By Cheryl Whitman, Beautiful Forever Consulting
When practices think of marketing, they typically think of web-based advertising, print ads, in-house signage or open house events. But letters to the editor, opinion editorial (op-ed) articles, and letters of endorsement can be some of the most meaningful ways to get the word out about you and your medical practice.
Letters to the Editor
One of the most read sections in newspapers, magazines and journals is the “Letters to the Editor” column. Consequently, this is an advantageous location in which to have your message printed. This section of print publications is devoted to discussing opinions about current social issues and events.
When a relevant article about your specialty that you feel you can comment on appears in print or online, write a letter to the editor. This letter can either endorse the printed point of view or dispute it whichever is appropriate. Be sure to consider the following factors when writing a letter to the editor.
- Check and double-check any facts you refer to in your letter. Be as accurate and fair as possible.
- Be brief. Write a rough draft, then edit, edit, edit.
- Pay attention to the readers concerns and viewpoints and consider that hundreds will read the finished letter.
- Be timely. Your letter to the editor must be received within one week after a related story appears.
- Letters to the editor are about your point of view. Make only a small reference to your practice and include a brief bio.
- Sign the letter. Letters to the editor must be signed.
Opinion Editorial Articles
Op-ed is the short term for an opinion editorial article. There are publications that like receiving well-written, well-edited articles from independent, credible individuals. The op-ed article provides a perfect opportunity to present your practice’s ideas, objectives and goals. After the op-ed is published, reprints can be used for mailings to patients, referring doctors and specialty-related organization members.
Op-eds are an excellent way to raise public awareness about new medical concerns. They also have the potential to educate policy makers. Here are some tips to increase the chances of having your op-ed piece published:
- Exclusivity: Always send an op-ed article to only one publication.
- Spacing and margins: Most newspapers like op-eds to be 750- 800 words, double-spaced with wide margins.
- Easy to read: First, op-eds should state your concern. Second, the article should show how your idea will or has solved the problem.
- Timing is everything: Op-eds should be timely and cover current problems/solutions.
- Be as brief as possible. Edit, edit edit.
- How to submit: Direct your article to the Editorial Editor or the Op-Ed Page Editor. Use the person’s name and title, spelled correctly.
Letters of Endorsement
Letters of endorsement may be used in press kits or combined with other submitted information to the press. Information provided in the letter of endorsement may be used in television and radio announcements, newsletters, brochures, websites and press releases. The purpose of a letter of endorsement is for a third party to provide a vision of the benefits they received from your practice’s services or an understanding of your credible specialty skill. The most common are patient testimonials accompanied by before-and-after photos. But letters of endorsement from well-regarded community members, including elected public officials, medical professionals and well-known personalities, can also support your practice.
Letters of endorsement should be short, one page preferably. The text should be positioned in small paragraphs, so the press can use a portion, if needed. They should refer to accomplishments that you or your practice has made that has an application to helping consumers at large.