10 Press-Worthy Local Event Ideas for Dental Offices

Designed to Connect With and Grow their Standing in the Community

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Community Campaigns for Dental Practices: Ideas, Planning, and Execution

With national holidays, in-office birthdays, and case results photos, there is definitely no shortage of social media and blog post ideas for dental offices going into the holiday season as well as the coming year. We've written about them extensively, and hopefully, your calendar is choke-full of content you can use to connect with current and potential new guests on social media. But what if your office is looking to do more than share photos on Facebook and Instagram? What if you want to go beyond the minimum and really connect with your community in a meaningful and, ultimately, 'marketable' way? Let's look at ten dental marketing ideas for real-world events your office can host, participate in and share the results of online. 

TLDR: Wondering what these ideas are? Find out complete list below.

  • Halloween Candy Buyback Program
  • Christmas Toy Drive
  • Oral Cancer Awareness Drive
  • Mouthguards for Young Athletes Program
  • Join a Local Marathon or Fun Run
  • Start a Dental Scholarship
  • Host a Chamber of Commerce Event
  • Discount Program for Public Servants
  • Host a Local Industry Meetup or Workshop
  • Partner with a Local Charity

If you're still unclear on what sets these ideas apart from your typical social media posts ideas for dentists, just think of it this way: These are events or programs that would typically necessitate issuing a Press Release. In other words, these that take real planning and participation on your dental team's part but can also afford endless opportunities for social media content, building your website authority and reputation online, as well as an opportunity to connect with prospective patients and their families in the community for long-term practice growth.

Below, we attempt to explain each program idea in detail, including how to plan, promote, execute, and ultimately benefit from your efforts. As mentioned, much of what we write about are events that are considered "press-worthy", so learning how to write a good Press Release is definitely helpful (although optional), and connecting with local journalists and other local businesses in your area to promote your campaign is even better. At the end of the day, though - Have fun! If all you end up with from the fruits of your labor is a handful of great pictures for social media, some great memories and team bonding, you can safely call your event a success!

1.- Halloween Candy Buy-back Program

Concept: With Halloween just around the bend, let's seize the moment. Sugar is notoriously harmful for dental health, and on Halloween, our children are inundated with it. While one night of candy indulgence may not lead to immediate dental issues, it sets a concerning tone for the upcoming sugar-laden holiday season. Here's where your dental office can make a difference with a Halloween Candy Buy-back program.

Encourage children to visit your clinic the day after Halloween and trade in their surplus candy for cash or healthier items as part of a "sweet swap". This not only promotes better oral health, but it also offers a delightful opportunity for photo sessions and interaction with potential future clients. Plus, what child wouldn't relish the chance to don their Halloween attire once more and earn some money in the process?

Execution: First off, define the terms of the buy-back. Establish a date and time (usually the day after Halloween or Monday if Halloween falls on the weekend) and a value for each ounce or pound of candy sold. We don't have specific advise for this, but if the national average amount of candy a child collects on Halloween is over 3 pounds, you might expect each child to bring in and sell back about 2 pounds of candy and we've seen previous organizers offer between $2 to $5 per pount.

Try to plan the event for the latter part of the day (between 3-5 pm) so that children can stop by after they finish school. Encourage the team at the front desk to also dress up for Halloween and have a kitchen scale and a large stack of one and five-dollar bills at the ready. Children will arrive at the specified time, (hopefully in their costumes), and you simply weigh and pay for the candy. Be sure to ask if they would be willing to pose for a picture and, of course, get parental consent before posting photos online. 

Promotion: Create both a digital and physical flyer that can be shared online and posted in the office with a link or QR code to the event posted on either Facebook or Eventbrite. You can also consider sharing the event as a Google Post on your business profile, listing the event with the local chamber of commerce, or creating a form on your website for signups. This will help you get a sense of how many kids are coming and plan accordingly. As with most of the events we will be talking about, issue a Press Release and spread the word to as many local journalists as possible. Get the staff involved. Ask them to reshare the event with their friends and family on their social media accounts or just spread the word verbally.

Benefits: By participating in a Halloween Candy Buyback Program, not only are you fighting tooth decay, but also connecting with local, future prospective patients. These children will have a positive association with visiting the dentist to look back on and more trust in your staff and doctors. Parents will also have your practice front-of-mind for future dental care and know that you care about supporting the community and their child's oral care journey. By spreading the word on social media, you'll build authority on your website, have a ton of great content to share online and get extra exposure through the press release, all for a simple investment of what will likely be less than a few hundred dollars.

2.- Christmas Toy Drive

Concept: The festive season is synonymous with joy, love, and the spirit of giving. What better way for your dental practice to embody this spirit than by initiating a toy drive, aiming to make the holidays brighter for less fortunate children in your community

Execution: Start by allocating a welcoming corner of your waiting room for the toy drive. Adorn it with festive decorations, perhaps a Christmas tree, under which donations can be placed. As December begins, kick off your drive. Engage your staff in the process, perhaps initiating the collection with their contributions, setting a heartwarming example for your patients. It's essential to set a tangible timeline, ideally concluding the drive a week before Christmas, allowing ample time for distribution. Partner with a local charity, an organization like Operation Homefront, Toys for Tots or a children's shelter to ensure the gifts reach those who need them most. Remember, the goal is to transform the generosity of your community into tangible gifts for underserved children who might otherwise go without.

Promotion: A blend of digital and traditional promotional avenues can maximize reach. Design festive posters to adorn your office and share event details on your social media platforms. Consider collaborating with local businesses or community influencers by contacting them on Facebook or Instagram and, ensuring mutual promotional benefits. A gentle mid-month reminder, focusing on the joy and spirit of giving, could rejuvenate the drive's momentum. Proper planning is essential for a toy drive because when it comes to organizing the delivery of the toys and staff availability around the holidays.  Be sure to be cognizant that not all of your guests may celebrate Christmas in its traditional form so consider using the phrase "Holiday Toy Drive" instead.

Benefits: While the act of giving is its reward, such community-centric initiatives fortify the bond between your practice and the local populace. By investing in community welfare, your practice will be seen in a compassionate, positive light. The narrative of community upliftment and genuine care also serves as a compelling story for local media outlets and your digital channels.

3.- Oral Cancer Awareness Drive

Concept: With the rising incidence of oral cancer, awareness and early detection can be life-saving. Organizing a awareness campaign dedicated to this cause can be your practice's way of safeguarding the community's health. Try to target an April launch date to align with Oral Cancer Awareness Month in the US.

Execution: Dedicate a day or even a week in your practice, or if space constraints exist, collaborate with a local community center to offer free screenings. It's imperative not just to screen but to educate. Hold in-person or online educational sessions where interested individuals can learn about the early signs, preventive measures, and the critical role regular dental visits play in early detection. Additionally, equip them with informative pamphlets or brochures that they can share with family and friends, amplifying the drive's impact.

Promotion: Harness the power of your digital presence. Begin by raising awareness about oral cancer on your platforms. As the event date approaches, shift the narrative to focus on the details and significance of the drive. Local health influencers or bloggers can be potent allies, helping broaden your reach. An effective strategy could be a series of posts or articles that highlight survivor stories, statistics, or even myth-busting facts about oral cancer. If you have team members or patients that have been affected by oral cancer and feel comfortable sharing their story, encourage them to provide a brief interview for YouTube or your other social media channels.

Benefits: Such initiatives are a testament to a healthcare practice's commitment to community welfare. Not only does it enhance trust, but it also underscores the practice's role as a proactive healthcare provider. This proactive approach, combined with the compelling narrative of community care, can garner positive press attention and engender goodwill among current and prospective patients.

4.- Mouthguards for Local Athletes

Concept: Sports injuries can often result in dental emergencies. By advocating for dental protection among local athletes, particularly school sports teams, your practice can play a crucial role in injury prevention. 

Execution: National Mouth Guard Day is celebrated every year on the first Monday of September so this is a great time to plan if possible, however any day or week will work. It should also be noted that April is National Facial Protection Month. Forge partnerships with local schools and sports organizations. Outreach is essential to a successful campaign so start planning a few weeks early by visiting local schools and youth athletics programs. 

On the day of the event, athletes (hopefully decked out in their team jerseys!) can visit your practice to get custom-fitted mouthguards. Simultaneously, educate them on the importance of dental safety in sports, possibly showcasing real-life examples or statistics to emphasize the potential risks of going without these cheap but, effective protective devices.

Promotion: Engage with school athletic departments and local sports clubs, ensuring they're equipped with all event details. On your social media platforms, highlight the significance of dental protection in sports, perhaps through engaging visuals or infographics. If possible, collaborate with local sports celebrities or influencers who can champion the cause, amplifying the event's visibility.

Benefits: Such an initiative not only foregrounds the practice's commitment to community health but also cements a relationship with local schools and sports entities. Through this event, the practice can resonate with young athletes and their families, positioning itself as a community-conscious and proactive healthcare provider. This community integration, combined with the potential for media coverage, ensures a win-win situation for all involved.

5.- Join a Local 5K, Turkey Trot, or Fun Run to Benefit Charity

Concept: Engaging in community events not only showcases your commitment to health but also to the community's broader well-being. Participating in or even sponsoring local runs, especially those for charity, can bring about dual benefits of health and goodwill. Not only that, but participating as a team shows camaraderie outside the work environment and gives your patients a chance to meet the team outside the office.

Execution: Round up your staff and commit to participating as a team. Don your practice's branded t-shirts, perhaps even designing special ones for the occasion. This not only fosters team spirit but also acts as mobile advertising. Should you choose to sponsor the event, consider setting up a stall or tent offering free dental care samples or even a quick dental checkup. Use this as an opportunity to educate runners and attendees on the importance of oral hygiene in overall health.

Here are some great resources for finding a charitable run to participate in!

  1. Road Race Runner - Can search by State.
  2. Race Mob - Can search by Location and Race Type.
  3. The American Cancer Society Events. Find your perfect event by location or keyword.
  4. LiveStrong.com National Events.

Promotion: Leading up to the event, document your team's preparations on social media - be it training runs, t-shirt designs, or even the day's agenda. Engage with the event's official social media platforms, ensuring that they tag or mention your practice in relevant posts. Furthermore, consider collaborating with local fitness influencers, ensuring they promote the event and your practice's participation.

Benefits: Beyond fostering camaraderie among staff, such participation reinforces your image as a health-focused and community-driven practice. Engaging directly with the community during such events offers a chance to connect with prospective patients. It also creates a plethora of promotional content for your channels and garners positive local media attention. 

6.- Create a Dental Scholarship

Concept: Investing in the future is a commendable endeavor. Offering a scholarship for aspiring dental students or even for local students based on merit or need can cement your practice's reputation as forward-thinking and community-centric.

Execution: Define the criteria clearly, whether it's for students pursuing dental studies or broader academic achievements. Collaborate with local educational institutions, ensuring that they promote the scholarship among eligible students. When the time comes, hold a small event at your practice or the partnering institution to award the scholarship, celebrating the student's achievements.

Running a dental scholarship takes a lot of work but in terms of building goodwill, website authority and helping the next generation of dentists, this is near the top of the list for events you can participate in. Here is a very simplified 10-step process to running and promoting a successful dental scholarship.

  1. Define Scholarship Objective and Eligibility: Determine the purpose of the scholarship (e.g., supporting underprivileged students, promoting oral health awareness, or supporting dental students). Set clear eligibility criteria: GPA requirements, dental-related field of study, socio-economic factors, community involvement, etc.
  2. Decide Scholarship Amount and Duration: Set a fixed amount or percentage of tuition fees. Determine if the scholarship will be a one-time award or renewable annually.
  3. Design an Application Process: Draft application forms with required sections such as personal details, academic achievements, essays, or references. Decide on the documentation required for the application, e.g., academic transcripts, proof of enrollment, recommendation letters.
  4. Form a Selection Committee: Assemble a group of professionals from your dental office and perhaps from outside (e.g., community leaders or educators) to review and judge applications.
  5. Promote the Scholarship: Create promotional materials like flyers, posters, and digital content. Share information on your dental office website, local schools, colleges, community centers, and social media platforms.
  6. Establish Application Deadlines and Review Timelines: Set a fixed application window (e.g., Jan 1 to March 31). Determine when the selection committee will review applications and decide on recipients (e.g., by end of May).
  7. Engage in Community Outreach: Collaborate with local schools, colleges, and community organizations to spread the word. Hold informational sessions or workshops to guide students through the application process.
  8. Review and Select Recipients: Organize regular meetings for the selection committee to discuss and evaluate applications. Set criteria for ranking applications such as academic achievement, community involvement, and quality of essays.
  9. Notify Recipients and Non-recipients: Send congratulatory letters or emails to scholarship recipients. Ensure non-recipients also receive a thank you note for their participation and encourage them to apply again next year, if applicable.
  10. Post-Scholarship Follow-Up: Consider organizing a small award ceremony or event to honor the recipients. Encourage feedback from recipients about the scholarship process to make improvements for future years. Track recipients' academic progress or other agreed-upon criteria if the scholarship is renewable.

Promotion: Start by announcing the scholarship on your website and social media platforms. Use engaging visuals or even video testimonials from previous winners if applicable. Regularly update the community about the application process, ensuring maximum visibility and engagement. Collaborate with the partnering schools or colleges, ensuring they amplify the scholarship's reach.

Benefits: This initiative reinforces the practice's commitment to education and community growth. It's an excellent avenue for favorable press coverage and word-of-mouth marketing. The goodwill generated can lead to increased loyalty among current patients and pique the interest of potential ones.

7.- Host an Event at the Chamber of Commerce

Concept: Networking is pivotal in business growth. Hosting an event at your local Chamber of Commerce can position your practice as an industry leader and community advocate. Here three event ideas for events you can host at a local chamber of commerce.

  • "Smile & Success" Luncheon:
  • Seminar on the role of dental health in business interactions and negotiations.
  • Quick dental screenings booth.
  • Networking session with guest speakers from both the dental and business fields.
  • "Brush Up on Business" Mixer:
  • Evening gathering with dental trivia as an icebreaker.
  • Showcase of the latest dental products and technologies.
  • Business card raffle with dental services or products as prizes.
  • "Morning Dental Strategies" Breakfast:
  • Breakfast featuring tooth-friendly foods.
  • Mini-workshops on dental health for professionals.
  • Panel discussion linking dental health, overall well-being, and business productivity.

Execution: Plan a valuable event, such as a workshop on the importance of dental health in overall wellness, or perhaps a talk on the latest advancements in dental care. Engage your team, ensuring they are active participants, fostering their growth while showcasing your practice's collective expertise. Beyond dental professionals, invite local business leaders, aiming for a holistic event that benefits all attendees.

Promotion: Ensure the event is prominently featured on your website and social media. Collaborate with the Chamber of Commerce's promotional channels, maximizing the event's visibility. As the event date approaches, consider running a local ad campaign, perhaps highlighting a key speaker or topic that would be of interest to the community.

Benefits: Such events cement your standing in the local business community. It showcases your practice's dedication to education, networking, and community growth. The increased visibility can result in new partnerships, potential dental patients, and positive media coverage.

8.- Discounts for Firefighters, Police Officers, Active Military, and Teachers

Concept: Recognizing and rewarding community heroes can resonate deeply with both existing and prospective patients. Offering discounts to such indispensable members of society not only fosters goodwill but also underscores your practice's values.

Execution: Define the specifics of the discount program: the extent of the discount, the duration, and any other conditions. Inform your staff thoroughly, ensuring that they can address any questions or scenarios that arise. Set up a dedicated section in your waiting room, celebrating these community heroes, further promoting the initiative. Here are five ideas for inspiration:\

  1. Heroic Smiles Discount: Offer a 20% discount on all dental procedures for Firefighters, Police Officers, Active Military, and Teachers.
  2. Brave Bites Preventative Program: Provide free bi-annual teeth cleanings and check-ups for our community's everyday heroes.
  3. Service-to-Smile Upgrade: For every standard service booked, upgrade to a premium service (e.g., from a regular cleaning to a deep cleaning) at no extra charge.
  4. Family Dental Deal: Extend a 15% discount on dental treatments to the immediate family members of Firefighters, Police Officers, Active Military, and Teachers.
  5. Annual Heroic Health Day: Dedicate one day a year where all dental services are offered at a flat 50% discount for these dedicated professionals.

Promotion: Leverage your digital channels, announcing the program and its specifics. Consider crafting special profiles or stories of some of the heroes benefiting from the discount, humanizing the initiative further. Reach out directly to local departments or institutions, ensuring they are aware and can communicate the program to their personnel.

Benefits: Such a gesture can garner immense goodwill in the community. It reinforces your practice's values, commitment, and gratitude towards local heroes. This community-centric approach, coupled with the potential media coverage, can significantly elevate your practice's reputation and standing. 

9.- Create an Industry Meetup or Workshop

Concept: Industry meetups or workshops provide an avenue for local dentists and related professionals to come together, share insights, and foster collaboration. Positioning your practice as a hub for such knowledge exchange can elevate its reputation and standing in the dental community.

Here are a few ideas for how to setup your Meetup or Workshop:

  1. Local Chamber of Commerce: They often have resources and contacts to help organize business-related events, and they can promote the meetup or workshop to local businesses.
  2. Dental Associations: National or state dental associations, such as the American Dental Association (ADA) or state-specific counterparts, can offer guidance, speakers, and possibly even sponsorship opportunities
  3. Eventbrite or Meetup: These online platforms allow you to organize, promote, and manage event registrations. They can also help increase visibility for your event among professionals looking for industry-related activities.
  4. Local Universities & Dental Schools: Collaborating with educational institutions can provide access to facilities, student volunteers, and even educators or professionals as speakers or attendees.
  5. Social Media Groups: Joining local dental or healthcare professional groups on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn can be an effective way to promote the event, engage with potential attendees, and gather input on desired topics or speakers.

Execution: Identify topics or areas of interest that are currently relevant in the dental industry. It could be new technologies, best practices, or even discussions about industry regulations. Secure a comfortable space, either in your practice or a rented venue, and organize all logistics such as seating, audio-visual equipment, and refreshments. Invite notable speakers from the industry or even from your team to facilitate sessions or discussions.

Promotion: Design engaging online invitations and distribute them through your practice's email list and on social media platforms. Encourage colleagues and other professionals to spread the word. Collaborate with dental associations or local organizations to amplify the reach. A countdown or highlight of notable speakers on your platforms as the event date approaches can build anticipation.

Benefits: Hosting such an event solidifies your practice's position as an industry thought leader and a hub for community engagement. It can foster collaborations, referrals, and partnerships that can be invaluable for the growth and reputation of the practice. Engaging with peers also offers avenues for mutual learning and growth.

10.- Local Charity Partnership

Concept: Aligning with a local charity resonates well with the community, showcasing your practice's commitment to giving back and social responsibility. Here are some useful charity-finding websites to begin your journey:

  1. GreatNonProfits.org
  2. Charity Navigator
  3. Charities.org
  4. GoFundMe article on how to find great charities
  5. Time.org's 5 Expert Tips for deciding on a charity

Execution: Identify a local charity whose objectives align with your practice's values. Formulate a partnership strategy, whether it's offering free dental checkups to the charity's beneficiaries, donating a portion of your profits, or organizing community events together. Ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial, with both parties actively participating and promoting the collaboration.

Promotion: Announce the partnership through a press release and on all your digital channels. Share stories and updates on the charity's activities and how your practice is contributing. Organize joint events or campaigns, capitalizing on both the practice's and charity's audiences for maximum impact and reach.

Benefits: A partnership with a charity strengthens community ties and showcases your practice's values in a tangible manner. It offers numerous opportunities for positive press coverage and word-of-mouth referrals. Moreover, it instills a sense of pride and purpose in your team, knowing their work is contributing to a greater good.

Bonus Ideas!

  1. Community or Beach Cleanup: Align your practice with eco-friendly initiatives by organizing a community or beach cleanup event. Encourage your staff, patients, and the larger community to gather and remove litter, showcasing a commitment to environmental health and community involvement. Document the process, and perhaps offer a small incentive, like a dental care kit, for participants. This event not only promotes a cleaner community but also demonstrates your practice's broader dedication to health and wellness.
  2. In-office Easter Egg Hunt: Engage with your patients and their families during the festive season by hosting an in-office Easter egg hunt. Transform your waiting area or an outdoor space, if available, into a festive setting. Fill eggs with dental-friendly treats or small dental care products. It's a fantastic way to make visiting the dentist a fun and exciting experience for children, and it helps familiarize them with your office, reducing potential future anxieties.
  3. Senior Center Volunteer Time: Strengthen ties with the elderly community by offering volunteer time at local senior centers. Organize sessions where your dentists can offer oral health advice specific to senior needs, perform simple check-ups, or even just spend time conversing and connecting. This showcases a compassionate side of your practice and can assist in catering to a demographic that often requires more consistent dental care.
  4. Free Teeth Whitening for Fiancés or Prom Attendees: Appeal to those looking to have picture-perfect moments by offering free teeth whitening sessions for soon-to-be-married individuals or high school seniors preparing for prom. This gives them an opportunity to look their best for their special day and serves as an introduction to other services your practice offers. It’s a great way to attract a younger demographic or engage couples who might be searching for a family dentist post-marriage.
  5. Dental Art Contest: Partner with local schools or community members to participate in an art contest themed around oral care and dental health. From there, you can show the artwork in your office online and connect with the artists.

In an age where businesses often get lost in the digital shuffle, dental practices have a unique opportunity to solidify their presence both online and in their local communities. By embracing these dental marketing strategies and community engagements, you can seamlessly blend modern email marketing with genuine community involvement. Beyond the potential for increased business growth, these activities instill a sense of shared purpose and foster deeper connections with patients, reinforcing the adage that a smile can indeed be the bridge between individuals and their communities. As you embark on these ventures, always remember that the heart of dentistry is oral health care, and there’s no better way to showcase it than by actively participating in the community you serve.