More than 40 years ago, I met Shieva Ghofrany in preschool. She has been one of my closest friends ever since, hosting both a surprise party for me in 6th grade and my baby shower, 20 years later. We’re in it for the long haul.
Shieva is a practicing OB-GYN in Stamford, Connecticut and is a co-founder of Tribe Called V, a site designed to “…increase women’s knowledge in order to decrease their anxiety as it relates to their female health.”
Shieva has fast become a stand-out among physician social influencers, known for her candor and ability to engage her followers on all channels, especially on Instagram at Big Love Fierce Juju. I was curious about her approach to PR and how people in PR could best work with physicians, so I rang her up.
Why did you create Tribe Called V and how did you get started?
I’ve been practicing for more than 20 years and, over this time, have come to appreciate that women truly want health information about their bodies – relevant to whatever stage of life they’re in – but that information is often delivered in a patronizing way. For instance, most women can relate to being told by a doctor that “you’re overreacting” or “don’t worry about it.” So, what do women do? They go to Dr. Google, which isn’t great either.
My goal with Tribe Called V is simple – speak to women on health in the way in which they want to be spoken to about any topic: straightforward, honest and real.
I’ve always had this outlook in my practice, but I can only see 30 patients a day, so my message was limited to a finite circle of women. I started off small by sharing insights on female health topics through Instagram, specifically through video. I received such positive feedback that I knew there was an audience for the content I was putting out.
You’re pretty bad-ass on Instagram. You speak of your multiple miscarriages, overcoming ovarian cancer and raising your three kids. How does that help you engage with your followers?
I found that the more open I am on social, the more that my followers relate and feel invested in their own health. My candor helps put them at ease and reduce their anxiety.
Doctors are often seen as authority figures which, in many ways, is good. But, when it comes to conversations about health, this can make women hesitant to share their concerns, which is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve.
I didn’t get into medicine because I love the science of medicine. I got into it because I love engaging with female patients, helping them to become their own best advocates. I think that my social media helps them to do that.
What should PR people know about working with a doctor?
I think it’s critical to understand each doctor’s intentions with media, which you can determine either by being well-versed on their social feeds or simply just asking them. Some will want to use it as a platform to get a new job; others want to sell books; and some are building their following so they will be more appealing for endorsements. Once you understand intention, then you can approach us with opportunities that make sense.
Also, it’s important for PR people to understand the personality of the doctor and what media works best for them. For instance, I am best on TV and social, but my voice doesn’t come across as well in print. I am always looking to work with PR people along those lines.
Are you open to working with brands?
Yes and no. I do work with some brands, but I will only work with a brand that I would use myself. For instance, I work with itsbodily, which is closely aligned with the intent of Tribe Called V and makes sense with what I do.
Also, I would never do an exclusive arrangement for any pharma product or device, since I don’t think that one single recommendation is best for women. If I see that in a contract, I will take it out.
What’s the best thing about Linda?
Besides getting me my start on Tyra Banks, she makes amazing chocolate chip cookies.*
*This is fact and not fabricated by the author.