How Your Practice Can Learn Community Relations from Big Business


Fortune 500 companies spend millions of dollars on community relations efforts each year. Not only do countless communities benefit from these efforts, but the participating companies receive an image boost and increased public awareness of the company in return.

Fortunately, some of these community relations efforts can be scaled down to achieve similar gains for both your practice and community. Today we look at such efforts from four Fortune 500 companies and learn how to translate them to the practice level.

Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®
McDonald’s operates a fleet of state-of-the-art mobile healthcare vehicles offering medical services to vulnerable youth. These vehicles currently operate in 39 communities in six countries: the U.S., Argentina, New Zealand, Poland, Thailand and Latvia. Services are tailored to meet the health needs of each unique population.

Unfortunately, you aren’t likely to own a massive fleet of state-of-the-art vehicles, but you can still offer free health services to the community in the form of health screenings. These can be general health screenings or community specific screenings, such as STD testing for a community with a high prevalence of STDs.

Offer these screenings at a popular local event or set aside a few weekend days a year to perform free screenings at the practice.

teamGM Cares Week
This past September, General Motors held it’s first teamGM Cares Week. Some 4,250 GM employees from around the nation took part in over 100 community service projects. These projects ranged from cleaning up riverbanks in Kokomo, Ind., to collecting canned goods in New York City.

Piggyback off of this idea by instituting a cares week, or weekend, at your practice with staff members taking part in various community projects. Letting your staff choose the efforts they want to participate in will increase their involvement in the cares week. And of course, it’ll help if you participate as well.

Home Depot Weekly Workshops
Each weekend at locations across the nation, Home Depot offers free workshops to educate people on topics like deck staining and installing mosaic backsplashes. Through education in its field of expertise, Home Depot connects with members of the community who may not yet be customers.

As a physician, your expertise lies in healthcare, so take advantage of any available chance to educate members of the community about health. This could involve giving a presentation about the importance of good hygiene at a local grammar school or participating in a community panel discussion about healthcare issues.

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
With a mission to provide “enrichment opportunities in support of exceptional people’s thirst for knowledge,” the foundation supports over 1,400 college students each year and awards over $3.4 million worth of scholarships annually.

While you may not be able to fund scholarships, supplying internship opportunities for local college students accomplishes the same goals set forth in the Coca-Cola mission, just in a different way. Instead of supplying financial assistance, you’re supplying students of the community with a hands-on education experience.

Internships don’t just have to be for students in the medical field either. For example, you could bring in a public relations major to help foster awareness of the practice.

So, instead of purchasing ads in a community newsletter or buying new signage, engage in community relations efforts to satisfy your civic responsibility while raising awareness of your practice.

Pair these community relations efforts with self-implemented public relations tactics to gain additional public exposure and you’ll really have a chance to show off your practice as a true asset to the community.

It’s awareness gained for all the right reasons.

Want more about improving image and gaining exposure? Check out the Physician’s Guide to Marketing