Use the power of PR to build your business.
Becoming a trusted source—so local media will turn to you when they need an animal expert—can be a great way to get your name (and that of your hospital) out into the community and to help disseminate reliable, accurate information. Try these ways to use PR to boost your business.
1. Contact the right person. Keep up to date with local news and pinpoint reporters to contact. Most reporters and editors have bios and contact email addresses on their websites. If someone mentions their cat or dog in the bio, that’s the person to pitch.
2. Be credible. Update your hospital’s website and social media accounts before you reach out. Reporters will review these before contacting you. Having robust social media presence where you share relevant local news will encourage local reporters to develop a relationship with you.
3. Be an expert. Show that you can comment on timely topics, while demonstrating knowledge and concern for the community.
4. Reach out. To do this, send an email to your chosen reporter, suggesting a timely story idea and offering yourself as an expert source. This doesn’t have to be about your hospital. A public service announcement about heartworm prevention or avoiding Lyme disease will work.
5. Summarize. Include a one-page fact sheet about your hospital and/or a paragraph at the end of your email. This will tell the reporter the basics about your practice without breaking up the newsworthiness of your pitch. Once you write this, keep it and reuse it with subsequent story ideas.
6. Open your doors. Veterinary hospitals are more high-tech and interesting than many in the general public expect. Invite a reporter over for a tour or to watch a dental cleaning (with the client’s permission, of course).
7. Be reliable. Once you have offered yourself to the media as an expert, respond promptly when they contact you. If they call to interview you, take the call (even if it is just to set an appointment time).
8. Refer an expert. If you have an emergency or the topic isn’t your area of expertise, suggest another source. If you don’t feel comfortable referring a local veterinarian, refer an expert from where you went to veterinary school. Reporters on deadline will remember this kindness in the future.
9. Avoid jargon. Reporters love experts who can explain things in everyday language. If you can explain how a canine influenza epidemic is contracted and spread without using technical terms, reporters will be thrilled to have you help get the message out.
10. Be prepared. Most publications will ask you to provide photographs. Create a folder of high-resolution digital photos (ideally, exterior and interior shots of your hospital, a headshot, your logo and some fun images with animals) ready to share when asked.
The work of relationship-building doesn’t end once your name appears in print. Share the article on social media. Send a quick email thanking the reporter for a job well-done.