniques
Whatever your vision, there are widely accepted marketing tools to help you reach your goals, here are a few suggestions:

- Good advertisements contain two elements: branding to convey the right message and a call to action to make the phone ring,.

- Your web site should be eye-catching, easy to locate and include options for customers to contact you via phone and email, as well as to subscribe to an electronic newsletters. A Web site should be more than just a shop window

- PR is the most credible and cost effective way to build a business. PR presents a higher image and lets you reach a more diverse target than advertising. It may not reach people as instantaneously as advertising and a story may be delayed because of other news. However, once the article or TV spot airs, you are perceived as “the best” at what you do because news story are more persuasive than straight advertising, and offers an endorsement not attainable through advertising.

- Other marketing tools you can offer includes brochures, newsletters, flyers, etc. and a message-on-hold system..

Now, in my opinion, all of these are necessary and none are more important than the other. It is just a matter of coordinating them in an effective and affordable way. My 7 Phase Business Building and Marketing System starts with Vision as it is the key ingredient to developing a successful business because it gives you a start and an end point.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Publicity, Productivity, Profitability

Publicity has fast become the most sought after form of promotion as the medium of television and print is proving to be a priceless source of free advertising. Publicity equals productivity and increased business profitability

With the media’s ever-increasing influence on public opinion, many business owners have discovered that publicity is a more discreet, credible, and effective way to increase customer awareness. It can help you take your business to the next level.

In most cases, a third-party endorsement from a reporter is as valuable as gold among the general public. You are perceived as the local authority and the foremost expert on the subject for which you are being quoted. Even if two sets of credentials are perfectly matched, it is the newsmaker that is viewed more favorably than the one who lines the advertising pages. Both are paid promotions, but the public has a tendency to distrust advertising, while they often believe what they see on TV and read in newspapers and magazines.

I have found over the years that most business owners have a different view as to how they want to be presented to the press and how the press responds to public relations efforts differs from state-to-state. Public relations tactics that might work in Los Angeles and New York, don’t always work in Chicago and Georgia. A savvy PR person will determine what is unique about you, your business, and how best to package you to the media.

While you are busy earning those dollars, you want to make certain that those dollars are stretched as far as possible when it comes to business promotion.

There are many ways you can obtain publicity. A new, proven surgical technique or skin enhancing treatment are always looked upon favorably by the press. Also, a consumer book, community speaking engagement, a public safety issue, new ways to make money or an industry trend are likely to secure valuable media exposure. Good PR brings with it a higher level of consumer awareness. It will also your existing customers that they made a good choice selecting YOU.

One of our client’s main goal was to place information about their new surgical technique into the hands of the most powerful in the business: Beauty Editors of national women’s magazines. Knowing that they were competing with Industry Goliaths, we chose to embark on a campaign that would stand out from the many stories these editors receive daily. We chose to hold a press conference in New York City that would not only offer products and hands-on demonstrations, but would also educate reporters on the science behind the technique. We designed a hand-made invitation that was personally delivered with a single fresh rose to each beauty contact in New York. By adding this simple, yet intimate approach, we were able to convince seventeen of the top beauty editors to take time out of their hectic schedules to attend this event. Of course we had to convince them that this new technique was worthy of a mention, however, all of them said it was the personal touch that motivated them to attend the event.

Of course, publicity is not the sole ingredient in a marketing campaign. A steady mix of all aspects of marketing is the key to ultimate business success. Publicity, however, often plays a strong role in creating consumer awareness, brand recognition and customer demand.

Who goes there?
While most people agree that publicity is a smart, image-building tool, it is commonly disputed as to whether you should pursue your own PR efforts, hire a PR professional, or appoint an office manager to handle the task.

Securing publicity involves a dedication of time, thoughtful planning, a unique concept, well-written press materials and contacts. Most news coverage is not by coincidence. Publicity is a detailed process aimed at attracting new business. I’ve had many people approach me and cynically tell me that securing media attention is a hopeless endeavor in their town. Their own PR efforts proved fruitless, and they can’t quite figure out why.

There are several reasons:
It is often impractical to seek publicity for yourself (although many of those we have trained in our studio in recent months are doing a good job of it on their own.). Most of the reporters we deal with are used to dealing with PR agents than heads of companies.
2. An office manager already has a full-time jobs keeping the business running smoothly. They will resent being given added responsibility that is out of the realms of their expertise. In addition, they generally do not have industry knowledge or understanding of the special media skills required to successfully generate publicity for the business.
3. Successful marketing is a full-time commitment requiring a consistent effort, not something that can be implemented every now and again.
4. Press materials must generate excitement and be concise. Although a CV is great to use as back-up, a brief bio will suffice. As most reporters generally give you about 10 seconds of their time, brevity is always best.

PR Professional Versus Publicist
Tom Cruise has a publicist because he is a movie-star. If you decide to take the PR path, you want to make sure you are hiring a PR professional that is going to view your business as an enterprise that must uphold a flawless reputation. Publicity does not happen overnight. It generally takes a couple of months before it begins to snowball. Be certain to hire a PR agent who understands your business and your company goals. You don’t want to spend the first few months of a retainer educating your PR person on the intricacies of your specialty. Here are a few questions you can ask:

1. Ask the agency to show you magazine clippings or TV interviews of stories they have placed.
2. After explaining what you do, ask them how they would promote you? What ideas have they gleaned from your conversation do they consider you newsworthy?
3. How many placements/interviews can you expect within your first year? If they cannot answer that, ask how many placements a typical client averages?
4. Who will be working on your account? Will it be the person selling you on the company, an account executive or an intern?
5. How often do they send new press materials out?
6. Will you be able to proof and approve press materials before they are mailed?

If an agency/PR professional is an established business with a proven track record, good references, and whose personality and ideals meet those of yours, you are most likely to embark upon a successful campaign and increase the bottom line.
Enjoy the Ride!

I'm going to be on Television...Now What?

I have provided public-relations services to plastic surgeons and other aesthetic medicine practitioners for over 20 years. During that time, I have come to realize that if a surgeon (or any business owner) is thrown into an interview “hot seat” unprepared, he or she may just get burned.

As many will agree, not a day goes by without the appearance of a news report regarding a new-or sometimes old- surgical technique or a patient’s personal story in the local or national media. As aesthetic surgery continues to grow in popularity, the news media’s demand for reputable and well-prepared experts in the field will also continue to increase.

To ensure that you are among those to whom media representatives run for advice, you must make sure you are properly prepared for a television interview. Here are some tips to help you stay ahead of the competition and keep up with an ever-demanding news media.

Getting Started:

Be an expert.
As a media resource, you must be the expert that consumers expect you to be. More than likely, you are being interviewed because you have exceptional knowledge and authority in a particular area or field. Therefore, a television interview is your opportunity to project yourself in a confident and professional manner.

As the interviewee, it is your job to provide viewers with expert knowledge and guidance about your area of expertise. The press, if used correctly, is an incredible tool that will help your practice grow at an incredible speed. If it is not handled properly, it will have the opposite effect.

Be selective. Some people who have the opportunity to appear on a television show are often dazzled by the prospect that in some miraculous way they will find fame and stardom. When my firm works with television shows in the entertainment industry, it is always our goal to create segments that will educate viewers and help them to perceive our clients as experts who can enable them to make better, more educated decisions about their surgical choices.

However, not all television shows will benefit your practice or are worthy of your presence. If a program is seeking a “freak show” element, or something overly sensational, we will often decline the interview.

Have a clear plan. To ensure that you are able to educate the audience efficiently, you must understand the reasons why you are being interviewed. Make sure that you and the show’s producer have clearly established what will be discussed during the interview.

Determine in advance three to six clear points that you would like to convey, write them down, and plan to include them during the interview. If possible, give the reporter a list of your key points in advance. Having a clear plan will help you keep your objective during the interview.

Do your homework. Take advantage of any time you may have before the interview, and do your homework about the show on which you are about to appear. If possible, watch the show and learn the format. This way, you will be able to anticipate how long your interview will last as well as how much time you will have to get your key points across.

While watching the show, you should be “preinterviewing” the interviewer. Get a feel for the reporter’s interview style and how he or she asks questions. This will guide you in knowing how to format your response to each question you are asked.

Also, by viewing the show before the interview, you will be able to see whether the interviewer tends to be aggressive so that you will not be caught off guard during the interview. For instance, Ellen DeGeneres always plays some kind of word game or mind game with guests who appear on her program.

Prepare your responses beforehand. To better prepare your answers for the interview, pretend you are the interviewer. Anticipate the questions that he or she may ask you about the topic, and decide how you will respond.

Pay close attention to potentially sensitive areas. Anticipating these areas will prepare you for opportunities to finish a negative question with a positive answer. You do not have to be afraid of mentioning the negatives, but always stress the positives.

Practice, practice, practice. Once you have predetermined the questions you might potentially be asked, there is no reason to enter an interview situation “cold turkey”. Take whatever additional time you have before the interview, and rehearse.

Although you may be confident about the key points you would like to communicate, you may find yourself out of your comfort zone once the lights flash and the camera starts rolling. Rehearsing with a friend or a colleague and having him or her ask you questions will better prepare you for the actual interview.

While rehearsing, be aware of answering questions too technically. Remember, as an expert in your field, your overall goal is to educate the audience-in this case, the general public or the consumer. Although you have a complete understanding of what you are explaining, remember that this is news to the viewer. Speak clearly, and define what you mean. Avoid using medical jargon whenever possible, and try to use words that will simplify your message. You don’t want to confuse the audience in any way.

Your message is not only what you say, but how you say it. Therefore, practice responding to questions in front of a mirror. Pay close attention to your facial gestures as you talk, as well as your hand and body movements. What you think looks natural may come across as awkward and may be distracting to the audience during an interview.

On with the Show

Dress appropriately. After doing your homework, you are ready for your interview. Before you leave for the studio, make sure you are dressed appropriately. You are being looked to as an expert in your field, and you need to look the part. Dressing appropriately will help the audience take you seriously.

If you are being interviewed in a television studio, dress professionally. Stay away from busy ties and bright clothing, which may distract the audience. The best clothing choice for men during a television interview is still a conservative blue or gray suit and a light blue dress shirt. Women should wear a similarly conservative suit or dress.

I also suggest that you bring an additional change of clothes. One of my clients spilled coffee down the front of his shirt while waiting in the green room of NBC-TV’s Today show minutes before he was due to go on. Luckily, he had a fresh shirt with him that he could easily change into. Also, men should be shaved and have a good haircut.

If you are being interviewed in your office instead of a television studio, you should dress like the surgeon that you are. Generally, you should wear your lab coat (preferably with your name professionally silk-screened or embroidered on it) or physician scrubs. Although you may think this is your one time to shine and would like to wear your new designer suit, that would look unnatural-except during a consultation interview.