Using PR to successfully launch new dental practices

Treeline Dental Care planned to open some new surgeries across Lincolnshire. Although they already had a practice near Nottingham, Lincolnshire was an unknown quantity, and they had no presence or connections in the county.

It was important to the brand, to build up a local presence and to quickly elicit community trust and local support. Short term targets were to create an effective lead generation process, forge links with the community and fill surgeries with NHS patients. As part of a full media plan, we created a list of key business and social influencers with outreach focused on the local press, major employers, Lincoln University and political figures. PR and social media strategies were created, which was implemented back-to-back with local radio advertising supported by leafleting and exposure in local newspapers and village magazines.

The concerted PR program was core to the success of the launch with press releases written and disseminated to local media, online and offline, with follow-ups to all relevant parties including invitations to the practice opening launch events. Launch event attendees were high-profile and spanned both political and business communities with substantial media coverage and interviews achieved. Connections were made with the key regional thought-leaders, ensuring that they were ‘on board’ with Treeline Dental expansion plans in the county.

Two surgeries opened on the same day, with the local Lord Mayor cutting the ribbon. A third practice in Spalding is scheduled to open in early 2020 once senior dentists have been recruited. Patient lists for both practices were at maximum levels even before the practices were opened.

It’s here due to popular demand… Smile Social

As we all know, Social Media has become incredibly powerful as a way of reaching and influencing people as well as enabling businesses to start and continue a dialogue with their customers and prospective customers. Certainly, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the many other social channels are visited by millions of people in the UK every day. And to dispel the myth, all ages are posting, tweeting, sharing and ‘liking’.  Seeing prime time Saturday TV programmes such as Strictly invite social media ‘stars’ into their line-ups can only confirm that social media has changed the way we live our lives.

So, what does this mean for dental practices? Whilst there are ‘early adopters’, that is, the practices that are well versed and experienced in using social media to market their practice, these are the exceptions. Many practices simply don’t know where to start and don’t have the time or know-how to maximise the positive impact it could have on their business.  It may be that selecting one or two social channels and ‘getting them right’ first, is the best way forward for some practices, whilst for others launching ‘full on’ into a multi-channel social strategy may be the preference.

It’s fair to say that over the past couple of years or so, I have been asked A LOT about social media by dentists, practice managers, nurses and other dental staff. But in the last six months, the number of enquiries we have received has risen dramatically, so much that we have decided to launch Smile Social, a complete range of social media management packages specially designed for busy dental practices.

Spanning Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, the level of involvement is up to you. With our clients, it varies, some have a dedicated member of team, often the PM or a nurse, who helps to provide content and do some posting, whilst other practices leave it all to us on their behalf. From the creation of inspirational, educational and entertaining content that raises the profile of your practice to engagement tactics that generate more enquiries, the Smile Social service is flexible to suit your individual objectives and available resources. So, whatever the size or shape of your practice, Smile Social has the package that’s right for you. To find out more about Smile Social call 01626 897713 or contact us

Vlogging (Video – Blogging)

Taking your blogs up a notch into vlogs is a great way to get your message across online.

With such a face to face (or face to teeth!) profession it’s a great way to let patients get to know you, without having to spend lots of time with them individually.

Not sure what to blog about, let alone vlog?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Your practice New Years Resolutions
  • Tooth Whitening take home kits – show the procedure and emphasise how easy it is
  • A tour of the practice – for nervous patients this can make all the difference
  • Meet the team – make sure everyone has their best smiles on!

You don’t need a professional camera or videographer to take your videos, if you have a tech savvy member of staff they should be able to get a good quality video on their phone – remember you’re not shooting the new Star Wars, just a friendly practice vlog!

If you need help with ideas, implementation or posting of your vlogs then get in touch.

N.B. You will need written consent from patients for them to appear in any of your videos! 

How To: Create a Practice Event

At the moment we’re helping several clients to create and promote open days. This is a great way of showcasing new treatments as well as building relationships and rapport with patients.

To help you create an event for your practice here’s a list of the things you’ll need to think about:

Your Event Checklist

  • Select a main theme
  • Decide on a special discount for selected treatment
  • Prize draw to win e.g. free tooth whitening
  • Post updates on Facebook & Twitter
  • Create momentum prior to the event
  • Press release sent out to local media
  • Book photographer / ask a team member
  • Print leaflets for local businesses
  • Promotional merchandise ordered
  • Print posters for your windows
  • Patient e-newsletter / newsletter update
  • Motivate staff and assign roles
Need help with your events?

To celebrate our sixth anniversary we’re offering six FREE half hour slots for consultations at Dental Showcase in Birmingham, so book soon to avoid disappointment!

Book an appointment with our lead consultant Steve Davey.  Get in touch via email or call us on 01626 897 713.

How To: Create Affiliate Links Locally

This is possibly the best marketing tip for any business on a tight budget; and it is a great way to encourage patient referrals from local businesses to your dental practice.

What are affiliates?

Individuals or companies who promote your treatments on their website, in their premises or via their newsletter in exchange for discounts on treatments for their customers or referrals from you.

Having a team of affiliates marketing your practice to potential patients is invaluable as the recommendation comes from a person or company that they already know and trust.

There’s no limit to the number of local businesses that you can have promoting your practice.

We recommend the following local businesses for dental affiliates:

  • Hair salons
  • Florists
  • Gyms
  • Vets
  • Spas
  • Hotels with gym/spa facilities

What do I do?

A cheap and effective way to work with local businesses is to produce a joint venture flyer branded to your practice.

For each affiliate you amend the flyer template to feature their logo (as well as yours), a tagline aimed at their customers and an offer ‘exclusively’ for their customers to use at your practice.

For guidance on practice affiliates simply get in touch via email or call us on 0845  287 3051.

National Smile Month 2015

May 18 – June 18

It’s your time to shine! Promote your practice locally to attract new patients & encourage preventative oral healthcare.

National Smile Month promotes 3 key messages, so make sure your promotions are in line with these:

  1. Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least 1 other occasion with fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
  3. Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend

The aim is to ultimately improve the UK’s oral health.

Dentists across the country will be trying to educate, motivate and communicate positive oral health messages in a targeted campaign to improve smiles around the country.

You could run a Direct Mail campaign to lapsed patients, or a new patient examination discount. You could start an e-Newsletter to your patient list to remind them of key dental facts, your latest cosmetic treatments and any practice news.

Organised by the British Dental Health Foundation, the campaign hopes to raise awareness of important health issues.

National Smile Month will see hundreds of events and activities up and down the UK engage local communities about the importance of a healthy mouth, and hopes to make a positive difference to the oral health of millions of people.

The campaign, which takes place May 18 – June 18, encourages all dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups, colleges and workplaces – in fact anyone with an  interest in good oral healthcare, to join in.

For advice on how to best use this PR opportunity and help your community, contact us.

How To: Write Practice Press Releases

It’s a great idea to get local PR for your practice as it reminds your potential patients that you are an established and respected dental practice in the community. It also supports your brand and communicates how you help people to improve their confidence and improve their smile. For your current patient list, great PR confirms in their mind that they have chosen a quality practice.

Firstly you need to think about how to get the press excited, you need news that the editor thinks will benefit readers.

New treatments or a new clinician at your practice may be news to you, but not to a reporter who has hundreds of releases about new products and services to read.

Imagine an Orthodontic practice has just added lingual braces to their treatment offering and as part of the launch has decided to offer patients a free initial consultation. Here’s what not to do:

Orthodontic Practice Launches Invisible Braces

(Name) practice, based in (place) is now offering invisible braces. As part of the launch, the practice is offering a free initial consultation……”

You’re more likely to get a story printed and generate interest by changing your headline and first paragraph to focus on the offer and what’s in it for readers.

Orthodontic Practice Introduces FREE Consultation for Invisible Braces

For adults who’d prefer a discrete brace option, (named) practice, based in (place) is now offering the latest in invisible braces. As part of the launch, the practice is offering a free initial consultation……

Before you start writing the release, choose the best angle from the patient’s point of view. If you will be sending your release to various media (local newspapers, dental press, local radio and local blogs) you may have to use different angles for the different media.

For help with a PR strategy or news article writing, contact us.

Make Back to School Work

For Your Practice

It’s that time of year again, parents are booking haircuts and buying new shoes for their children, it’s time to remind them about their kids most visible feature – their smile!

It’s another great time of year to kick start a good oral health routine, so remind everyone that it’s in their best interest to ensure their children attend regular appointments and brush twice a day for two minutes – saving them from more expensive dental work in the future.

Do you offer family appointments? Or patient plans with family discounts?

Why not introduce them to your patient list and to the community in your area?

As the time of greatest change in the mouth, the school years are key to long term oral health.

Make sure your local area is reminded of this by by placing an article in your local paper, and include within your web and social media messaging for example.

If you’d like help with growing your practice then call us on 0845 287 3051 for a Free Marketing Health Check.  We’ll talk through what you’d like to achieve and how to get there. Then we’ll create a unique proposal especially for you.

Social Media for Your Practice

Think Social Media is for kids? Think again. The average age of users on Facebook is 34, so if you’re trying to connect with potential patients you need to use all the tools available.

Not convinced? Social Media usage in 2014:

  • 89% of 18-29 year olds
  • 72% of 30-49 year olds
  • 60% of 50-60 year olds
  • 43% of 65+ year olds

Facebook is still the biggest social media channel, for every hour spent online in Britain 13 minutes of it is spent on Facebook.

Not sure what to post?

Follow us on Facebook for images and links to share with your patients.

One of the best things you can do on Social Media is get involved, a great example would be to get the whole practice to take on the #icebucketchallenge.

First set a date and time, then tell everyone – online and offline – to come and watch. Make sure you stand by a company sign or the front of your practice, mention your practice and nominate some other local businesses. Once you’ve all been soaked in ice cold water post the video online and include the donation link – remember to donate yourselves too.

Why not contact the local papers with photos and an editorial, or ask them to post the video on their site or Social Media? Ask all your colleagues to share the video on their personal profiles several times. Finally make sure you share the videos once your nominations have completed the challenge (linking to their social media pages of course).

This is just one example of the many things you can do to get your page more likes/followers. We particularly recommend anything for charity or that involves the local community.

If this all seems a bit too much to take on, contact us about how we can help with your PR and Social Media, call 0845 287 3051 or email info@smiledentalmarketing.co.uk.

Facts from JeffBullas.com