By Scott Lorenz
A few years ago Sanjay Gupta passed on the job to be the next Surgeon General and decided to keep his job at CNN. Can you blame him? Being a TV Doc is a good gig if you can get it. You get to influence millions of people and you get to keep practicing medicine. Furthermore, you can improve your reputation which increases your demand for your services as a doctor in the process. What’s not to like?
How does one prepare for that type of job should an opportunity arise?
If you are a doctor who’s been on TV and has produced news segments or shows you’ve got a shot at it. If not well sorry, you’re not in the running.
First, let’s diagnose the situation. Have you appeared on TV before? Are you the “go-to” doctor in your market area when the media needs a quote about a medical issue? If so, great. If not, why not? Doctors who want to get a higher profile and snag a TV job need to create a strategy that includes getting PR for their own practice and procedures. They need to aggressively go after the medical news stories of the day by contacting media outlets in their immediate area and offering themselves as experts. If they are not comfortable pitching a story to a producer they need to hire a publicist who can do it for them.
These are just a few of the steps to begin laying the groundwork for that TV-News-Doctor position. Believe me, CNN, FOX or any other network will not be replacing their TV doctors with a person who is new to the TV news business. And Sanja Gupta is the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to his credibility, experience, and longevity. Understandably, they’ll hire someone who is already experienced with a track record of delivering medical news on local affiliates.
As a medical publicist having introduced numerous elective surgery procedures to the media including Ultrasonic Liposuction, Endoscopic Breast Augmentation, LASIK, Laser Vaginal Tightening, and Dental Implants, I have a pretty good idea of what TV media is looking for. What is it? A good story. A story that can be told with good visuals, real people, real emotions all while providing useful information.
A TV doctor must be able to communicate sincerity, empathy and helpful actionable information. That doctor needs to be enthusiastic, charismatic and most importantly believable.
Jess Todtfeld, President of Success in Media and a former FOX News Producer says, “If you are looking to be a TV doctor, you need charisma, knowledge and the ability to communicate effectively.” Todtfeld produced thousands of segments for ABC, NBC and FOX News including FOX and Friends and Bill O Reilly.
Says Todtfeld, “No matter what they do, it always comes down to charisma and knowledge. Let’s start with knowledge. Viewers really need to have the sense that this doctor has all the answers. Most TV doctors do extra research before their segment to give the most up to date information as they can to the viewers. Likeability is the second, but just as important. TV viewers need to feel that this is their doctor. They need to feel like this new person is a friend giving advice. Look at Dr. Phil. Although he’s not a medical doctor, he has charm, charisma, and a true likeability factor.”
What about looks? Does a TV doctor have to be good looking? “Although it couldn’t hurt,” says Todtfeld, “people want smart medical advice from someone they trust and good looks help with the trust factor.”
As a media trainer Todtfeld gives his clients the tools they need to be confident on TV so they become able to convey honesty, integrity and all the characteristics one needs to communicate effectively.
The bottom line: If you want to become a TV doctor start now to lay the groundwork and put a plan into action. Get media training, produce segments for local TV affiliates and then share that plan with others who can help you. Start now!
About Scott Lorenz
Scott Lorenz, is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with doctors and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors, doctors, lawyers, authors inventors and entrepreneurs and is an integral part of the strategy for many doctors in their medical practice marketing. Learn more about Westwind Communications medical marketing approach at www.westwindcos.com/medical or contact Lorenz at [email protected] or by phone at 734-667-2090.