Not everyone has a newsworthy story, and even some events don’t even have enough depth to interest media. Think through community partnerships and outreach that will generate visibility, give back to your community, and interest media.
Strategically, it’s important that the partnership and event you create generates visibility that also promotes your business. For instance, if you do not treat children, it would be a miss to hold an event that provides hearing testing for children.
When you don’t have a good story to pitch, you can create something. Holding an afternoon of free hearing screenings and inviting media to participate, will provide an opportunity for them to see and report on the process. You can hold the event at your practice location or another location within the community.
Location and Audience
Partner with a school, library, church, synagogue, health facility, day care, veterans center, senior center, or other location/organization where hearing testing would be a valuable and welcome service. If you want to hold a large event but don’t have the resources, partner with other area audiologists. If there are audiologists in your area with different areas of expertise, it makes sense to work together and create a larger event.
To best determine what type of event to create, assess the needs and demographics of your community and your customer base to determine the best demographic for the event. For instance, if you work mostly with seniors, look to do something at a community senior center. If many of your patients are veterans, look at holding a free hearing screening at a veterans center. If your customer base is diverse, hold a community hearing screening at your local library or health care facility.
You also can participate in existing local events although your opportunity for media coverage will not be as great. Local health fairs and community events provide an opportunity for participation, typically by taking out booth space. While it is still good exposure for your business, you’ll be lost in the multiple messages that attendees will receive that day. The focus will not be solely on hearing health. You may want to promote the hearScreen USA app if you’re at an event where there are multiple people stopping by your booth. The app provides an opportunity for those who do not have time to have their hearing screened at the event, to take a hearing test when they arrive back home. If you have literature on your practice along with information on the app, there is a better chance that you’ll get calls from attendees after the event. Giveaways (t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, etc.) are often helpful in keeping your information in front of people and good to have at events.
You may also want to organize your own health fair but keep it solely on hearing health. If you have a large practice and can bring out individual experts for various conditions (tinnitus, etc.), you can set up stations with specific experts or partner with other area audiologists.
Planning and Timing
Make sure you plan well in advance. Often, events are created with little time to promote them and they fail. It takes at least three years for most events to gain traction and a following. If you’re creating a community event, select a date that doesn’t conflict with other area events and can be held each year. If your resources allow for a smaller event, you can start small and build on it each year.
Invite media to attend and cover your event 3–4 weeks in advance. You’ll need to send something to them (a media advisory invites media to attend and cover an event), and then follow up with phone calls. A calendar listing should be sent out 3–6 months in advance to area media with all of the information on the event (where, when, additional information, and the fact that it’s free should be included). Call local television and radio stations the week before the event and pitch an advance where a reporter can come out and have an advance hearing screening, or you can go to the station and talk about the importance of protecting your hearing. This should be a segment that promotes the upcoming event. Then, pitch media to come out and cover your event as well.
Promotion and Invitations
Be sure to promote your event on social media. You can boost it on Facebook and Instagram. Send an invite out to your patients so that they might bring their family and friends. Be sure to capture e-mails so that you can communicate with contacts after the event. This is particularly important if you participate in an existing health fair or community event. You might have a giveaway sign up to ensure that you get as many e-mails as possible.
If you’re on limited resources and holding an event is just not feasible, consider inviting media individually to come to your office and experience a hearing screening. Pitch local TV stations, particularly medical reporters at the TV stations (or general reporters, if you don’t have a designated health reporter), and invite them to come out and tape the experience. Take him or her through the process of getting hearing aids. Provide tips on how to clean ears—when you should remove wax and when you shouldn’t and when you should see an audiologist. It will give you an opportunity to talk about what audiologists do. Whatever media outlets you choose to invite, always speak to the audience and be clear and understandable. Don’t use technical or medical jargon. Remember that, while a reporter is there, you can pitch additional story ideas. You may be able to interest him/her into doing a series on hearing health.
Even if you invite the media to your office, don’t take for granted that they may ask difficult questions—be prepared. Over-the-counter hearing devices are of great interest right now as their fully coming to market gets closer. Be prepared to speak on them.
Once you receive media coverage, whether it’s through a special event, a partnership, or just a personal invitation to media who come to your office to experience a hearing screening, be sure to post any coverage to all of your media channels. If you’re looking to grow your social media channels, boosting the coverage through paid social media opportunities will help. It’s an inexpensive way to grow your audience.
If you have a special event, be sure to hire a professional photographer to be there and take photos. Make sure you have photo releases available that attendees can sign so that you can use the photos. You can send 2–3 photos out after the event with a paragraph or two about the event to area media. Since most events will take place on weekends, when many reporters don’t work, they’ll appreciate receiving the information after the fact, and many will run the photos and information. Be sure to post photos to all of your social media channels as well.