Want to be noticed and remembered? Getting published is a
great way of scoring valuable, free exposure for you and your practice. And
being a great writer isn't a prerequisite.
The editorial calendar
Most publications have an editorial calendar
that outlines what topics they'll feature in upcoming issues. These calendars
serve two purposes:
They tell potential
advertisers what the editorial content of a given issue of the publication will
be, so they can advertise alongside related articles.
They specify when a
publication is likely to accept a story about a particular topic. For example,
if a local newspaper plans a special section on medical advances, a laser
vision correction center might try to place a story focusing on the new
technology doctors are now using at the center.
Magazines and periodicals usually have one
editorial calendar for the entire year. A newspaper may have several editorial
calendars, including story plans for regular sections (lifestyle, business,
home and garden, etc.) and special sections (back-to-school, holiday shopping
guide, annual health section, etc.)
Setting the wheels in motion
To get an article published, begin by having
your public relations or marketing person call the publications you feel would
best reach your target audience to request a copy of their editorial calendar.
Although your name will be on the article,
no one expects a doctor to have time to sit down and write. The reality is,
many authors in fields such as business and medicine -- from CEO's of Fortune
500 companies to medical directors of major healthcare institutions -- employ
ghostwriters for this purpose.
Using a ghostwriter doesn't mean that you
have no input into the article. On the contrary, you can have as much input as
you want. (At the very least, you should contribute to the flavor of the
article and ensure that it's factually correct.) Using a ghostwriter simply
means that you're shifting the bulk of the writing work onto someone with more
time, and perhaps more expertise as a writer.
If no one at your practice is a writer,
solicit the assistance of a freelance ghostwriter or healthcare editor.
Shaping the article
Here are a few guidelines on submitting an
Topic. Make sure the topic is a timely, important issue
that will pique reader interest and fit with the targeted publication's
editorial calendar. Possible topics might include:
how to keep your eyes
what to know about the
sports fitness and your
advances in eye care.
Length. This varies, but 800 to 1,000 words is a good
Content. The piece should be provocative and give the reader
a real payoff: valuable insights, advice and information. Generally, articles
must be educational and informative to get printed.
Writing style. Depending on the publication's audience, the writer
may have to explain all technical terminology. Keep in mind that most
newspapers are written at a 7th grade reading level.
Although the article can't be all about you
(especially if your name is on it!) most publications will run a bio at the end
(e.g. "Dr. Green is the founder and medical director of ABC Eye Care, a leading
ophthalmology practice that specializes in laser vision correction.")
Making it into print
When your article is finished, forward it to
the editor of the publication accompanied by a persuasive letter. Call the
editor within 48 hours after estimated receipt and answer any questions he may
have. If he feels the story isn't appropriate for his publication, try another.
Don't be disheartened if your article isn't
printed right away. It might be held for several issues before being featured.
But if you've targeted your topic and style appropriately, your article will
eventually see print. And that can do a lot to make you and your practice look
Stanley R. Joseph has been a marketing
consultant to the healthcare industry for more than 20 years. He's president of
C & S Marketing Group, a leading healthcare marketing firm in Atlanta, Ga.,
serving a national clientele. He can be reached at (800) 493-4490.
Ophthamology Management, Issue: December 2000