Although 2020 has not exactly been the year for events, with the end of lockdown finally emerging, now is a good time to think about re-engaging with customers and press. Clinic press events will be very different post-COVID – so should you bother? And if so, where should you start?
When planned and executed correctly, clinic press events can be an effective tool to build your clinic brand and reputation. By developing relationships with key local and national press, bloggers and influencers, you can establish yourself as a source of information and authority whilst reaping long-term benefits from new business leads, to sales and brand-building opportunities. In addition, a clinic press event gives the opportunity to raise your profile with prospective brand partners whilst outshining local competitors.
Most clinics only consider holding events at launch, however a regular event schedule can be highly successful at building and maintaining not only your profile, but also your profit margin. Whether you enlist the services of a PR or events company, or choose to run your own event, this blog will outline the key steps to success to generate long-lasting benefits for you and your clinic.
Step 1: Perfected planning
The most crucial element is focusing your clinic press event on a topic that will be of interest to customers, journalists/influencers and their readership demographic. If you fail to sufficiently grab their interest, they will likely not attend – or may attend and not write any articles afterwards. ‘Newness’ is always a good starting point – perhaps the clinic is new, or you are launching a new treatment approach – you may be the first in your area to have a certain device or technology. Making it timely (wedding season, summer body), or in line with current beauty media trends or consumer demands that will also be of interest for the target demographic. The aim of a press event should never be to SELL or appear purely commercial – the goal is to profile yourself and educate on your offering – providing information in an engaging, creative manner which gives journalists good content to write about, or share on social media. Your strengthened brand profile and press relationships (alongside patient bookings and sales) will be the outputs further down the line.
Location, Location, Location
Where appropriate, your clinic press event should be held in the clinic as this is the easiest way to get people through your door, experience the treatments/brands on offer and understand your offering. Make sure you clear your booking calendar for an hour pre and post-event – you don’t want the stress of ushering patients out when you’ve got an event to run. If your clinic is not suitable for hosting groups, you could consider local event venues such as hotel meeting rooms, restaurant private dining rooms, or bespoke event spaces. Points to consider for external venues are obviously cost and availability, but also whether they will allow you to bring in/administer your treatments, equipment or beds. Of course, Government guidance on social distancing measures is changing week by week, so ensure that all facets of your event are in accordance with these recommendations as well.
Is It Time to Go Virtual?
With social distancing likely to be the new normal, many brands have pivoted to hosting virtual press events which can be a great way to showcase your business without the associated costs and risks of hosting an in-person event. However, approach with caution! Based on our press insights, virtual Zoom events have now lost their novelty appeal, and will soon be over-used and uninteresting for press (also it’s even easier for virtual ‘no shows’ to leave your event flatlining). To mitigate this, you could host an engaging ‘live’ event broadcast on social channels (which you can promote online in advance) and then save down as an evergreen piece of content to continue to drive awareness and engagement. Additional video presenters and participants from different locations/disciplines or expertise, alongside pre-recorded segments and live Q&As will help keep the format interactive and enjoyable.
Step 2: Excellent execution
Aim to keep your event to a maximum of 1-1.5 hours and ensure there is a clear agenda set in advance – this allows plenty of time for people to mingle, ask questions and see what is on offer at your clinic. Bear in mind that people rarely arrive on time – expect at least a 15-minute delay to your given start time – particularly if it’s a breakfast event.
Your agenda should include an introduction covering who you are, what you do and why, covering your unique selling points, ethos and values. If using PowerPoint for your intro, avoid slide overload and where possible, mix with live demos, videos and even case study testimonials (video or in person) to really showcase your treatments. Consider profiling easy, non-invasive and quick treatments during the event – these can be performed by a member of your team to leave you free to talk it through and engage with attendees.
Goody bags are a great way to pass out marketing materials – such as clinic brochures, treatment information leaflets, your bio/business card, a press release on the key event topic and special offers. Invest in reusable branded bags if possible – it’s great advertising! Consider also reaching out to suppliers and non-competing local businesses for support – they may be able to provide free giveaways or special offers.
To minimise stress on the day, ensure the venue is set up (décor, catering etc.) and pack your goody bags the night before. Prepare a registration list based on invite responses so that confirmed attendees can then be ticked off upon arrival (get someone to help you with this, as you’ll be needed elsewhere!).
Consider booking a photographer or even paying to have the event filmed – this creates a wealth of content for your website, social media and patient newsletters. Providing good quality photographs improves your chances of local media coverage, as many smaller publications can’t reliably get their own photographers to attend events. Be mindful of consent and ensure attendees are aware of photography/filming going on and ask anyone who doesn’t wish to be included to make themselves known.
Should you include a treatment offer for press?
For an educational press event, the aim would be that the content is valuable enough to secure coverage on its own merit. If there is a specific treatment launching, consider the value of the treatment and perhaps only offer a free session to the highest value press contact. Then carefully discuss this on a one-to-one basis with the journalist to establish what you’d need to see by way of outputs; for example, a one-page feature article and social media post. Remember there is no guarantee of a positive review – it will be based on the journalists’ individual experience, so consider this when offering free treatments. As always, follow industry guidelines on responsible promotion, patient care and time-limited offers when it comes to goody-bag offers and vouchers – such as the MHRA Blue Guide and the Committee for Advertising Practice guidelines.
Step 3: Maximising media interest
The critical tool in securing coverage is the press release, which should be included in the goody bag and on any follow-up correspondence. Press releases encapsulate the essence of the event news – what is new, how does it work, who benefits and why should people care. It must contain all the information you want the journalist to impart within their article in a succinct and punchy manner and should be one page maximum. You can learn more on how to create your own effective press releases through our ELITE Programme training tools. The day after your event, send a friendly ‘thank you’ email to attendees – share some of the images/videos of the event and where appropriate, prompt people to come in for their consultations/special offers. Re-attach the press release and offer to help with any questions. It’s also worth reaching out to those who couldn’t make it with a mini event synopsis, the press release and imagery as they may still cover anyway. Whilst it’s tempting, don’t chase too hard for coverage outputs – the journalists should give you an idea if and when they are planning to cover, and a polite follow-up once per week is usually the best way to keep track of anticipated outputs. When coverage appears, share it via your website, social media and patient newsletters. Ensure you tag the journalist and publication to thank them for their article. This keeps relationships warm and ready for your next event!