By Aimee Romero
People base their ideas about doctors on two things – their personal experiences with their own doctors and what they see fictional doctors do in movies and on TV.
This makes shaping people’s ideas about your practice tricky because you are neither their doctor nor are you the star of Grey’s Anatomy. You can’t control their previous medical experiences or their cinematic experiences.
So what can you control that will shape your target audience’s opinion of you and your practice? How can you make your way in to their lives and minds in a manner that will be both positive and memorable?
One tried and true method of earning positive media coverage is to tap in to the most universal expectation people have of a “doctor” and make it your calling card. That expectation is the fundamental role of a doctor – to heal the sick. Forget the money and the insurance claims; a doctor’s duty is to serve humankind, regardless of profit.
People seek out medical care because they have a medical need and often that need goes unmet because the cost of treatment is too high for the patient to pay. For so many patients, these stories of suffering and years of neglect make compelling human interest stories. We want to see these people receive the help they need and a doctor who steps in is not only generous, but is also making a smart business decision. Branding yourself as a generous doctor will attract patients and referrals and help will grow your practice.
Pro bono medical care is the most memorable and easily understood “doctor story” that the media can tell a mass audience. It reinforces what people want to believe about professional caregivers and doctors in particular. By simply donating your services to a deserving patient once a year, you can build a powerful image as “the doctor who cares and sacrifices for the greater good.” That is the kind of powerful image that sticks in people’s minds forever.
It doesn’t matter what your specialty is, you can make a positive pro bono story out of anything that your practice can donate. Whether it’s life-saving surgery, or something as simple as donating old copiers and laptops to a local school, it shows that your practice cares about the community.
Even plastic surgeons do not have to be stuck with the image of Nip/Tuck or Dr. 90210. Reconstructive work on accident survivors, cosmetic dental work and other types of reparations make very effective PR outreach, especially when the cosmetic work is life-changing for the patient.
Finding the story that will build your image is actually rather simple. Remember why you were attracted to medicine and why you find it fulfilling and use your skills to change someone’s life and make the world smile.