The Pubic Relations Society of America defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This includes any and all activities that are undertaken to build brand awareness and credibility that drives consumer spending, demand for treatments, and patient referrals. This can be accomplished via consumer media outreach.

PR professionals spend their days pitching, setting up interviews and following up with editors to score valuable earned media for their clients. Earned media is precisely what the name implies –coverage in the lay or consumer press that is attained by merit, luck, or happenstance, rather than being bought.

Importantly, public relations and search engine optimization (SEO) are not one in the same. An SEO professional’s role is to increase search visibility for clients on Google and other search relevant engines. This is a data-driven role. By contrast, PR is more about relationship building using verbal and visual skill sets.

Many practices may seek to go it alone when it comes to garnering media coverage. Only a true PR professional who has experience writing press releases that get noticed and not deleted, and has developed strong relationships with local and national editors and producers can get your practice on the media’s radar. If you decide to hire an individual or a PR firm to handle your public relations needs, make sure that they do have relationships with beauty editors, magazines, television shows and online outlets you are targeting. A PR pro can also let you know if your expectations are realistic and can be achieved with a PR campaign, in the same way that you can tell your patients whether their goals are realistic and will be met with a given plastic surgery procedure.

Ask colleagues or any journalists you know for names of PR professionals they enjoy working with and ones they do not. This can help you make an informed decision on whom to hire. Remember great placements don’t happen overnight. Give the firm ample time to dazzle you with their prowess; set aside a minimum of 6-12 months to gain traction.