I spoke to a group of academic physicians recently. Afterward I was and asked, “Shouldn’t my hospital be responsible for my digital footprint? I don’t have time to look after that sort of thing. And wouldn’t it make sense for them to promote my research?”
1. Online reputation management of academic physicians should be an individual, not institutional, responsibility. The question reflects a belief that your reputation is the job of “the marketing people.” No institution will ever be as invested in your future as you are. While there are hospitals that do a good job supporting their faculty and staff, you can’t assume it to be the case. No one looks after you like you.
2. Dig your well before you’re thirsty. That’s the name of a brilliant pre-digital book written by Harvey Mackey. He suggested that the time to invest in relationships is before you need them. Medicine is changing fast and you’ll never know how long you’ll be where you’re at. Better yet, you never know what opportunities could come your way when people find you. And if you want to experience the land before time when people used colored pencils, Rolodexes, and rotary phones, read Dig Your Well.
2. If you want to be taken care of, help ‘em out. As it turns out hospital and medical school public affairs staff are always looking for great stories that reflect what’s happening on the inside. Speak up, tell ‘em your story, and let them do the heavy lifting. In all likelihood their blog/property searches well and their story about your would represent one more line on page 1 of Google. This is a way that you can take responsibility while leveraging those with a mutual interest.
3. Perhaps institutions should think about footprints. As I was writing this I got to thinking that it would make some sense for a hospital system to take some ownership of the searchable content of its staff. It makes sense than an institution would want its staff to show well on search page 1. Admittedly this is a long-term play but it wouldn’t be too far out of line to support/strongly encourage/incent the maintenance of active, up-to-date LinkedIn and Doximity profiles for medical staff. With enough doctors on board you can create a group for your institution on LinkedIn. Mandatory ‘introductory’ videos stocked on an institution’s YouTube page would represent an easy, searchable win for everyone involved and would offer a valuable service to potential patients. I wonder if a modicum of effort by a hospital would yield cumulative results for an institution?
Ultimately if you don’t create the stuff of your choosing you’re leaving your image to someone else’s discretion. While it’s fine to look for help, think about what you can write, record, or create so that the world better understands you when they come looking.