When the Message Matters
The Ammerman Experience is a communications skills development firm that does one thing and one thing only: we show people how to effectively and confidently reach and influence others through the spoken word.

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As a leading communication skills development firm, The Ammerman Experience pioneered a wide range of interactive workshops and training sessions designed to show people how to face the media, manage crisis situations, speak at public meetings, and deliver effective sales, analyst, and other business related presentations. Through our quarterly newsletter, the Advisor, we share some of our expertise in these areas.

Why Your Doctors Won’t Talk To The press

Published: Jan 26, 2016

Media Training

Hospital healthcare PR professionals face a very unique challenge when it comes to media relations. Hundreds of newsworthy stories take place inside their own buildings, yet all too often the doctors who are the protagonists of these stories are uncomfortable speaking to the media. The prescription to this epidemic is the alignment of the story around the doctors’ personal integrity and the proper training to give them confidence.

Before delving into the details of doctor presentation tips, let’s review how we ended up in this situation in the first place. The fact is that hospitals are a competitive market. Consumers have more choice than ever when it comes to medical care, and PR professionals must drive attention to their facility to increase its attractiveness in the public eye. A breaking story about a new surgery that saves lives could be a game changer for the hospital.

Doctors, however, often don’t share this perspective. Years of biased education and back-office chatter have left doctors in a place of mistrust with the media. That means that doctors are hesitant to allow media members the opportunity to hurt their integrity. No doctor wants to lose personal credibility because an aggressive interviewer made him or her look like a fool. Looking like a fool only makes the doctor lose esteem, and in the hyper-competitive field of medical care, the other doctors in the community will take notice as well. So, to get your doctors to speak, we do what we can to change their perspectives on interviews by making the outcomes as favorable as possible.

Now that we’ve covered what’s at stake, let’s proceed to the steps that need to take place to make your next interview a success.

Change Perspective on the Purpose

Our experience is that doctors often don’t have a clear understanding of the purpose of their role in the interview. The public needs to know what great work they are doing, and the value that this work adds to the community. This newsworthy procedure could reach another patient in another part of the world that could come in for care. The point is this: you need to create alignment between the purpose of the interview and the doctor’s place in the interview. Doctors are not going to do a sales pitch, but they will talk about whatever message aligns with their credibility and expertise. Positioning the interview around the integrity of the doctors will be critical to getting them on board. Don’t tell them, “We need to talk about how great this hospital is.” They’ll never agree to do it. Guide them to speak about the procedure and the outcomes, and how their expertise impacted those things.

Give Them Proper Training

Doctors will rarely admit that they need media training, but they may take it as part of the package when it comes to a potential interview with the media. Doctors want to look good when doing media interviews, so the idea of training your doctors for the process can pay big dividends. Here are two reasons why:

Language of the living room

Doctors need training to present their answers in the “language of the living room”. Technical medical jargon is not going to connect with the consumer at home. It might make them look smart, but it could also get them into trouble. Using proper language will relax doctors, allowing them to gain confidence by assuming a more conversational tone. Training will also help to make sure that they don’t appear condescending to the typical layperson.

On-Camera Training

We’ve perfected on-camera training techniques over the years, and those techniques have been a huge help in preparing doctors for interviews. Once doctors can see themselves on-air, they can get a better understanding of their limitations and strengths. From there, we’re able to maximize their presentation skills to bring out the best message possible. Personal expressions, body language, tone, and messaging will all be analyzed to make their interviews run as flawlessly as possible. We teach them how to connect with the audience they are working to reach.

Avoid the Pitfalls

Lastly, training will help them avoid the pitfalls that they fear the most. Maintaining credibility will be the biggest outcome for your doctors. With our training, we can help protect them and give them the skills and tactics to avoid those sticky interview situations that they fear.

Preparation is Key

With a doctor’s schedule, it might be harder than most to make time for preparation. Yet the results of training and practice can help your doctors achieve the media stature that will bring the right attention to your hospital. If you know you are about to have an interview, contact us today to talk about our media training and find out how we can help to prepare your doctors to be at their best.

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