FIRST THINGS FIRST As president of Trent and Company, a New Yorkbased public relations (PR) firm specializing in medical spas and healthy lifestyles, Ms. Trent tell s Ccoossmmeetticc SSuurrggeerryy TTimmeess that she urges her clients to do some self-reflection: "What makes one's medical spa practice special? Is it the trendiest? Does it provide the best results?"
Only after the formation of that desired end-image and message does she recommend employing the following PR tools and strategies to successfully disseminate it:A PRESS KIT This should include backgrounders, bios and plenty of before-and-after patient photos.
AN EFFECTIVE SPOKESPERSON "You wouldn't go into a trial without getting training from an attorney," says Ms. Trent. Nor should you enter a media interview without learning through mock interviews how to be succinct, organized and engaging, she says. Tips here include limiting focus to only three main points, smiling and being "absolutely honest" if you can't answer a question on the spot.
FREEBIES "It's very useful to make sure that media representatives come to one's medical spa to get treatments," she adds. And when they show up, she says, "Treat them like rock stars. If they write an article or do a television segment, your phone is going to ring."
A PR CASE STUDY When Juva Skin & Laser Center launched about seven years ago, "Not only did we invite media, but we al so invited local physicians of other specialties because they can be another great referral source," reveals Angela Caponi, Juva's chief operating officer and co-founder of the Medical Spa Society.
"Many people have lasers now, so one must be more innovative" in separating oneself from competitors, adds Michael H. Gold, M.D. Other necessities include a marketing plan and perhaps a PR agency, he says.
"One doesn't want to come out in the newspaper and say, 'Botox special — one dollar a unit.' That's not going to [help] in the long run. One needs high-class, high-profile advertising," particularly in the beginning, plus internal advertising as one's client base grows, he says.
At Juva, "We're very big into branding our name," says Ms. Caponi. "Juva's name is all over when one walks into the Center," even on candy wrappers and bottled water, she says.
GOING MULTIMEDIA In keeping with these efforts, the medical spa publishes a quarterly newsletter for its 40,000 patients, highlighting happenings such as research studies or equipment additions. "It's quite costly to do," Ms. Caponi says, "but many of our vendors have put ads in our newsletter" to help offset the expense.
Juva management then tracks its newsletter's impact by offering discounts for patients who bring it to the spa. Computer software likewise tabulates how many new patients the newsletter attracts, she says.
And soon, Juva will provide all new patients with a take-home DVD covering topics including doctor bios, accreditation and press coverage.
"This way," Ms. Caponi states, "the next time they come in, they can ask questions based on that." The DVDs cost relatively little, especially in bulk, she adds.