Professional Networking

10 Ways To Become A Go-To Media Expert In Your Field

10 ways to be the go-to media expert in your fieldWant to tell thousands of people about your practice? Tips to landing regular media interviews.

What do you think of when you think of professional networking? Private practice therapists who I’ve worked with in business consultations usually consider networking to be meeting with other like-minded professionals for lunch or handing out business cards to physicians offices. While those are important ways to make connections that build your therapy practice, there are other ways to get the word to thousands and thousands of people in one shot, instead of just a few folks at a time.  Rarely do therapists think of networking with producers, reporters and journalists.

Over the last few years I’ve focused on developing relationships with producers, journalists, and reporters in various media platforms. There are a few who now contact me for quotes when they need expert quotes or interviews. I've landed regular local TV, radio, and news interviews as well as interviews with top-tier publications and shows: Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Parenting, Woman's Day, Women's Health, and others. Here are some things I’ve learned about what works when building relationships with reporters, journalists and producers.

1) Seek out opportunities

Keep an eye out for opportunities to interview with local and national reporters. Sign up for services that notify you of reporters looking for interviews, like Reporter Connection, ProfNet Connection, Expert Engine. Contact local radio, television, and newspaper companies and offer your expertise on newsworthy topics.

2) Know what’s ‘newsworthy’

When pitching stories or interview topics to local journalists and reporters it’s crucial to know what they’re looking for. Sorry, but the fact that you’re going into private practice specializing in family therapy is not newsworthy; however, news and other TV programs might be interested in getting your thoughts on a new study showing how cultivating self-compassion helps individuals manage divorce. I suggest getting into some “media-minded” habits:

  • Watch national news headlines. Pitch a local spin on those stories to local TV producers.
  • Suggest seasonal topics. Pitch interviews around managing holiday stress, or Halloween safety tips for children in October.
  • New research is “news.” Keep an eye out for interesting research that’s relevant to your practice and offer to interview.

While what counts as newsworthy must be modified to your particular practice and community, MediaCollege.com generally defines a story as newsworthy if it has the following characteristics:

  • Timing – News is all about stories that are current and new
  • Significance – Something that affects large numbers of people
  • Proximity – An event happening close to home
  • Prominence – Involves someone famous or well-known
  • Human Interest – Appeals to emotion, novel, off-beat, interesting

3) Know how to write a press release

When pitching to media you need to speak their language, which means learning how to write a press release.

4) Respond to requests ASAP

I’ve come to realize that journalistic deadlines are incredibly tight, and the sooner I respond, the better. I’ve interviewed one afternoon for an E! Online article and it posted that same evening. When I get an email request for an interview I will respond right then on my smart phone with comments off the top of my head. I’ve been known to pull over on the side of the road while driving carpool to respond to an interview request. If a reporter or producer contacts you, respond immediately or the opportunity will pass you by. Decide ahead that you’ll say “yes” (and think about how you can make it a positive and confident “yes”).

5) Speak in layman's terms

Talking with the popular media is different than talking with colleagues. When speaking with therapists we can talk in short hand with acronyms like DBT, CBT and EFT; we know what transference and countertransference are, but most people don’t know and don’t care. In pitches and in correspondence always use layman’s terms that can be easily understood even if someone’s never taken Psychology 101.

6) Let your passion show

I think part of why I’ve been successful in getting quoted in national publications is because I show my passion for the work and for the topic of the story or article. Even in email correspondence, don’t be afraid to show your personality and to be approachable. I also openly share my gratitude for the interview opportunity and how much I enjoy media interviews.

7) Make your contact info easy to find

In all correspondence make sure that your name and credentials (the way you’d like them to appear if you’re quoted), your email address, and your cell phone number are easy to find in any correspondence or voicemail. Reporters don’t have time to hunt you down.

8) Know how to make their job easier

Reporters, producers, and journalists are extremely busy and always on multiple deadlines. They don’t have time to calm your anxiety or to walk you through the interview process.

  • Send only relevant information. Highlight the most important information you’d like to talk about and a brief line or two about you and your practice or your “basic professional practice message” (see my elevator speech post). Through a brief stint as a producer and host of a local lifestyle TV show I learned what makes a good and a difficult interviewee. One of the hardest parts of screening potential guests was skimming through too much information hunting for the relevant points. You can always add more information as needed.
  • Limit your correspondence. Respect the reporter’s, journalist’s or producer’s time. Though getting an interview might be a big deal for us as the therapist, it’s just one of many details they are trying to juggle.
  • Know their demographics. Understand the demographic for a given newscast TV show, newspaper, or magazine so you can pitch relevant and helpful topics (have some “audience awareness”; if you don’t know the primary audience, ask).

9) Ask them to contact you again

At the end of each interview or correspondence, whether you interview or not, be sure to ask them to keep you in mind as a resource in the future and to keep your contact information should they need your expertise in the future. If you’re an easy expert to work with and you are eager to interview, my experience is that many journalists will take you up on your offer to interview again.

10) Be a resource

I’ve learned that offering myself as a resource is a great way to build bridges with the media. I often tell reporters, producers, and journalists contact me whenever they need someone to interview on a mental health or family relationship topic, and that if I can’t do it, or don’t feel qualified, I will find them someone who would do an excellent job.

 

Celebrating 10 Years Of Private Practice Success

tenth birthday cake

From solo practitioner to thriving clinic owner. Celebrating the milestones of 10 years of private practice.

Today marks the 10 years since of the founding of my private practice Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC. I started out as a solo practitioner with big dreams of creating an exceptional therapy clinic that not only provides excellent clinical services, but also provides therapists the opportunity to create their "dream practice" in a nurturing work environment that supports personal growth and strong family relationships.

As I take a step back and reflect on this ten year journey, many tender emotions surface. I am grateful for willing clients who have allowed me to walk with them during life crises and transitions. I am touched by the generosity of the professional relationships that I've cultivated during this period of time. I am amazed at the personal and professional growth that I've experienced. I've learned invaluable lessons about leadership, boundaries, and business. I've developed skills in marketing, supervising, web design, social media, mentoring, public relations, human resources, interior decorating, negotiating contracts, consulting...

This Wednesday we're putting on our party hats and hosting a celebration: a professional networking luncheon in our new office suite for all of our current and former staff, colleagues, referral sources, families, and friends. As a thank you to our colleagues and friends we'll be tweeting and posting photos and links to great websites and resources as a thank you to our attendees. Feel free to follow the fun here on our Twitter and Facebook page.

10 Year Milestones For Wasatch Family Therapy

  • 10,000 families served
  • 4000 + social media updates
  • 300 local and national media interviews
  • Grown from 1 to 14 therapists
  • 13 interns trained or supervised
  • 1 to 2 clinic locations
  • 9 babies born to our staff members
  • 5 office spaces outgrown
  • 0 to 2 office and support staff
  • Transitioned from managed care to a private pay practice

Whether you've been in private practice for years or months, I encourage you to take a step back this week and reflect on your journey. What milestones have you achieved so far? What are you grateful for? How have you grown personally and professionally through your private practice journey? And where do you want to go next?

Throughout the month of October I'll be posting more about lessons learned during my 10 years in private practice, mistakes and missteps, brave decisions, and more in the hopes that you can learn from my successes and failures and build your dream practice.

What are the most lessons have you learned in your days/weeks/years in private practice?

 

Creative Commons License normanack via Compfight

From Cosmo to Wall Street: 7 Tips For Giving Great Interviews

Cosmo to WSJ

What do you think of when you think of professional networking? Private practice therapists who I've worked with in business consultations usually consider networking to be meeting with other like-minded professionals for lunch or handing out business cards to physicians offices.

While those are important ways to make connections that build your therapy practice, there are other ways to get the word to thousands and thousands of people in one shot, instead of just a few folks at a time.  Rarely do shrinks think of networking with reporters.

Over the last few years I've focused on responding to reporter queries seeking quotes from experts on a variety of mental or emotional health issues, and family relationship advice. There are a few who now contact me for quotes when they are pitching new articles or stories. I've had a great time corresponding with them by email or talking by phone.

This month I am thrilled to have quotes in:

Cosmopolitan Magazine (June 2012) article "Are we boring"

Wall Street Journal (today May 15, 2012) "For a nation of whiners, therapist try tough love" (with a photo included)

Click here to see quotes in other national publications

Tips for interviewing with reporters and journalists:

1) Seek out opportunities

Keep an eye out for opportunities to interview with local and national reporters. Sign up for services that notify you of reporters looking for interviews, like Reporter Connection, ProfNet Connection, Expert Engine.

2) Respond to requests ASAP

I've come to realize that journalistic deadlines are incredibly tight, and the sooner I respond, the better. I've interviewed one afternoon for an E! Online article and it posted that evening. When I get an email request for an interview I will respond right then on my smart phone with comments off the top of my head. I've been known to pull over on the side of the road while driving carpool to respond to an interview request.

3) Avoid psychobabble

Interviewing with the popular media is different than talking with colleagues. Fellow shrinks can talk in short hand with acronyms like DBT, CBT and EFT; we know what transference and countertransference are, but most people don't know and don't care. Always use layman's terms that can be easily understood even if someone's never taken Psychology 101.

4) Give quotable sound bytes

In the therapy office, we are used to taking our time, starting where the client is, and exploring client's deeper emotions. Media interviews require doing the opposite of what you do in therapy.  In media interviews you have to get right to the point. Most journalists are looking for a few engaging and relevant sentences to support their piece, not a dissertation.

5) Let your passion show

I think part of why I've been successful in getting quoted in national publications is because I show my passion for the work and for the topic of the story or article. Even in email correspondence, don't be afraid to show your personality and be approachable. I also openly share my gratitude for the interview opportunity and how much I enjoy media interviews.

6) Make your contact info easy to find

Make sure that your name and credentials (the way you'd like them to appear if you're quoted), your email address, and your cell phone number are easy to find in any correspondence. Reporters don't have time to hunt you down.

7) Ask them to contact you again

At the end of each interview or correspondence, whether you interview or not, be sure to ask them to keep you in mind as a resource in the future. Ask them to keep your contact information should they need your expertise in the future.

8 Real World Marketing Strategies From Successful Therapists

Global Bathymetry DEM With Satellite Landmass (Version 2, Globe)Learning about marketing your private practice and actually doing it are very different things. I recently interviewed several successful private practice therapists about marketing strategies that have worked for them in the "real world".

My goal is to inspire you to effectively market your practice. You don't have to do all of these to build a successful practice. Just start with one that speaks to you and build from there.

1) Public Speaking

Public speaking not only educates your community, but also raises visibility and attracts clients to your private practice. "I did a lot of public speaking in neighborhood institutions - schools, churches, synagogues, hospitals to get my name recognized," says Dr. Roberta Temes of New York City. Parenting After Loss founder Amy Luster, M.A., LMFT also offers community presentations on on her specialty areas: infertility, high-risk pregnancy, and miscarriage patients as well as to the health-care providers that treat them as part of her marketing strategy.  Presentations on hypnotherapy have proven tan effective marketing tool for  Dr. Mary Sidhwani. "The community learns more about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy and also creates exposure for my practice and services," Sidhwani says.

2) Dynamic Website

Emma K. Viglucci, CFT, LMFT, CIT launched her practice website before most therapists had even considered it. "Marketing my website online has been the most effective marketing tool for me." Private practitioner Esther Kane, MSW of British Columbia agrees. An effective website has been the best way to market her practice and says it's an added benefit to be married to a website designer.

(Read 5 Common Website Mistakes And How To Fix Them)

3) Say "Yes" to Social Media

While some therapists are hesitant about using the social media to market their practice (and I'm not one of them), others are finding it to be an effective marketing tool. Viglucci says, "I've embraced this new aspect of online marketing at the beginning of this year, and was able to reduce my marketing budget by a 1/3 within 3 months." I echo her enthusiasm for using social media to build your practice. Facebook is the #2 traffic source to my private practice website Wasatch Family Therapy.

(Read Why Social Media Matters To Therapists)

4) Connect With Other Professionals

Professional networking is crucial for success in private practice, especially if you have a specific treatment niche. In addition to public speaking, Luster focuses her marketing efforts on building strong professional referral relationships with health care and childbirth providers, and parenting educators who work with her ideal clients.

Shannon Purtell, an anger management specialist finds that that getting involved in local professional organizations helps build her practice.

I found one of the best marketing strategies was to get involved with a local chapter of EAPA (Employee Assistance Professionals Association). I served on the board for 2 years as secretary and 2 years as president. These positions put me in regular contact with other mental health professionals, representatives from local and national EAP's, and marketing representatives from a variety of treatment centers. I was able to build professional relationships that have provided me with a steady referral base for years.

5) Everyday Life Networking

Networking as a marketing strategy need not be confined to other professionals. Therapist Diane Spear LCSW-R markets her New York City private practice by thinking about networking in everyday life.

The biggest thing has been learning to network in everyday life--there are millions of opportunities to mention what I do and that I'm expanding my practice, and educating friends and non-therapist professionals about how to refer their friend, colleague, or patient to me.

6) Word of Mouth

Sometimes just being an effective therapists has its own marketing benefits. There's nothing like the power of a strong recommendation from a friend or family member. Clients want to go to a therapist whom they can trust and they're more than willing to borrow that trust from someone else. "The best marketing strategy is word of mouth," says Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore. "Colleagues, pediatricians, and former clients who know me and know my work are my best referral sources!" Dr. John Duffy echoes the importance of word-of-mouth marketing. "Over the past several years now, the vast majority of my clients come from client and former client referrals."

7) Expert Media Appearances

Texas therapist Shannon Putrell, LPC recently had an amazing national TV appearance and additional visibility and credibility to her private practice.

I was contacted by a client that was participating in a reality program on MTV called True Life: I Need Anger Management. I worked with her and was featured in this episode of the series. The exposure that the program brought me helped to solidify my reputation in this niche, and increased my referrals to my program.

Regular local news, radio, and television appearances continue to help build my practice and provide a platform to educated thousands and thousands of people in one shot. As my clinic has grown, I've also trained therapists in how to pitch to the media. Watch some of our recent TV interviews here.

(Read more about building your practice through TV interviews)

 8) Write For Papers & Websites

Writing for local papers, websites, or blogs is a great way to familiarize your community with you and your specialty areas. Dr. Mary Sidhwani found that contributing articles to a small local paper increased her exposure and familiarized the community with her practice.

For a couple of years, I wrote for a local magazine, Wasatch Woman, who's readership closely matched my ideal client. Not only did it help get the word out about my practice, it added to my credibility and drew clients to my practice.

What marketing strategies have worked in your "real world" experiences? Please share your ideas below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Kevin M. Gill