Are You Engaging Your Physicians in Your Healthcare Content Marketing and PR?
If you are a hospital, health system or physician services provider, engaging your physicians and physician leaders as subject matter experts (SMEs) for your content marketing and public relations efforts can be a powerful way to demonstrate your organization’s expertise and thought leadership. It also benefits the physicians who agree to participate by increasing their professional visibility and ability to influence the conversation about important issues.
Identifying the physicians in your organization who have the most expertise, passion and insights into topics of interest to the target audience usually is the easiest part. The real challenge is finding the SMEs who also are willing to discuss those topics with you and the press. The doctors with the most expertise and experience tend to be in very high demand and may be unwilling or unable to devote time to marketing. Some physicians may be uncomfortable being interviewed or quoted in the press, and others simply may have no interest in participating. It’s important to respect their choices, but there are also effective ways to lower the barriers to participation.
Greenough has worked closely with health care clients to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with their internal subject matter experts, including our work with Sheridan Healthcare’s marketing team to successfully identify and actively engage physician SMEs in the organization’s content marketing and public relations efforts.
We've outlined our 10- step approach for successfully integrating physicians into your content marketing and public relations efforts.
1. Speak with physician leaders to help identify topics and storylines of importance to the target audience and ask about their willingness to participate in input sessions and/or media opportunities.
2. Gauge the interest of physician SMEs in sharing their expertise and perspectives on proposed topics or other relevant subjects about which they’re more passionate. We also encourage physicians who are on the fence to talk to other physician SMEs about their experiences participating in the organization’s content marketing and PR.
3. Explain the benefits of participating, including the opportunity to share their insights and perspectives on healthcare-related issues they care about with a larger audience while building or enhancing their personal brand.
4. Make it easy to say yes. We let physicians know how we minimize the time involved in participating, such as limiting the length of input calls and frequency of requests, drafting contributed articles or blog posts for them and doing secondary research. We emphasize that they will have total control over the nature and extent of their participation and are free to accept or decline each opportunity we offer to them. If a physician with specialized expertise is uncomfortable being interviewed by or quoted in the press, we will suggest alternative ways to share that knowledge, such as providing input for a blog post.
5. Use their time well. Physicians’ time is both valuable and limited. Before every call, we research the topic to get all the information we’re likely to need during the time allotted. Depending on the topic, we may ask the physician to provide specific examples based on their own experience or point us to supporting data. For complex or very technical topics, we may ask permission to record the call to make sure we capture all the details and can quote the physician accurately.
6. Make the most of the input. We maximize the value and impact of every input call by using the information physicians provide in as many ways as possible. For example, a good 30- to 60-minute input session might provide enough information and/or story ideas to pitch an interview or contributed article, write a blog post and develop a white paper outline.
7. Build their trust. Before a contributed article, blog post or other content based on a physician’s input is published, we send it to that doctor for review. This ensures that he or she is comfortable with what is being said and how, especially if it is specifically attributed to the physician, and provides an opportunity to correct or clarify the content. This practice also makes it more likely that you will get a “yes” the next time you ask for that doctor’s input or participation. (The only exception is media opportunities, since writers and editors seldom provide previews of articles prior to publication.)
8. Share media coverage with them immediately. As soon as an interview, article, podcast, etc., is published, we send the link to the relevant physician.
9. Promote their contributions and achievements. We use social media to promote any blogs, interviews, contributed articles, media coverage, conference presentations or panels, etc., that feature or mention the organization’s physicians. We also use social channels to highlight and recognize physicians’ notable achievements, awards and voluntary contributions to make the world a better place, including volunteering their time and skills to improve the lives of others.
10. Express sincere appreciation for their time, input and participation before, during and after every project.