Home Dental When Dentistry Is in Under Fire: A Guide to Navigating Negative Headlines

When Dentistry Is in Under Fire: A Guide to Navigating Negative Headlines

by adminjay

Recently, a story made headlines about a dental patient who received an extreme amount of work done in a single visit and is now suing the dentist who performed the work for pain and suffering. Local and national news outlets picked up the story, featuring it in broadcasts, online, and on social media. Regardless of how people in the dental community view the story, the potential for it, or another story like it, to scare people who already distrust dentists is very real. We never want to focus on the negative but it could even be the tipping point for someone who is on the fence about seeking the dental care they need. So, what should dental practices do when there is negative press coverage about dentistry?

Challenge or Opportunity?

Negative press happens. Perhaps, it is not as common in dentistry as it might be in other fields. However, when a story about a dentist allegedly committing fraud or malpractice makes headlines, regardless of the context or the fairness of the reporting, it could impact your practice, but there is an opportunity to send a positive, reassuring message to your patients and your community.

You must first decide whether your practice will react to the news story or not. There is absolutely no harm in ignoring it completely. However, should patients start asking questions or the press contact your practice, it would be wise to have something prepared. On the other hand, being proactive in the face of negative press that concerns dentistry, especially if it hits close to home, can help to reassure people in the community that your practice is reputable and trustworthy. It is also an opportunity to be totally transparent about how your practice operates and show patients that they are safe in your care.

Make a Plan

Whether you choose to react to the story or not, I recommend meeting with your team to discuss what was reported and give them a protocol to follow for when patients have questions. Having a response protocol and communicating it with everyone on the team ensures that no one will be unprepared if a call should come in and that everyone is conveying the appropriate message. This is especially important if the story concerns your immediate market. In this case, the likelihood that patients will see the story and have questions is significantly higher, as is the possibility that a media person might call or come to the practice looking for a reaction.

Be Mindful of Your Message

If your practice chooses to react to a news story involving the dental profession, keep the message positive and focus on communicating trust and transparency. Even if you think the story is unfair, inaccurate, biased, or exaggerated, it would be unwise to use any of your practice’s communication platforms to share your take on the details or the people or businesses involved. Doing so is more likely to be met with negativity, even if your intention is to elucidate the situation. It is much better to concentrate your message on easing patients’ fears and reminding them that they can trust your practice.

As for the best way to convey your message, a social media post, email to patients, or blog post would be appropriate. However, a video would likely have the greatest impact and be perceived as most sincere. In all cases, the message should come directly from the doctor or doctors to reinforce trust and transparency. To ensure that you are conveying your message in the most appropriate way, it is a good idea to have your marketing partner review it before you post it or, better yet, have them craft the message for you.

Should you prefer to craft the message yourself, here are some pointers on how to ensure that it is appropriate.

  1. Make sure the tone of the message is reassuring and comes from a place of caring and compassion.
  2. Avoid statements that could be perceived as accusatory, controversial, or inflammatory.
  3. Reinforce your practice’s excellent reputation and track record of exceptional service.
  4. Emphasize your commitment to honesty and propriety in your practice.

When negative stories involving dentistry appear on social media and in the news, they have the potential to reinforce the fears and distrust that some people already have of dentists. Even if the story is biased or perhaps not completely accurate, it’s out there, and people will believe it. You can ignore the buzz and carry on, or you can use it as an opportunity to be transparent and show your patients and community that they can trust you. No matter what you choose to do, consulting your marketing partner about how to respond and preparing your team for phone calls and questions about the story is always a good strategy.

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