Your top six questions answered.
By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS
The private practice section Marketing and Public Relations Committee provides marketing and public relations tools for member implementation with local media and communities. Each month a press release is available for members to edit and use in their markets. The top six questions are answered here to ensure success in incorporating press releases into your marketing and public relations plan.
1. Why should I incorporate press releases into my marketing and public relations plan? A press release is the easiest way to get free publicity. It provides a way to market your practice in a newsworthy manner. An alternative to social media, promotional, or advertising methodologies, a press release provides credibility to your services and company. Increased credibility in your practice builds trust and confidence in the community of your expertise.
2. How do I write a press release? Many people tend to get intimidated when writing a press release. Use simple and clear language and avoid clichés. The goal is to inform the public of a particular service or program but in an enticing way. Consider using quotes from patients or health care providers in your community. Ensure any statistics or facts included are correct. A press release should always close with practice-specific information. Include a brief summary of your services and specialties and relevant contact information. Always include an email address in the contact section in case reporters decide your press release is worthy of more coverage.
3. How do I distribute a press release? Rebecca Mayer Knutsen, a seasoned freelance journalist specializing in health care, states, “In order to determine the best distribution avenue for your press releases, you must first define your goals. Are you trying to attract new patients? Are you aiming to inform the public and be a steward of preventive care? Are you hoping for a viral story? This will help you identify whose hands the press release should land in. Distribution can happen on a local or national level, or both.”1 On a local level, reach out to area newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets. An example of this is Patch.com, an independent U.S. local news information platform, operating in over 900 news websites in 23 states. Many media outlets have information on their websites regarding the process to submit a press release. Alternatively simply call the office and ask for an email address of the individual who handles the health care beat. A few days after the press release is submitted, send a follow-up email or call the person handling health care. Ask for confirmation of receipt of the press release and offer to provide additional information. Establishing a relationship with the individuals who manage health care can lead to a variety of future media opportunities. For a more global reach, though less targeted, there are many press release distribution channels available on the internet. Some of these sites have fees associated. Examples include prnewswire.com, businesswire.com, and prweb.com.
4. Can I simply post my press release on social media? Although not optimal, press releases can be used or at least modified for social media. Key channels to consider include: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. In addition, consider adding the information to your blog or practice newsletters. It is, however, more credible to syndicate a press release once it is published in a media source. Access the hyperlink of your press release then post this on social media with a description, depending on the social channel you are syndicating to. If the press release is engaging it can lead to social media sharing that will direct traffic to your website. The press release can also be distributed to targeted referral sources, past and current patients, providing credibility to your practice.
5. Can a press release result in more significant media coverage? Journalists spend time reviewing various press release distribution channels, both locally and nationally. A press release may create interest from a journalist and lead to even more significant media coverage.
6. Should I include pictures and videos? Pictures and videos are worth a thousand words. If you add these intrinsically viable multimedia elements to your press release, they will aid you in gaining that desirable, palpable, and viral tenacity that equates to good content marketing, effective branding, and enhanced credibility.
In summary, press releases are a cost-effective and simple way to receive publicity that can then be shared on social media and various other types of media. Building your brand and your credibility strengthens the reputation your practice has in the community, leading to new patients and maintaining relationships and the loyalty of past patients.
Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, is the chair of the PPS PR and Marketing Committee and chief executive officer of Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.