Getting media coverage can be a great means of increasing your pharmacy's public profile.
With the help of our local spokespeople, we are working to promote pharmacy in general, however, there are also opportunities for you to promote your business through the media.
You may want to consider the following media options for promoting your pharmacy using the media: writing press releases, becoming a press spokesperson, writing to the editor or being interviewed for TV or radio.
Getting published in the newspaper
Supplying a press release or column to your local or regional paper is an effective way to get your pharmacy in the public eye.
The media are more likely to publish a press releases that:
- Provides a human interest story e.g. you and your team have helped a patient give up smoking or lose weight
- Is timely – be on the ball and actively respond to current news stories e.g. last summer there was lots of press about sun cream being ineffective unless applied really thickly. This is the perfect opportunity to provide correct information
- Identify a story that doesn’t just shout about you – try to promote pharmacy in general e.g. draw attention to the fact that people with common and minor ailments could see their local pharmacy instead of clogging up GP waiting rooms
Additional coverage opportunities you may want to write about:
- Official opening of a new pharmacy
- Relocation or refit
- Anniversary e.g. 25 years of service or other company ‘landmarks’
- Staff news – training awards etc
- Sponsorship initiatives e.g. sponsoring a school’s summer fete brochure or donating funds to a local cause
- New service launch events
- Taking part in local campaigns e.g. NPA’s Ask your Pharmacist Week
- The UK has literally hundreds of awareness days or weeks for conditions that pharmacies can piggyback to promote services they provide
- Visit from a local dignitary – MP, local councillor, Mayor
Writing a Press Release
If the thought of constructing a press release sounds too difficult, help is at hand.
The NPA has produced a range of press release and press column templates on a wide range of health topics. We also provide recommendations, where suitable, on the best time of year to use a particular template.
If you would like to write the press release yourself, here are a few tips that may help:
Format and layout
- Head it ‘Press Release’ or ‘News Release’ and put the date on the top.
- Type ‘End’ at the foot of the release.
- Put your name, address and contact numbers (preferably for both day and evening) at the top or bottom of the press release.
- Stick to one page of A4, if possible. If you have to go to two pages, type ‘more’ at the bottom of the first page. This is not relevant if you email the release, but gives you a guide for length.
- Do not send your release as an attachment email. Like you, journalists are very pressed for time and won’t open them. However, if you want to add a photograph, it must be sent as an attachment, preferably in jpg or eps format, with a resolution of at least 300 dpi and not too heavy on memory – ideally below 1mb.
- Keep the press release clear, factual and concise. Avoid descriptive terms, clichés, or fancy adjectives.
- Put your main point of interest first. Add background lower down in the order of importance – least important last.
- Give the release a clear title, e.g. ‘Local MP opens pharmacy’ or ‘Local pharmacy under threat’.
- Include local information/statistics/anecdotes where possible; this is the magic ingredient for local media.
- If appropriate, provide a quote, either from yourself or a relevant representative in the local community. Bear in mind that quotes should add something to the story.
Become a spokesperson
Journalists will often want quotes from professionals to support a story. Due to the fast-paced nature of news, journalists usually build up a list of reliable ‘goto’ people – something pharmacists can exploit.
Pharmacists can look to build relationships with the media through their work, for example, Shaheen Bhatia, founder of P&S Chemist, became a go-to person for the media following her campaign work for ethnic minority women’s issues.
Shaheen advises: ‘You need to be ready to have a view on most topics, or watch the local news to consider what reporters might want to talk about. It may feel inconvenient but, for having your business on the map, this is a good price to pay.’
Letters to the editor
Letters to the editor are also a good vehicle to consider. Because local papers love creating traction around an issue, with follow-ups to previous stories, responding quickly to local issues is an avenue you may wish to pursue.
TV & Radio Interviews
Before you agree to be interviewed for radio or TV we recommend you ask the following questions:
- Ask for the name of the programme and when it will be broadcast.
- Will it be a regional or national?
- Will the interview be live or pre-recorded?
- How long will the interview last?
- Can it be done remotely or will you have to travel to the studio?
- Ask who will be interviewing you, what they want to cover and what the editorial stance is
- How will your interview fit into the structure of the programme? What is your role to be?
- Ask who else is being interviewed – will somebody be asked to give a different or opposing view?
- What questions will be asked? These may not have been decided in advance, but it is good to be prepared
- Take some time to note down the main points that you want to make – three key points at most.
- Try to anticipate any potentially tricky questions and think how you will deal with these areas.
If you require advice on conducting the interview the Communications Team are able to help call 01727 800405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tips and advice.
- Arrive early – If you are to be interviewed in a studio, arrive in good time. This will give you the opportunity to meet the interviewer and any other guests, and will also allow you to gather your thoughts ahead of the interview. If you are being interviewed in the pharmacy, make sure you will not be disturbed during the interview
- You are the expert – The journalist will not know as much about pharmacy as you do so go into the interview recognising this. It will help you to relax
- Think about your tone of voice – the ideal effect to aim to sound friendly and approachable yet authoritative
- Don’t lose control – If you’re challenged on a particular topic that doesn’t relate to your area of expertise or it’s something that you don’t want to answer…. don’t. It’s ok to say “I’m unable to answer that” or better still, bring it back to your key messages: “That’s an interesting question but today I’m here to speak about…”
- If you don’t understand or don’t hear a question properly ask the interviewer to repeat it
- Make your points early on – interviews usually pass very quickly and you can easily find that you are out of time when you still want to make an important point
- Make it memorable – give examples. These will help to bring what you are saying to life
- In pre-recorded interviews, do not assume the interview is over – The tape recorder may still be running and it is not unheard of for the off-the-cuff comments to be included as part of the interview
- Don’t dwell on mistakes – If you do say something that you wish you hadn’t, don’t repeat it, this will only emphasise it. Clarify your comment quickly and move on
- Avoid speaking on behalf of everyone – Remember you’re being interviewed as an individual pharmacist. If you’re asked to comment on behalf of the sector as a whole, it’s ok to say that it’s not in your remit to do this
- Listen – It sounds obvious but when taking part in interviews, it’s easy to get caught up in your key messages and not actually listen to the questions. When the journalist asks a question, it’s ok to take a few seconds to digest the question, just as you would in a normal conversation
- Be clear and concise – Try not to ramble and stick to the point. Speaking in short sentences will help you to do this
- Think of your audience – Although you’re an expert, your interviewer and the listener probably have limited knowledge of pharmacy. Be mindful of this and avoid acronyms and complicated phrases
- Be enthusiastic! You obviously have a passion about pharmacy – this is what people want to hear