For healthcare brands, engaging physicians as subject matter experts for your content marketing and PR efforts is the holy grail. It can be extremely difficult to get 30 minutes of an overburdened physician leader’s or doctor’s time. So, when you are successful in securing time with a physician SME, it’s essential to make the most of every minute. Here’s how we’ve done this successfully for our healthcare clients.

1.      Identify potential opportunities in advance.

Track top-tier media trends. Review the editorial calendars for target publications, not just for the next month or two, but also farther out. Cultivate strong relationships with editors and talk with them about what types of stories they’re looking for to identify potential opportunities.

2.      Get the right people involved.

Identify the best SME to speak with about the chosen topic. Often, there may be multiple doctors within your organization who are knowledgeable about the topic. Consider each physician’s availability, ability to explain complex concepts in an accessible way, and willingness to help with marketing efforts to help you target the optimal SME for an interview.

Also consider who should be part of the interview to help maximize the use of the doctor’s input. For example, we try to have team members from both the media relations and content development sides of the house collaborate on physician SME input calls.

3.      Do your homework on the topic.

Research the topic(s) and make sure you’re up to speed on the conversation within the industry. You don’t want to waste whatever time the physician can give you having him or her explain things you can educate yourself about ahead of time. For example, if you’re going to ask a physician leader for his or her thoughts on how MACRA is affecting doctors, make sure you are familiar with the Quality Payment Plan (QPP) and its two value-based payment tracks, MIPS and APMs. You might even ask the doctor to suggest a couple of good articles on the topic that can help you prepare for the call.

4.      Prepare insightful questions.

As you are researching the topic, think strategically about what you want to get out of the call with your SME. Then prepare informed questions to make sure you get everything you need while you have the physician on the phone.

5.      Make the most of the input.

Use the information physician SMEs provide in as many ways as possible to maximize the value and impact of the call. A well-prepared, 30- to 60-minute input session with a doctor who is passionate about the topic can yield enough valuable information to generate interview and/or contributed article pitches, perhaps a LinkedIn article, one or more blog posts, and perhaps even a white paper or video. And each of those should be promoted via social media posts.

In our experience, physicians’ and physician leaders’ future receptivity to input requests is largely dependent on the volume and quality of the content you are able to create from previous input sessions and the degree of visibility that content generates for those SMEs.