What Can the Media do for Your Practice?

Neurologists are often tapped by the media to explain complex conditions to a nonphysician audience. As part of a marketing strategy, offering your expertise to local media outlets helps them report accurately and burnishes your reputation.

The media-print, radio, television-can be a valuable tool for a neurology practice. Access to the media often provides a way of marketing a new service or level of expertise within a practice

When a healthcare practitioner serves as a source of information for the media it creates the perception of an honest, authoritative spokesperson. It gives a physician instant credibility. It is also a much better way to advertise your services than purchasing an ad. 

Neurologists are particularly sought out by various media outlets to explain complex conditions involving the brain and peripheral nervous system. Many neurologic illnesses can result in severe disability, change in mentation, or death, all outcomes that are particularly important to the public.

Media contacts can best be established by partnering with a hospital or professional organization that has a public relations department. Being available to be interviewed on short notice is valuable to both a journalist working on a deadline and to organizations (eg, hospitals, local chapters of professional organizations) looking for someone to represent them in the media. Professional societies like the American Academy of Neurology offer media training sessions.

To develop the media relations part of a marketing strategy, a neurologist should understand the importance of creating a concise, understandable message on the topic of interest to the press. This is often referred to as the “sound bite.”

Prior to an interview or when preparing a written communication, decide on three to five main points to develop that you want your audience to remember afterward and make sure you work them into the conversation or your written material. Writing them on an index card is helpful.

Here are some useful tips when preparing for a radio or television interview:

  * Practice. Anticipate tough questions, practice the answers. Make sure you get your points into the discussion.

  * Prepare. Familiarize yourself with the interviewer’s style. In the case of a panel discussion, learn about the other panelists. Watch or listen to the program in advance.

  * Attire. Dress professionally.

  * Communication. For the best clarity use a landline for telephone interviews that are being recorded.

  * Message. Keep the message simple and direct by using terms that the public will understand.

Bottom line: If you deliver your message carefully and articulately, your work with the press can have a very positive impact on a neurology practice.

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