Case Study: How a Local Doctor Became a National Expert

Dr. Ted Lain is a dermatologist in Austin. As you might expect, most of his clients are also local. His business was already thriving, so getting more patients to come to his practice wasn’t a major priority in his PR strategy.

Instead, we focused on using PR to build his reputation with national media. Even though most people won’t travel out-of-state for an issue like acne, national media attention made it possible to engage with national brands. Pretty soon, major beauty brands and retailers—and to be clear, we’re talking Fortune 500 companies—were reaching out to Dr. Lain to possibly consult and collaborate with them on new products and marketing strategies.

There’s a lot I could say about how PR helped Dr. Lain’s business, but for now, I want to focus on what made him such a successful client.

This kind of success doesn’t come from one or two nice articles. I always say that PR is a marathon and this case really proves it. It took consistent effort to grow his reputation and become the go-to resource for skin issues. Once reporters became familiar with him and knew he was a reliable source, they kept coming back.

In fact, reporters were reaching out to me rather than the other way around!

Part of PR is reaching out to the media and the other part is following through. Here are the things Dr. Lain did really well that made him a media darling.

Jump When the Media Says Jump

When opportunities to work with the media started to roll in, Dr. Lain made himself available. He developed a reputation for being super easy to work with, getting information to the contact on time, and even working well with short deadlines.

You know what it is like when you need something, and it doesn’t come in time. Reporters have deadlines, and if you make it easier for them to make their deadlines, they are more likely to depend on you in the future.

Think About How You Can Help, Not How You Can Sell

PR should not be about selling your product. It’s hard to get this right when you are doing PR for your business, but it is absolutely essential. Otherwise, you look biased, it turns people off and they won’t call back.

One way to hit the mark is to offer your expertise. Dr. Lain is an expert in skincare, so anytime a question came up, the reporter could rely on him to give an informed answer.

Now, you might be thinking something like, “Wait, I don’t have a Ph.D., I just have a side hustle of selling delicious cookies.”

First, I want to tell you thanks for selling delicious cookies. Then, I want to remind you that I can already see that you have valuable insight on topics like delicious cookies, side hustles, and even time management.

The point of PR isn’t to tell people to buy your product, that’s what advertising is. The point of PR is to let the media tell people that you are at the top of the top. You’re the one worth writing about and you’re the one worth buying from.

Learn How to Be Concise

So now that you are a subject matter expert, the media is asking you questions. Congrats! How should you respond?

Sometimes, people overthink it and send paragraph(s) answers. This is a mistake.

Take a look from the writer’s perspective. They are trying to tell a story, and your input may help them with one or two points in this story. If you send long-winded answers, it would either take up too much of the article or not make sense if it is shortened.

Dr. Lain is really good at giving one or two-sentence answers. If the media wants more information, they’ll ask. But in most cases, the writer is looking for a simple and direct answer they can add in as a nice quote to underline a point.

Say “Yes” to Smaller Publications, Too

Dr. Lain has been quoted in publications like Allure, Refinery 29, and Teen Vogue. But when smaller publications reach out, he still says “yes.”

Obviously, everyone is going to have to prioritize. If you are getting a lot of requests at once, it might be hard to say “yes” to every single one. But if you have time for a smaller opportunity, says “yes.”

Remember that PR stands for “public relations.” Saying “yes” to smaller publications is good relationship building. Someone might be working on a freelance article for a smaller publication today, and next week remember you for a feature piece in a major magazine. That kind of stuff happens all the time.