PR professional Andy Rea worked with BSAVA to help one practice hit the headlines.
Does your vet practice have great stories to tell?
Could your business boost its bottom line by generating positive news coverage?
Could your team benefit from working together on PR and social media?
I suspect the suspense is not killing you but just in case, the answer to all three questions is… YES. And it’s a lot less painful than pulling teeth.
If you haven’t guessed it, this blog is about the power of proactive PR – how spotting and telling your newsworthy stories can make a measurable difference to your practice. There’s no ‘PR smoke and mirrors’ here, below is a real-life case study from a BSAVA member who was bold enough to give it a go. Our hope is that you feel inspired to try PR for yourselves and create your own success story (and maybe tell us too so we can share it with members).
BSAVA supports members with ‘how to’ guide
At Congress 2016 we hosted a talk for members to learn more about PR. We launched a ‘how to’ guide with practical advice, top tips, real life success stories, strategic support, templates and many story ideas; all aimed at delivering great media results for members. Members can access the PR guide along with a growing bank of other PR resources.
We offered attendees the chance to win two days of PR support from our team, and this is their story… (it’s about dental investment, in case you are still puzzled by this blog’s headline).
Healthy dose of scepticism
Spending a day in the company of John and Laura Mather and their team, who run Greenbay Vets in Torquay, was a genuine pleasure. If I said there were doubts on whether PR could make a difference, you would probably not be surprised – ‘marketing’ is not an easy sell to scientists. But reservations disappeared when the practice hit the headlines for all the right reasons, customers noticed and the team was given a metaphoric shot in the arm.
In just a few hours together we uncovered more than a dozen newsworthy stories. We wrote and pitched the first press release to the media, resulting in a ‘photoshoot’ and coverage in the local newspaper and online. It was all about an investment to bring the first dental X-Ray machine for pets to Paignton to tackle ‘iceberg issues’ hidden beneath the surface. It was a chance to show a progressive practice investing to give clients a great service, and to highlight concerns around pet dental care without being overtly advertorial.
We developed a clear media strategy for the team to continue the activity all year round. We covered media training and interviews, impactful photography and increasing social media engagement. In theory we helped facilitate the team giving it a go themselves next time. In practice that is exactly what happened – I am incredibly proud of them for continuing to invest time and energy into this, which resulted in this coverage
Word of mouth – the best marketing
But don’t just take my word for it, Laura Mather best explains the value of the time we spent together:
"It was very valuable to get together as a team to discuss PR. Some of the team were quite sceptical at first, but with Andy's guidance we had a lot of great ideas and by the end of the session felt ready to approach the press ourselves," she says.
“We have managed to do another press release and I have planned a few more for 2017. Thanks again for all your advice, I have been spreading the word about the BSAVA PR guide with colleagues.”
Ross Allan, the BSAVA’s Public Relations Officer, who jointly chaired the PR event at Congress last year, says: “This is a really good success story that really shows what you can do when you put your mind to it, and the follow up PR is fantastic on a difficult subject to get coverage for in our experience.
“This is primarily a great success for Laura and John, however I also believe successes of this nature could serve to create an ‘umbrella effect’ for the profession overall, by motivating owner-vet conversations about keyhole surgery for example: an area that is receiving increasing interest in general practice, requires capital investment and training, and has been shown to be of benefit in post-op recovery. The same would be true of other areas.”
Tell your story to get a piece of the PR action
You can easily generate positive news for your practice and a useful starting point is the aforementioned member exclusive PR guide
Vets do amazing work every day – but many don’t tell their clients. In this case Greenbay Vets has invested in pioneering equipment and keyhole surgery. Are you offering the same ‘big ticket’ purchases or will you take a look at the Congress exhibition in April?
It may be outside your comfort zone, but PR is potentially much more beneficial and a lot less painful than pulling teeth.