5 Ways to Get a Difficult Doctor to Talk to You


Let’s say you have a great medical story to tell. Or you want to re-write physician biographies for your find-a-doctor page. Maybe you want a pull-quote from a physician for your new bariatrics page.

Only one problem: You’re having trouble finding a doctor to fill in the blanks. As marketers, we’ve all been there before — trying to track down some doctor who would rather perform surgeries and do their job than talk to us! (What nerve.)

If you find yourself in a cycle of “Why won’t they return my calls/emails/carrier pigeon requests?” here’s what you can do to try to start a conversation:

Explain what you’re doing

You’ve only got one chance to make a good first impression when you email a doctor to ask for an interview. A little flattery goes a long way. Tell the doctor why they’re the best person to talk to for this story or why you’re so excited to write their biography. Tell them you only need 20 minutes or less. Tell them they can review the piece before it goes online.

Ghostwrite

If the doctor isn’t responding to an interview request, see how much of the job you can get done without his or her input. Write something from scratch. Leave room for quotes. Send it to the doctor and see if you can get approval that way. If you send somebody something, at least you’re giving them something to react to.

Be flexible

The doctor you’re trying to get in touch with probably has a crazy, non-stop schedule. They might not be able to talk to you in the traditional 9-5 timeframe. That means you’ve got to match their “crazy” hours. Say you can do a 6 a.m. interview. Say you can talk at 9 p.m. Say you can talk on a Sunday. It’s a drag — but hey, like you said in your email to the doctor — it’ll only be 20 minutes.

Ask better questions

Let’s say you’ve finally gotten ahold of your doctor. During the interview, it’s your job to actually hold the doctor’s attention. If you’re working on their FAD, ask leading questions that inspire thought-provoking answers. Here are a few:

  • What makes you get out of bed each morning?

  • What do you love about your field?

  • Tell me about a time when you know you changed someone’s life.

  • Why do you think patients like coming to see you?

Find somebody else

Worst-case scenario: Radio silence from your doctor. After a month of non-responses to your follow-up emails and unreturned phone messages, it’s time to find someone. Ask the doctor if they can make a recommendation of who else you could speak to. (You’ll either get a name, or jolt that physician into finally agreeing to the interview.) Either way, you’ll get the interview.

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