Community & Public Relations
Public relations (often shortened to the abbreviated PR) is almost universally misunderstood by dental practices! Early PR was closely aligned with press and publicity, including the well loved and still effective press release (also confusingly referred to as "PR"), but today's public relations tactics take on a more personal tone.
At myDentalCMO, we've spent years learning the ins and outs of public relations as they directly affect the dental industry. Contact us today for a customized plan for your own practice, and start seeing your community involvement bear fruit!
What is Public Relations for Dental Practices?
For the dental industry, practice promotion takes place in several places: inside the practice itself, where patients can be directly interacted with at the time of appointment through internal marketing; and outside the practice, where potential patients and existing patients exist within the local community and can be reached through public relations efforts.
Actions that can be included under the umbrella of "public relations" include those designed to improve brand image, increase existing patient loyalty, and advocate for new patient growth. Done correctly, public relations efforts and community involvement can grow your word-of-mouth referrals by over 100%!
Since dentistry is an extremely localized industry, with individual dental practices rarely attracting patients from outside a certain radius, involvement in the local community is key for visibility and good-will. Great PR happens when your practice (including you and your team members) are involved with community activities and charitable donations, such as:
- Charity events, church involvement and holiday drives
- School or community athletic team sponsorships
- Event sponsorships and volunteerism
- Free Dental Day
- Patient Appreciation Days
- Give Kids A Smile
- Employer fairs and health fairs
- Practice open houses and anniversary celebrations
- Chamber of Commerce participation and local business support
- Presentations at local schools and hospitals
- Local Service Opportunities (i.e. Ronald McDonald House)
Find out if any of your team members has a personal tie to a specific charity, and support them and the charity with your practice's presence at the next fundraiser or event in your community.
Developing relationships with local media, creating a press kit, and drafting ongoing press releases surrounding your practice's community based activities should all be part of your public relations plan.
A team member can possibly handle this task, but professional help is crucial in several areas to maximize your success. Just a few things to consider:
- Unless you by some random chance have a team member who is also a professional media writer, a professional copywriter should be used for all press releases.
- Scheduling is vital to each press release's success. A release that is ill timed is next to worthless. Planning activities and corresponding releases several months in advance should be a given.
- Content should be carefully chosen for maximum effect. A press release about your new dental technology is probably not as valuable as a press release about how you've decided to get involved with the local oncology unit at your local hospital (where your team will be volunteering this Saturday) — and combining this news with reaffirmation of your commitment to early detection of oral cancer. It's not a PR stunt — it's a well thought out strategy!
Easy to use tools like PR Web have made distribution of press releases accessible to dental practices regardless of size and budget. However, sending out a press release is only one fact of public relations and to do the job right your practice will almost certainly require outside help.
Who Should Be In Charge of Public Relations?
The answer to this question is two fold. You and your team must be personally active in the community for your practice to truly reap the full benefits of public relations - but professional assistance with the details can mean the difference between such efforts paying off or being in vain.
Most single-doctor practices do not have an employee dedicated to PR. Larger and multi-location offices often have someone in charge of "practice promotion" who may utilize PR on a regular basis along with other tasks. Others outsource this job, but miss important factors that lead to their activity in their community being vastly underutilized.
How Can myDentalCMO Help?
In order to effectively leverage your community involvement, a third party skilled in public relations can be invaluable. myDentalCMO helps your practice by:
- Identifying events and opportunities in your community
- Coordinating copywriting and distribution of press releases and other written media
- Contacting media representatives
- Creating schedules for events and timed releases
- Assigning tasks and coordinating employee participation
- Training your team to handle any and all public relations opportunities
Don't let unfamiliarity with the full scope of public relations cripple the effect of your community involvement!