PR: The ‘new normal’ superpower

I’ve worked in dentistry for 19 years this year.  This in itself will never fail to amuse me, because I still consider myself to be one of the ‘young ones’.  However, as I reflect on my time supporting the dental industry, never before have I seen such a reliance on – and the importance of – PR.

I remember my first role in dentistry, fresh from university graduating with a communications and media degree, as a PR executive for a French manufacturer of digital imaging equipment (who were later purchased by Kodak).  

During this time, I worked for a superb individual, Ann Verledens, who as a Marketing Director for the head office, was for me one of the most important women to shape my career: ambitious, challenging, intelligent – a real powerhouse of a marketeer and someone who truly helped me to understand the dental profession and how to communicate effectively within it.

Being heard through the noise

From those early days, I learned how brand-loyal dental professionals were, how they often stayed with the products and services they trained on at dental school, and that often marketing new products and services to them could be a challenge.  

I appreciated that an advert alone would never be enough to showcase the key USPs of a product or service to these individuals, particularly when they often were not in the market to consider any kind of product/ service switch, let alone read or consider copy on an advert.  

No, these advertisements alone would be a page turner. Instead, education was key and a carefully considered PR strategy absolutely essential to develop a relationship with the very people whom we hoped would one day become customers.  

There’s an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for; publicity is what you pray for.”

PR is about you and your customers

Public relations isn’t an easy profession to define. In fact, in 2012, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) accepted a few thousand submissions before finally agreeing on a definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics.”

When the pandemic hit, and practices closed, so many in the dental industry were forced to reconsider their marketing strategy, aware that they could no longer sell to practices while their doors were closed for those tough three months of lockdown.  

Instead, they looked at how they could reconsider their relationship and community management, building the bridge between their brands and their customers with valuable communications that would help and support them during this challenging time.

Tackling Covid ramifications head on

We launched our “10 steps to managing communications in a crisis” at this point, to help the dental industry to navigate this period – finding that so many were (many unintentionally) looking at PR to support them in ways that previously they may have inadvertently overlooked.

Those companies and individuals that embraced PR, through social media, blogs, newsletters, educational and supportive content, then in turn stayed in huge favour with their customers and were remembered for the time, care and patience they showed their customers during what was such a challenging period.  And this kindness and support were remembered when the brand marketing and sales messages were able to be reinstated – directly influencing sales and, ultimately, the bottom line of those businesses.

PR helped so many brands to navigate the crisis. It helped them to remain relevant to their customers and to build brand loyalty, reputation and a sense of community, at a time when we were all working remotely and couldn’t be together in person. 

The best is yet to come

You’d be hard pushed to find a company or individual who kept their focus on PR high during the last 18 months and who did not see the benefits.  For those who didn’t, we are certain they are feeling it – although they may not understand why.

We are always happy to have a chat with anyone who wants to build stronger, lasting relationships with their customers and to enhance their brand reputation and profile amongst dental professionals – to find the wonder in this ‘new normal’ superpower!

Gemma Barker

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