Article Date: 3/1/2010

How To Become a Highly Visible “Celebrity” Optometrist

How To Become a Highly Visible “Celebrity” Optometrist


By Lou Mancinelli, contributing editor

If you want to increase patient traffic, raise the profile of your practice and have more of an impact on your community, you must create a celebrity brand for yourself, says Jay Jessup, publicity and marketing specialist and author of the book Fame 101 (Sutton Hart Press, 2010).

“Americans want ultimate health, eternal youth, and are fascinated by celebrities; this drives the interest in and demand for high-visibility doctors,” says Mr. Jessup. “Business-minded medical practices capitalize on this and brand and publicize their doctors to the ‘Doc Stardom’ we see on the talk shows or speaking at local charity events.”

And what is the secret to such stardom?

“Whether you are an optometrist or Angelina Jolie, the key is you connect with other celebrities,” says Mr. Jessup.

While such a glamorous meeting might seem out of reach, Mr. Jessup says you can connect with a group such as the local political powerbase. How do you get these groups interested in you?

“You have to be able to differentiate yourself,” says Mr. Jessup. “You do this by creating a brand and publicity … Branding is the sum total of articles and books and things one does other than their work from nine to five.”

One of the keys to branding is consistency, says O.D. Gary Gerber, president of Power Practice, a consulting firm in New Jersey. “Look at strong brands like Campbell's or Coca-Cola. They are strong because they are consistent.”

“The first step is to pick a look and feel for your medical direction and your office,” says Dr. Gerber. The look of your office should match its feel. “Hollister looks like Hollister for a reason,” he says.

Speak up and speak clearly

Mr. Jessup suggests speaking at events such as the local Republican Women's Convention, for example. If you can speak about an eyecare issue and relate it to their meeting, this may generate a news article and a picture of the event, which should at the very least begin to lay a foundation for profitable results. These meetings aren't only about your speech — always be ready to hand out pamphlets and information about yourself.

When you are developing a brand, it's important to know your target audience, says Dr. Gerber. If it is young hip workers, speak at an office with cubicles about Computer Vision Syndrome, he says.

Mr. Jessup guides publicity and branding efforts for high-profile celebrities including New York Times best selling authors, celebrity lawyers and doctors and winning politicians. From his work, he developed a branding formula. The first step in this formula is to become articulate.

“We are not born ‘mediagenic,’ ” Mr. Jessup says. “All the politicians and actors you see on television are trained.”

That training is “what initially differentiated candidate Barack Obama and it is why Sanjay Gupta is America's most trusted physician,” says Mr. Jessup. The same is true for optometrists who want to make a local and regional brand for themselves and their practice.

“Presentation is essential,” says Gerber. “Train your staff. A 5-star restaurant and Denny's both present steaks a different way, and both are talked about.”

Elevate yourself

For any type of visibility, Mr. Jessup recommends publishing. “Our society elevates authors to a higher status,” he says. “A book becomes your best brochure.” And according to Mr. Jessup, non-fiction health is among the top three categories in gross book sales.

Mr. Jessup says doctors must publicize their brands whether it's with the local news or with “Oprah.” Offer expert opinion, write and promote a book or speak “with an exceptional sound of intelligence.” It's a small investment for the resulting publicity, says Mr. Jessup.

No matter how media-driven you become, never forget that the quality of care is the overriding issue — even with high-profile doctors.

“One-trick ponies last only a small time,” Mr. Jessup says. “People are good at recognizing authenticity. You need the basics. You can build using smoke and mirrors but it is not going to last a long time.”

For more information on branding, see “Don't Get Burned By Branding” on BUSINESS ADVISOR.

CIBA Vision Names VPs

■ CIBA Vision has recently appointed Jan Wagner as vice president of marketing for the company's Americas Region. She previously held various brand marketing director roles within the Novartis Over-The-Counter (OTC).

CIBA also named Eric Miller as vice president of communications and public relations for CIBA Vision's North America Region. Mr. Miller is charged with implementing a comprehensive and integrated communications strategy for the North America Region.

AVR Names Donnenfeld New CEO and Director

■ Advanced Vision Research (AVR), makers of TheraTears and MacuTrition, has named Neil D. Donnenfeld chief executive officer and director of the company.

Mr. Donnenfeld, 48, has extensive experience in the Woburn, Mass.-based company. He started with AVR in 1988 shortly after the company was originally formed to market and distribute TheraTears products over the counter. He most recently served as senior vice president of global sales and marketing. In these positions, he made significant contributions to the success of AVR, which has achieved 12 consecutive years of record sales and profits.

The company continues to move forward after the sudden loss of Jeffrey P. Gilbard, M.D., AVR's founder, CEO and chief scientific officer. “We will continue along the path blazed by Dr. Gilbard,” says Mr. Donnenfeld. “We have plenty of products in the pipeline to continue our robust product launch schedule.”

In addition, the company's research and development department, led by its recently appointed medical director, Eric Donnenfeld, M.D., continues to develop new advances in eye care treatment that make “a real point of difference in people's lives,” Mr. Donnenfeld says.

He added that AVR would maintain its close relationship with optometry, supporting the profession with samples, trade show exhibits and education. “Dr. Gilbard was an incredible friend to optometry — he loved to share his knowledge, energy, and passion with any optometrist who was interested in what he had to say,” says Mr. Donnenfeld. “That is a part of his magic that we will carry on.”

New Logo is a Plus for B+L

Bausch + Lomb recently unveiled its redesigned company logo and icon. Both incorporate hues of the company's traditional blue and green colors, while introducing the plus (+) symbol to represent the organization's strong commitment to innovation and partnership with practitioners as a leader in eye health.

Transitions “Never Loses Sight”


■ Even in challenging times, Winchester Optical believed that customers would spend more on a premium product if customers understood the benefits of the product. Putting words into actions, the family-owned company from Elmira, N.Y., increased sales of Transitions lenses by 20% last year and was named the 2009 U.S. Transitions Lab of the Year.

The lab was honored as part of the 14th annual Transitions Academy, recently held in Orlando, Fla. Transitions Optical presents the award to an independent lab to recognize the lab's marketing strategies, growth in volume and Transitions lenses market share mix, dedication to educating staff and customers and its commitment to Transitions products and programs.

More than 1,400 eyecare professionals from around the world attended the event in which Transitions provided healthy doses of both education and motivation. The theme of the meeting, “Never Lose Sight of the Possibilities” was echoed from the opening reception through to the final night's celebration at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Focused educational tracks

Educational sessions included tracks on marketing, meeting and adapting to consumer needs, partnering skills, specialized training for industry speakers and managed care. Many of the sessions were interactive, including a Disney Institute event where attendees created, starred and directed commercial spots about Transitions lenses.

Attendees learned about the company's new XTRActive lenses, the darkest everyday photochromic lenses available. Transitions will introduce the lenses this month in single vision and progressive designs. They will be available in polycarbonate, Trivex and 1.67 materials.

This year's managed vision care track, with the theme “See Well to Work Well: The Total Impact of Vision Benefits,” attracted about 170 vision plan provider representatives and broker customer. Track attendees learned of the impact of vision care on employee health and performance. The track included an introduction to the Healthy Sight Calculator and a presentation by Dr. Kovin Naidoo on his study, “Potential Lost Productivity Resulting from the Global Burden of Uncorrected Refractive Error.”

On the air

Transitions introduced two television commercials that will run through August. Both focus on the benefits that photochromic lenses provide wearers as they darken and fade back to adapt to varying lighting conditions. In one of the ads, PGA Tour professionals Trevor Immelman and Kenny Perry, both Healthy Sight Ambassadors, demonstrate how the lenses help them perform on and off the golf course, while reminding viewers that Transitions lenses are the official eyewear of the PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour and Champions Tour. The ads will appear regularly on the Golf Channel and during top-rated prime time shows such as “CSI.”

Transitions also unveiled its new consumer website,, which will feature videos and interactive demonstrations to illustrate the features of Transitions products. The site will leverage social media outlets as well. Company spokespersons will participate in and — blogs that will invite consumers to join the conversation. The company will expand beyond Facebook and Twitter to include YouTube and Flickr to drive dialogue about eye health and Transitions lenses.

Clompus Joins CooperVision as VP

CooperVision named Richard Clompus, O.D., F.A.A.O., vice president, global professional relations within CooperVision's Global Commercial Strategy team. Dr. Clompus will support clinical studies, education, and professional affairs on a worldwide basis in order to further establish CooperVision's position in the global contact lens industry.

Dr. Clompus most recently served as director of The Vision Care Institute, LLC. Prior to that, he held leadership positions within J&J's Spectacle Lens Group and Vistakon.

Dr. Clompus was also in private practice for 20 years, establishing an innovative optometric practice in West Chester, Pa., providing multidisciplinary eye care and contact lens specialty services. He has exceptional expertise in the use of multimedia technologies for presentations and training. In addition, he has published many journal articles. He is a member of the American Optometric Association, charter member of the AOA Contact Lens Section, and Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2010