When you think of public relations, do you just think of press releases? That’s one way to go but there’s so much more to this subject. Gaining the skills to carry out effective PR for your practice can convert you from an unknown into a beloved authority in your community. And that’s great for your practice, your future income and all the kids you’re going to be able to help.
What Is PR?
Let’s clear up this definition first. PR is cultivating and maintaining a favorable image for an organization or individual, such as a celebrity.
It includes press releases, of course, but it is far more than just announcing news (“Come to our new location!”). It’s using every media channel available to communicate effectively to every possible audience that would be interested in what you do. They need to learn who you are and what benefit and value you offer the community.
There are specific PR channels that work well for pediatric PT, OT and ST private practices. In fact, they’ve worked very well for thousands of private practitioners, so why not you?
Roll up your sleeves, choose your preferred channel and get started!
NOTE: Be sure to follow current CDC and local guidelines for events and public appearances.
1. Workshops and Seminars in the Clinic. What are your strongest skills and most popular services? Hold in-clinic workshops and seminars to make yourself and your services known in your community. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Orient your topics toward individuals and groups that would be interested.
- Look for well-respected healthcare professionals or organizations aligned with your services that might like to participate.
- Also check out charities related to your profession that might like to attend or contribute.
- Offer seminars that educate and help the exact audience that really needs your services.
- Minimize self-promotion—they’ll love you for the help you give them.
2. Public Speaking in the Community. Hold on, don’t get terrified yet! If public speaking scares you, save it for later. Or start with small groups that already know you until you get more comfortable, like a club you already belong to or a group from your church.
When you’re ready, look for groups or organizations that would be likely to have prospective patients for your practice. For example, you could look for support groups for families of children with developmental delays or neuromuscular issues. Do an online search for “local support group for ________.” Provide helpful education and tips to make life easier for them and their child and you’ll become their new best friend.
3. Hosting Charitable Fundraisers. Do you have a local charity that’s a great referral source for your practice? Charitable fundraisers can really excite public interest and the interest of your local media!
Hold a fundraiser for this charity and you’ll find that charity will help you promote the event and probably help you staff it with their volunteers, as well. Those in the community who are interested in that charity will show up as well and everyone has a chance to see you in action and learn about your services.
4. Press Releases. Your local media services need local news content! So always send them a press release on your in-house events, charity fundraisers, speaking engagements or other news. Don’t forget radio stations as well as local television stations and newspapers. If you have newsletters in your housing development or your church, use them too!
You can learn the simple basics of writing a good press release just by doing an online search for “how to write a press release.” Have your best speller and grammarian check it before it goes out.
5. Educational Handouts for Referral Sources. What information does your community really need to know about your services? Create brochures on these topics that your referral sources can hand out to their customers or patients. Keep the language simple, helpful and introductory.
Don’t pitch your services, but educate and offer advice that the reader can put to use immediately. Of course, you should include the suggestion to call your practice for more information, and include complete contact data.
You can usually find online templates that make creating these brochures much easier.
It takes some work, study and practice to get PR rolling for your practice. It can be time-intensive but when it pays off, the rewards are fabulous. You get lots of people knowing about you, your practice and your results. And the costs, other than time, are relatively low.
For other tips and tools for growing your pediatric physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy private practice, find out about our Peds-A-Palooza free webinars.