Dentists Who Invest

Podcast Episode

Full Transcript

Dr James: 0:43
Hey everyone, welcome back to the Dentists Who Invest podcast. There’s a little bit of an alternative podcast today, however, still related to finance, because everything that we talk about is how you can be more successful in life financially, holistically everything that we can think of. And that brings us on to what we are going to talk about today, which is raising the profile of our practice, raising the profile of us as individuals via PR, via the media. I have sat in front of me a lovely lady called Fiona Dwyer, who has extensive experience in this area. Fiona, how are you today?

Fiona: 1:18
I am very well. Thank you, James. Thank you very much for having me. I’m so pleased to be here.

Dr James: 1:22
Oh, it’s cool, my pleasure. So, fiona, for everybody out there who is listening, it might be nice if we did a little bit of an intro so that everybody can be brought up to speed, because I know that you and I haven’t gotten to know each other over the last few weeks.

Fiona: 1:33
Okay, yeah, sure, well, by profession I’m a journalist. I was a reporter for Calendar News, which is the regional news programme for ITV Yorkshire, for sort of over 30 years, or for about 30 years. I’ve been in the media industry for over 30 years. So my and I now do PR for people, what you say. I’ve come over to the dark side now, as they say, of the news desk, so I’m now on the PR side of the news desk, and so now I’m trying to get my clients into the newspaper, on the radio, on the television or on it as a guest, on a podcast or wherever it may be, or in a magazine. So that’s what I do now, and I also have a small number of clients that I do the work for. But in the last couple of years I’ve branched out and I’ve gone on into the online environment, if you like, and I now teach people how to do PR for themselves, because now everybody has a budget of between one and five up to £5,000 or more. Even it can be to hire a PR agency for a month to do PR for you, and so what I want to do, I sort of help people. I teach people how to do it for themselves and how to get themselves in the media, because it isn’t rocket science and everybody can absolutely do it for themselves and I absolutely love teaching people and passing on that knowledge to them. And I think as a journalist, I think in terms of stories and I teach people how to identify a story and how to get it out there and how to target the right journalists.

Dr James: 3:04
Interesting, and you know what that actually sounds more like the light side of journalism to me teaching people how to be Jedi’s whenever it comes to PR. So I’m interested to learn more about how that looks, because I think it’s probably the case that most dentists out there don’t really appreciate how much it can help them.

Fiona: 3:24
I would say so there are some who do do PR. However, I think not everybody understands how important and how useful it can be for their practices. So, in terms of raising their profile, in terms of showing people what you stand for, increasing your brand profile, it’s fantastic. If you get yourself in the media, it’s fantastic for recruitment purposes I know a lot of dentists struggle to recruit and also recruiting the right type of people. If you’ve got yourself out there and people they can see your values, they can see what you’re trying to do with your practice, then you’re attracting the people that you want to work with and that want to work with you. So all of those things are really important in terms of why PR I mean it also helps grow your social media accounts. So people, which is, again, is free PR I mean PR and getting yourself in the media, if you can do it yourself, is a fantastic way of doing free marketing because you’re not actually having to pay anyone to do it. You’re not having to pay a PR agency and you can do it yourself. You can identify once you learn how to identify a story for themselves, what is happening and what’s interesting to your clients, it can increase organic footfall into your practice, and it just shows people that dentists get a bad press, don’t they? There’s so much press about the fact that nobody can get an NHS appointment, for instance, and so you can use it as an educational tool to explain to people what’s going on with dentists’ contracts, the fact that they’re not really fit for purpose, and so, as well as those sorts of things, you can actually show the great things that you can do and the education in terms of oral health care and what people can do to help themselves. So there’s loads of different ways that PR can really help practices.

Dr James: 5:23
Love that. So presumably you have dentists who come to you, they seek you out and they say, hey, I want some help with my PR. How does that typically look then? Is that getting them in the local paper? Is that getting them on the local radio? Is that getting them on even national TV? Sometimes I’m curious, or maybe a combination of all those things?

Fiona: 5:41
Yeah, it can be. Yeah, it’s absolutely a combination. It very much depends on what is happening in the practice. So it could be because I work with dental practices as well as other businesses and it works the same for everybody. So, in terms of dental practices, so it’s things like, again, identifying the story and deciding, and we decide together because it’s a partnership. When I work with people, it’s a partnership in terms of we discuss, you know, they tell me what’s going on and I sort of say, well, that would be a good story or that would be a good story. And often it’s things that they don’t think are good stories and sometimes things that people think are good stories aren’t actually good stories or they need to add something to it to make it into a good story. So it’s just finding what would be interesting to a journalist to write about. So you have to have that hook, that top line. You know that’s going to draw somebody in. That’s going to make them want to read more. It’s going to make them want to listen more. When someone proms it on the radio, they sort of say coming up, you know, coming up, we’re going to be talking to such and such about such and such when you’re sitting in the car, what’s going to make you want to sit in the car and stay a bit longer when you’ve parked, just to hear that, just to hear that interview. So it could be any of those things, and sometimes it’s just a story, might just work for newspapers and you need to think about what photographs, what images that you’re going to be using as well or you’re going to sort of send, you know that would that would help tell the story. If it’s a radio interview, if it’s something for the radio, is it a good talking point? Is it something that? Have you got something that you can use for sound effects in the background? You know, in a dental surgery you’ve got all sorts of things that you can make sounds with. But you know, have you got, have you got, good case studies? Have you got, you know, good statistics? You know what is it that is going to you know that people again, that a journalist is going to find interesting and why, what’s going to attract their readers, their listeners, their viewers. Television is a different thing. You have to really think about how you’re going to tell the story with video. Tell the story. So, if you’ve got a case study, someone willing to be interviewed and actually filmed on television. You know what can they do? What visuals are you actually going to see when they’re actually telling the story about somebody, and how is that going? So it could be something like an oral health story. You’ve got a case study and then another bit will be within the dentist practice and then they’re actually having a visit at the dentist and you’re actually seeing them in the chair and having an examination or whatever it might be. So you have to think about how you are going to tell the story, depending on what media you’re actually using.

Dr James: 8:12
Gotcha, and that’s where you come in, I guess because you are able to help people visualize that, because we have no idea, as Dennis right.

Fiona: 8:19
That’s right, yeah, and sometimes it will work for all of them, but you just have to pitch it slightly differently depending on who you’re sending it to.

Dr James: 8:27
Cool and you know what. On the topic of case studies, it’s interesting that you used that phrase because I was just thinking to myself we’re really, really, really cool. Just so we can make this really tangible for everybody who’s listening. If you had some case studies and examples of Mr Smith or Dr Whoever Fiona the dentist and she was skeptical or he or she was skeptical, they came to you, they talked about PR, you introduced them to a newspaper, you got them on the radio and then X, y and Z happened to their practice overnight. Is there any stories that you have along that? Just to make it really tangible for everybody.

Fiona: 8:59
Yeah, well, I know one, and actually somebody she’s been a guest on your podcast Nikki Rowland, when she was a practice manager just very near me, and I was actually a reporter on ITV Yorkshire at the time and I’d met her previously because I’d already set up my PR business and I’d met her at a networking event and so we’d already got to know each other and we’d been talking about PR and she’d been trying to do PR herself as a practice manager. She’d been trying and trying and she hadn’t really been getting. You know, she hadn’t got, she hadn’t done what she wanted to do, let’s put it like that and she hadn’t got the media attention that she wanted. So I talked it through with her and I explained again about the different types of different ways that you can actually achieve PR. And so it was, I think, in November and it’s an oral cancer, mouth cancer month or something like that and what they chose to do at that point was they had a day and they did this on a number of years. They chose to for a full day. They opened up their surgery for people to come in for oral cancer screening and it didn’t have to be a client, it could be anybody at all and they sort of booked in the appointments, sort of first come, first served, and they’d be absolutely packed. But what happened with them is that from that, the majority of those people then became patients at their surgery, at their practice. And so and we actually did, I actually did a piece, I actually did the report on our news programme, but it also went in the newspaper and she got again. There was a case study that she got. It was a patient who had actually lost their father to oral cancer and so, and they had spoken about the importance of that. But we also had a second case study about somebody who was going through treatment for it at the time. So, and we also had lots of statistics that we could put into it. So when you put all of those things together, it’s a great story then for a journalist or reporter of any media to actually use. But from that, the footfall and the number of patients for their practice, pretty much everybody not everybody, but the majority of people who had screening became a patient.

Dr James: 11:16
I see, I see, I see, I see. So it works, which is the main point.

Fiona: 11:20
It works, yes, because you’re showing also that you’re it’s sort of like corporate social responsibility. So you’re you’re actually showing people that you care for them and you are doing this, you’re putting on this free event, you know, please come, we want to make sure that your, that your oral health is okay, that you don’t have a oral cancer or whatever it might be, and so that you’re actually showing people that you care for them. And then they’re sort of thinking oh well, I really trust them now and I really like them and I feel like I really know them and they really want to help me. So I’m going to go to you. If I’ve got a problem, I’m going to go to you and I’m going to go to your practice for when I want treatment.

Dr James: 12:01
Boom. So it’s all about getting the word out there. Of course, it’s marketing. In effect, it’s marketing which is great, which is great.

Fiona: 12:08
And it’s, but it’s free marketing. Forget about advertising. Don’t be spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on an advert here or an advert there, because people do that all of the time. Don’t do that. Just think about what your story can be. You know budgets are tight at the moment. You know, find out what your story could be and then let the media know about it, write a press release or pitch your story to the press. But what you need to also do and I always say this to people it’s not just a one trick wonder. Don’t just send one thing and it might not get traction immediately, but don’t stop trying, keep trying, because something will stick. But that’s why you need to understand what a newsworthy story is. First of all, because then, when you’ve got that, you’ll really go far. And then the journalists and the reporters they will come back to you time and time again because they know that you’re media friendly. They know that what you’re going to say is of note and is something that is of interest to their audience, their readers and their listeners. And that’s the sort of key and that’s the research that I would advise everybody listening to this podcast would do. Research who you are trying to target, but research who the journalists are that you want to speak to, and it’s got to be a drip drip effect. Don’t just do one thing and then think, oh well, it didn’t work. You need to do something consistently. Consistency over time, because otherwise you know somebody else dental practice down the road. If they’re doing it consistently, they’re the ones that the journalists and the news people are going to be talking to, not you.

Dr James: 13:47
Ah, so that’s how one goes about it really, Because how I used to think it worked in my head, my complete misunderstanding or complete lack of knowledge, I suppose about the process was I thought that the journalists that you just you did something exciting at your practice, you did something interesting, and then they approached you, Whereas I’m sure that happens on occasion, but it’s more the other way around. You have to constantly network and liaise with these journalists in order to keep yourself relevant.

Fiona: 14:15
Yes, but but liaise when you’ve got a story, not just you know. If you’ve got something that’s interesting, don’t just sort of stalk them, Don’t, stalk them, Don’t stalk them, don’t stalk them. But always, though, be and if it’s something that they can’t use on that occasion and it could be for any number of reasons, and it just could be because a different story has broken that day or that week that they need to put their efforts into and there isn’t time to do that story, they might come back to you again. So always be polite, because journalists are actually people too with feelings.

Dr James: 14:53
Okay, bad feelings.

Fiona: 14:54
But. But it’s just certain things like that that you just have to be aware of. So sometimes it’s just the timing is wrong, but more often than not it’s because people haven’t identified the correct story, a newsworthy story, and they don’t know how to pitch it correctly.

Dr James: 15:10
There we are, and you know what Patients are humans too. Right, that will resonate with dentists, because dentists feel partially dehumanized sometimes. So that was the perfect way to explain it. That’s because dentists are people too, and that’s what we would say to patients sometimes. You know what patients say when they come through the door and I don’t know, maybe maybe you’ve seen this, maybe you haven’t, but every single dentist who’s listening has been on the wrong side of this. You have a patient that comes in very first thing. They say to you the dentist, they’ve never met you before. They say, oh, I hate the dentist. And it’s like nice to meet you too. It’s like how old are you?

Fiona: 15:47
What angle are you taking? How are you going to? You know, how are you going to stitch me up? That’s what we sometimes get. A lot of people are wonderful. It’s me. The majority are wonderful, but there are some who don’t trust you at all and think that you’re all red tops, that you’re all going to sensationalize the story and that you’re going to misrepresent them. But that’s not. That’s not the case generally.

Dr James: 16:11
I’ve actually never heard that term before red top.

Fiona: 16:14
Oh, it’s kind of like, you know, like a tabloid. Yeah, like the tabloid. Yes, sorry.

Dr James: 16:18
Yeah, I’m with you now. Awesome, okay, cool. Well, I guess probably lots of people who are listening to this they think to themselves, wow, pr sign is great, how can I get myself out there more? But then they think to themselves hmm, that means that I might have to be on camera. That means lots of people are going to learn about me. Maybe not everybody is in that zone yet where they feel confident enough. What would you say to those people?

Fiona: 16:37
Yeah, I’ve got this a lot. Actually, a lot of people come to me and they do. They sort of say I don’t like the sound of my own voice. I don’t, I don’t like what I look like. You know what are people going to say? People are going to think I’m really uppity about you know, think I’m, you know, think that I’m, I’m thinking I’m great. You know what are people going to say? If they see me, you’d be an interview, they’ll see me in the paper and I would say to them that it’s this sort of imposter syndrome sometimes as well people have. And the thing is you’ve just got to put that to one side because what you have got to say is really important and it’s really going to help somebody. So you kind of it’s kind of like a social responsibility and you were sort of doing those people and your patients and injustice by not telling them how you can help them. So that is one way, sort of, if you think like that, then that will help your confidence. Everybody. You know, however you speak is perfectly okay. It doesn’t matter what accent you’ve got. It doesn’t matter, you know, whether you’ve got a low voice or a high voice or a medium. It doesn’t matter what you sound like. As long as you can speak in full sentences, then you’re good to go. But there are also ways that people worry that journalists are going to stitch them up. If they interview them and mostly if it’s about a topic that’s going to help people the journalist just wants to give you the opportunity to talk to them about how you can help them. They might ask you about something else. So you do need to be prepared. So you do need to keep an eye on what’s going on, obviously, in the news around oral health. But you would do that, I would imagine. Anyway, being in the dental world, you would want to keep up to date with what’s happening.

Dr James: 18:25
Maybe, oh, well so Usually usually yeah.

Fiona: 18:28
Yeah, exactly. So, oh, what was I talking about then?

Dr James: 18:33
Can I ask you my track I just actually need.

Fiona: 18:35
we’re talking about performance, yeah no, but there are ways also because I train people how to also do media training. But there are ways that you, as long as you do your research and I always say work out what your message is going to be. What is it that you want to talk about to the media? If you’re writing it down in a press release, that’s okay. If you’re not having to give an interview, if you’re actually giving an interview, then work out what your actual core message is going to be and then that’s the thing that you keep coming back to. If they ask you a question that goes off tangent or is something that you’re not sure how to answer, just be honest and say that’s a really, and say I think that’s a really interesting point. It’s not something that I feel that I can answer at the moment, but what I can say is this and then you go back to your core message again. So it’s just planning and research and sort of knowing and just so that you know what sort of questions ask them beforehand. What sort of questions are you going to ask me? And most journalists will say we’re going to cover these sorts of areas. It’s okay to ask and it’s okay to say I’ve never done an interview with a reporter before. Can you just give me an idea of what’s going to happen? How long is it going to be? Who am I going to be talking to? Just get the information from them, and it’s fine. It’s okay to ask. You don’t have to feel that everyone thinks that you already know how it works.

Dr James: 20:05
Boom, some practical advice right there, which would be very useful. And you know what? I listen to my content and I still find my own voice really, really rattling, however many podcast episodes later and what have you. But the good news is that it definitely has diminished a lot and even though, despite I experienced that some people listen, which is great Are you with me? Some people listen to the podcast. So it’s definitely a huge individual bias that we all experience and I’m still flipping, working on it. It never quite goes, but it does get a lot better. And whenever you can hear that, whenever you can hear somebody I suppose you’ve made content for say that, then what it means is that you’re reassured, that you understand that actually it’s part of the process, which is cool.

Fiona: 20:51
It is absolutely part of the process and it’s nothing to worry about at all. Everybody feels the same way at some point and the first time that you hear yourself, you know listening back, you might not even. You might sort of do it live and you might say I’m never going to listen to that again. Well, that’s fine, don’t. But you’ve done it and that’s great and you’ve got your message out there and people are hearing about you and you’ve got a name check and your dental practice has got a name check and people know who you are and what you can offer them and how you can help them. That’s the key thing.

Dr James: 21:18
Bunderbar, thank you for that. One thing I wanted to ask as well Dentalists are super duper, duper busy and I’m sure from experience that you’ve had some dentists say in response or I can, I can. I can anticipate that a lot of people might say in response to all of these things that we’re talking about right now, they might say that we don’t have enough time to do this there. And what people really mean whenever they say they don’t have enough time is what they’re really saying is I don’t prioritize this because everybody’s got the 168 hours in the week. Everybody’s got the same 168 hours. We’re choosing how we spend them. We’re choosing how we delegate them. Yeah, so when somebody says that what they’re saying is actually, I don’t feel this is important enough for me to delegate some of those 168 hours to.

Fiona: 22:04
Absolutely right. And what I would say to them is that they have to start taking notice of PR, because it’s going to absolutely revolutionize revolutionize their practice. If they think of a story, think of how they can be useful, how they are, how they can help other people, because dentists are there basically to help people. That’s what. That’s what they do every day. They help people, they look after people, they treat people, the whole dental practice and all of the team within the practice, and it doesn’t have to be the person, who doesn’t have to be the principal dentist who does all of this. It can be any of the team or it could be a couple of the team. It could be the practice manager, it could be one of the admin staff, it could be a hygienist, it could be one of the dental nurses, anyone who has an interest in this sort of thing. They could be a couple of them helping each other, discussing what could we do in the next month or couple of months. I always like to have a three month plan ahead of me, so I know with my clients and I teach this to people what’s coming up in the next three months, so that we can work backwards and work out when we need to start releasing or taking a picture or writing something, writing a story or getting a quote from someone, or finding a case study. Have a three month plan or it was six month plan, but a three month plan is fine and then work out what the story is going to be. It could be one story a month. I’m not saying do something every week, but if there is one thing a month, even that you can start. With that, you can identify a story and get that message out to the local media. Start locally. Your local paper is a great way and that’s and local people read it. And what’s great nowadays is that everything goes online, so a lot of the stories will go online and then when that story, your story, hits the online news on your local paper or wherever then, or your county paper, then you can share that on social media and so that is you showing people that somebody has written about you, they’ve taken the time to think, ok, this story is worthy to share with our readers, and so that is great third party credibility and you are showing people you’re not just. It’s not just an advert, which is wallpaper, becomes wallpaper because it’s just there in the background and people understand that with advertising, you can write whatever you like really and say I am great, this is what I’m doing, and da, da, da da. If someone, if a journalist, has written about you and they’ve taken the time to share your story in their newspaper or they’ve spoke to you on the radio or a film for television or they’ve had an interview with you on their podcast, and that’s giving you that really important third party credibility so that people can think they know what they’re talking about and when they think I need help, they’re going to come to you, because they already think they know you, they like you, they trust you. It’s that no-like trust factor and that’s really, really important.

Dr James: 25:04
Strategize the take home from that, or one of the big take homes that I heard anyway, which is really, really, really powerful and important. Fiona, you’ve been really generous with your time today Coming up towards the end of this podcast. How are people who are listening, who are listening to this podcast, best off get in and touch with you? Should anything that you said today interest them or should they be curious to find out more?

Fiona: 25:26
Well, I would absolutely love to help anyone who’s listening. If there’s anything there that’s resonated with you or you’re just not even sure how to start going about it, because some people don’t even know how you know. They sort of think I’d love to do it, but I just don’t know where to start. Give me a call and we can have a you know, getting touch. I’m really happy to chat through anything with you so people can email me. My email address is Fiona at FDPRcouk. Or you can find me on social media, on Facebook and Instagram, I’m at Fiona Dwyer Media and or if I’m on LinkedIn, if you’re on LinkedIn, just search for me, fiona Dwyer. You’ll see me and just connect with me and I’d love to talk to you and we can just you know chat through. We can even have just a quick 15, 30 minute chat so I can sort of say whether or not you know what I do can help you or not. Or you might just think I’ve had an idea, but I don’t know if it will work. Give me a call and I’ll happily talk through. Talk it through with you, no problem at all.

Dr James: 26:23
Brilliant. Thanks so much, Fiona. We’re going to draw a line on the proceedings just there. Thank you for your time. I’m sure we’ll catch up again. First, that’s flown by.

Fiona: 26:29
Thank you so much for having me.

Dr James: 26:30
My pleasure.