Archive for May, 2012
Signs your practice needs an agency
You’re used to doing it all – putting in long hours to build a successful practice. A full-service advertising and public relations firm can help take your business to the next level. But are you ready to hand off such a vital part of your business to an outside company? The following six signs are clues you are ready to take the leap.
Your neighbor’s teenage daughter is your webmaster
Maintaining a professional, dynamic website for your practice is a necessity. Just about everyone “knows a guy who is good with computers,” but do you really want to trust your business to the kid next door who is failing sophomore English class? An agency has the staff and expertise to keep your website up to date – even during finals week.
You think Twitter is a dirty word
Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare… one way or another, social media is here to stay. Super Bowl 46 generated 12.2 million social media comments, up almost 600 percent from last year’s game. Staying on top of the latest social media trends and lingo is incredibly time consuming, but a smart businessperson goes where his or her customers are. Working with an agency allows you to focus on your practice while someone else sorts out the “tweets,” “likes” and “check-ins.”
You want to be on TV
You keep seeing doctors interviewed for news stories and think to yourself, “I’m much more accomplished, authoritative and attractive than that person. How come no one is interviewing me?” All kidding aside, when you are featured as an expert source in a news story, you receive an invaluable third-party endorsement from the reporter and the news organization. A good agency has established contacts in the media world – reporters come to them for sources and story ideas.
Your crisis communication plan is incomplete
If your first response is, “What crisis communication plan?” you DEFINITELY need to hire an agency. Just like you carry fire and malpractice insurance even though you hope to never use it, a solid communication plan needs to be in place well before a crisis happens. An agency will help you develop your plan and be by your side when the worst happens. News travels fast, bad news travels even faster. An agency will help you prepare for, and mitigate the damage of, a crisis.
Your business has grown and changed but your logo has not
Your logo and marketing materials have served you well thus far, but it might be time for a change. Fortune 500 companies, well-known brands and professional sports teams all update their brands and you should too. A graphic designer can help take your business to the next level by creating materials that catch the eye of your target market. A strong visual presentation communicates your message to patients. The right design will help you cut through the clutter and get your practice noticed in a crowded marketplace.
You want to advertise
Coca-Cola spends billions of dollars each year on advertising. Why? Because it works! Whether you are looking to place an ad in the local newspaper, start a national advertising campaign, or something in between, a full-service agency will help get the most out of your advertising budget. Agencies are in the trenches daily, negotiating better rates than you can get on your own. In addition, an experienced media buyer will help you select the appropriate outlets to reach your target audience.
“Save yourself a huge headache and your time and go somewhere else!” “I don’t care that this place is just a mile from my house. I’ll travel 15 miles just for better service if I have to.”“Employees sneer and make rude gestures behind each other’s backs, very unprofessional.”
Sounds harsh, but these are real reviews of Southern Nevada doctors floating around the Internet right now.
In a perfect world, doctors wouldn’t be subjected to negative comments by one-time patients, long-time clients, complete strangers or friends of former patients on a digital quest for revenge.
But, this is America.
Freedom of speech is an American societal pillar and patients are taking that freedom beyond “OMG, this doctor is totally bad” verbal conversations within their circle of friends and having “OMG, this doctor is totally bad” conversations on the web, reaching a much larger audience.
The majority of doctor reviews, even when laced with severe criticism and fiery language, are well within the law and within site regulations. Some patients simply have bad experiences that don’t meet their individual expectations and want to assure that new and existing patients know exactly what to expect.
In reaction to negative reviews, some doctors have tried to file lawsuits for defamation, but quickly realize that defamation is incredibly difficult to prove, especially if the doctor is considered to be a “public figure.” Courts generally side with those voicing an opinion, unless the opinion is significantly fabricated or completely false.
Some doctors respond to reviews with just as much anger and expletives as their reviewers. Angry rebuttals by doctors typically lead to a nasty, drawn-out, publicly-visible conversation and stray from the professionalism associated with the medical industry.
So, what do you do to protect your online reputation on doctor review sites?
According to Lindsay Alford, social media specialist for MassMedia, the worst thing you can do is be absent from the online conversation.
“It is essential for practices to participate in social media and monitor online reviews regularly,” said Alford. “Either you manage your online reputation, or your patients and competitors will do it for you. Monitoring reviews helps you identify customer care concerns and maintain a quality health care experience.”
Most doctors’ names appear on Yelp, Vitals.com, RateMDs, AngiesList and/or HealthGrades already. Most doctors also have a handful of reviews attached to his/her name, some positive and some negative.
A doctor’s first inclination when responding to an adverse review may be to draft a wordy, negative rant. In reality, doctors should do the exact opposite.
“The best way to respond to a negative review is to keep your response simple and positive,” said Alford. “Listen first, engage second and talk last. Your patients want to be heard. They also want to know you care.”
In an effort to personalize patient concerns, doctors should also suggest taking negative feedback out of the public spotlight and into personal conversation.
“Remember, other patients, potential patients, and future partners are observing,” said Alford. “Also, once you have resolved a concern, kindly ask your patient to retract or update their review.”
Social reviews carry immense weight on Google and other heavyweight search engines like Bing and Yahoo. The pure amount of written content on social review sites is enough to carry the sites and the reviews right to the top of search results. Thus, it’s important to collaborate with social review sites to keep your contact information and clinic address updated and accurate.
Dr. Stephen J. Portz, director of cardiology for HealthCare Partners of Nevada and a recently awarded “Top Doc” by Vegas Seven magazine, joined HealthCare Partners earlier this year after serving patients at a Las Vegas clinic for eight and a half years. When he joined HealthCare Partners, Dr. Portz moved his practice to a new, state-of-the-art facility at the medical office building at Southern Hills Hospital.
To notify his patients of his clinic change, Dr. Portz sent out 12,000 letters with his new address, but some patients were still finding his old address in online search results. Portz, who sees 25 to 30 patients daily, learned the importance of keeping information updated online.
“At first, I assumed that everything would automatically be changed with my transition,” said Portz. “In reality, I had to work with sites to update my address and contact information and it did take some time. It is important for patients to have the right phone number and address, or else they will not find you.”
In addition to keeping information updated, doctors must develop a social review strategy. Sites like HealthGrades and Yelp are the new frontier for referrals, recommendations and communal reputation. Doctors must explore this important channel to their advantage by monitoring social reviews daily, responding to negative reviews with professionalism and regularly generating positive reviews from their clients.
LAS VEGAS (May 3, 2012) – Paula Yakubik, managing partner of MassMedia Healthcare Marketing, a full-service public relations, advertising and marketing firm, recently announced that the agency has secured five new clients including Westfield Nevada Eye and Ear, Matt Smith Physical Therapy, Steljes Cardiology, United Blood Services (UBS) and Diagnostic Center of Medicine.
“MassMedia has a proven track record of helping leading health care companies build their unique brands and reach their customer bases,” Yakubik said. “Delivering a coordinated message through advertising and public relations is more important than ever, and our creative team is ready to help our new clients.”
Westfield Eye Center and Nevada Eye & Ear recently merged to create Westfield Nevada Eye and Ear. With 19 physicians at six locations in Las Vegas and Pahrump, Westfield Nevada Eye and Ear provides integrated vision services and ear, nose and throat care.
Matt Smith Physical Therapy has served the Las Vegas community since 1984. With 13 locations across the valley, Matt Smith Physical Therapy has grown to become the premier provider of rehabilitative services in Las Vegas. In April, the company began offering balance/vestibular therapy to treat patients with dizziness, vertigo, motion sensitivity and lightheadedness.
Steljes Cardiology is a full service cardiology practice serving the Henderson/Green Valley area serving patients since 2004. Dr. Steljes is one of a handful of cardiologists nationwide who has integrated a sleep medicine program into his practice. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in the subspecialty of sleep medicine.
United Blood Services is a nonprofit organization that exists to make a difference in people’s lives by inspiring individuals to donate blood. More than 15 million people in 18 states depend on United Blood Services’ generous volunteer blood donors to make sure lifesaving blood is available when and where it is needed. There are five United Blood Services locations across Nevada.
The Diagnostic Center of Medicine, in practice since 1977, is one of the largest internal medicine and family medicine groups in Southern Nevada. With three clinics and 17 doctors in Las Vegas and Henderson, Diagnostic Center of Medicine serves as the primary health care provider for over 50 PPO insurers, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and hundreds of private carriers.
MassMedia Healthcare Marketing is a division of MassMedia Corporate Communications. Founded in 1997, MassMedia is a leading public relations, advertising, government affairs and marketing agency whose knowledge, strategic insights and innovative programs help drive strong corporate reputations.
Healthcare division clients include HealthCare Partners of Nevada, Women’s Cancer Center of Nevada, Nevada Spine Clinic, Good Night Pediatrics, Humana, and Nevada Heart and Vascular Center
To learn more about MassMedia Healthcare Marketing, visit www.massmediahealth.com.
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Crises range from a natural tragedy to a startling accident to a deep-rooted scandal involving a single employee. Given the political nature of health care and the delicacy involved with patient care, a crisis can arise from any facet of a medical organization.
Susan G. Komen was recently the subject of a national political controversy after its decision to retract funding from one of its most prominent beneficiaries. We sat down with Stephanie Kirby, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Southern Nevada affiliate, to learn more about how the national controversy impacted the local affiliate, how the organization responded to the incident, and how the local affiliate is moving forward in 2012.
Tell me about yourself and your role with Susan G. Komen.
I began volunteering for the Southern Nevada Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2002. My mother had died from breast cancer in June 2000 after a recurrence. She fought incredibly hard, but it had spread to her brain. Radiation to her brain took a toll on her and it was hard for her to regain her skills. I returned to Las Vegas after caring for her for two months and she died three weeks later. I felt lost and sad and it wasn’t until I finally looked up one day and saw the sign for Susan G. Komen that things began to change. I walked into the Komen office and never looked back. In 2009, I became the executive director and I honestly love going to work every day. Words cannot begin to describe the phenomenal volunteers I am surrounded by on a regular basis.
What is the overall mission of the organization in women’s health care?
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures. Seventy-five percent of every dollar raised stays in the community to support organizations that are in line with our mission and can provide direct services to those affected by breast cancer. Services include screening, education, support and treatment. We have always focused on women and men who are largely uninsured or underinsured with less access to adequate care. The remaining 25 percent is directed to our national research and grants program which is focused on finding cures. Millions of dollars have been put into research and we are ultimately doing what we do in order to find the cures. There are several types of breast cancer and perhaps even some that have yet to be discovered, which is why we say we need to find the cures, plural.
What are your marketing initiatives and goals this year?
The marketing initiatives and goals for 2012 include coordinating and executing a successful Race for the Cure on May 5. We would also like to expand our reach into the rural areas of Southern Nevada. Our service area includes six counties: Clark, Lincoln, Nye, Esmeralda, White Pine and Mineral. Some of these areas are several hours away from any kind of health care facility. We would like to strengthen our relationships with the medical community in these areas. In a time when resources are stretched thin, collaboration can be a wonderful way to reach a larger audience. We are also focused on creating new partnerships in the community with organizations and individuals who can work side by side with us to make sure the services, we feel are necessary in the community, actually exist.
Recently, Susan G. Komen received some negative attention on a national level with regards to its relationship with Planned Parenthood. How did the national incident impact the affiliate locally?
February brought a tremendous amount of negative attention to Susan G. Komen as an entire organization. There are 120 affiliates who work under the umbrella of the national office and, though we each have our own unique areas of the country, we all follow the same policies and regulations. The decision to discontinue the relationship with Planned Parenthood was made at a national level. It was a tremendous lapse in judgment and the decision was reversed. Apologies have been made, but the wake of confusion, anger and distrust is what remains. Out of the 120 affiliates that exist, 19 funded their local chapters of Planned Parenthood. The combined total of grant funding for a year for Planned Parenthood from those 19 affiliates is about $600,000. To put that in perspective, our affiliate granted out $725,000 in 2011. I am not attempting to minimize the partnership between our two organizations, but I think it is important for people to know the facts. Locally, we have not funded Planned Parenthood in a number of years. We do, however, provide them with educational materials, make referrals and work on committees to assure the population that we both serve has access to breast health care. The decision hit our affiliate, as well as almost every affiliate, extremely hard. I received hundreds of emails from people who felt we had turned our backs on low-income women. When the decision was reversed, I continued to receive emails and phone calls with negative messages from individuals who do not support Planned Parenthood and their initiatives. Those who were originally angry were glad to hear of the reversal but remained angry that it happened at all. We need to work to regain the trust of those who have believed in us for three decades.
What did you do at the local level immediately following the media incident and what are you doing to recover from it?
The first two days after the decision became public consisted of fielding calls and emails non-stop. Everything we were doing came to a screeching halt, with the exception of the calls from women who needed to know where they could go to get help…those calls do not stop. We released a statement to our supporters trying to [explain] a very confusing situation, which was difficult, as we were equally as confused. The following day, the decision was reversed and we released a letter to our supporters. The letter was taken well by some and not so well by others. Without separating our affiliate from our national office, I needed people to understand that our office had not changed one bit with the original decision nor the reversal. What has changed is the level of trust, as I mentioned above, and I am hopeful the community will give us another chance. It will take a willingness to speak openly and answer questions, which I have been doing since this situation started.
What marketing events and next steps are coming up for Susan G. Komen’s Southern Nevada affiliate?
We are very aware of the challenges that lie ahead, but that cannot stop our work to raise dollars to put back into our community to assist with access to care. Our 17th Annual Race for the Cure will take place on Saturday, May 5 in downtown Las Vegas. Our next grant cycle will begin in April with hundreds of thousands of dollars going right back to our community. We are collaborating with the Northern Nevada affiliate to make sure our entire state is represented and that our elected officials understand our mission. Every day, I look at a picture of my mom on the wall in my office. I know she would be proud and I know what I do on a daily basis is what I was meant to do. We all make mistakes, but it is how we grow from those mistakes that will show who we truly are. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is committed to becoming a better and stronger organization and I believe we have the opportunity and strength to do exactly that.
The Susan G. Komen controversy demonstrates why it is imperative to handle these situations with the utmost efficiency and care. Amid a crisis, companies must be transparent, honest and ready to disclose any and all information pertaining to a specific situation.
The worst thing a company can do during a crisis or controversy is nothing at all. Every organization should have a plan in place and be primed for meaningful, responsible action. To begin developing and implementing an effective crisis communication plan, visit http://www.lasvegascrisiscommunications.com/ or call the MassMedia Healthcare Marketing crisis division at 702-433-4331.