When healthcare makes news, journalists—both print and broadcast—want quotes and sound bites that give their stories more excitement, interest and depth.
Physicians and surgeons are often sought by the media as authoritative sources for “quote-able” quotes and interesting sound bites. And that’s a sterling opportunity for medical practice marketing and PR to stand in the media spotlight.
Here’s how to be prepared and capture visibility for the medical practice, and to be recognized for your expertise.
Don’t get caught unprepared. Media interviews are often done by telephone, and while physicians have challenging schedules, journalists have deadlines. You may not have much time to prepare, but know the topic and the thrust of the story in advance. It’s better to pass on the interview opportunity than to try to “shoot from the hip” with the media. You just might shoot yourself in the foot.
Don’t talk over the audience’s head. Many experts talk so much like experts that they fail to communicate. Facts and figures are good ammunition to have on hand, but don’t get lost in the fine print. Avoid complicated medical and clinical terms when possible. The media will use quotes that people understand, and that usually means not being too technical, too detailed or too long-winded.
Present ideas that add to the story. Journalists tap professional resources to provide unique insights, interpretation and reader understanding. Simple validation of what they already know is not as interesting as providing something that they didn’t expect. Be interesting and/or perhaps a bit unconventional.
Think sound bite first (and last). For the six o’clock news, it’s a core idea in 10 seconds or less. In print, it’s the short, punchy and memorable quote in a single sentence. It takes preparation and practice to be highly expressive in just a few words, but concise and interesting is exactly what will make the news. If your full answer or comment is long, put the big idea right up front in the first sentence. And then say it again at the end.
It’s OK to brag a little. Be sure the interviewer knows and understands your credentials. Include a bit about yourself and/or your practice in answering questions. Don’t take it for granted that the journalist or the public is aware of your reputation and experience. If you have unique experience or particular areas of further study that relate to the subject of the story, make sure the interviewer is aware of it.
Need a little help with the media? You’ll find more about medical practice marketing, public relations and publicity here on the Healthcare Success website.
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