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Employee's no-nonsense radio ads give big lift to plastic surgery practice

June 18, 2002 - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

By Monica L. Haynes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Seated at a recording studio microphone, dressed in a striped blouse, black linen pants, black patent leather mules and a pair of Koss headphones over her ears, Nan Cohen exudes confidence.

Nan Cohen joined Dr. Bernard Cohen's practice after he moved it to Cranberry in 1999. Her ads are credited with boosting the plastic surgeon's business from two new patients a month to 25 a month. "We completely turned the practice around," Nan says. (Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette)

"OK, let's do it," she tells the engineer, Greg, preparing herself for another take.

He brings up the Barry White music, and she reads the copy she's written for the latest in a series of radio ads for plastic surgeons Dr. Bernard Cohen (no relation) and Dr. Brian Heil:

"OK, John, it's your turn -- aren't you glad you're a friend? You told me the guys in your carpool are trying to guess what will I talk about next. Well, it's you, because you realized that after all those red lights on the way to work you were having your face-to-face good look in the mirror, that's when you also understood what I meant by saying, 'Some people have good genetic genes and others have Dr. Cohen and Dr. Heil.' "

Cohen's girlfriends-talking-at-the-kitchen table-approach to the delicate issue of plastic surgery has brought her a contingent of fans and outside business opportunities, and has brought new patients to Drs. Cohen and Heil.

The fans and business prospects are by-products of the main goal, getting the word out about her bosses. Nan Cohen, practice coordinator for Drs. Cohen and Heil, writes the ads and records them at KQV's studios. They're heard there and on other radio stations, including KDKA and WPTT.

The 37-year-old, 5-foot-5-inch copper-toned blonde is as bright and breezy in person as she is in the ads that have brought her so much attention. Most of it is pleasant, though sometimes a little disconcerting. People -- young, old, male and female -- call the office wanting to meet her. One of her O'Hara neighbors, who'd never met her, followed her to her driveway one day for an up-close look. She took it in stride.

Nan is just one of these people who have an incredible instinct for what is tasteful, what is useful and what will work ... she's just absolutely brilliant with these ads," says Dr. Cohen.

"Not only are they appreciated by people who hear them, they're effective."

So effective, in fact, that other businesses have come calling, wanting her to work the same magic for them.

Since the ads began airing 1 1/2 years ago, the practice has gone from an anemic average of two new patients per month to a robust 25 per month.

"We completely turned the practice around," Nan Cohen said.

It was needed when Dr. Cohen moved his practice to Cranberry in 1999 after 25 years in Allegheny Center. The move prompted some to believe he had retired. Others thought Cranberry too far away. Business was sluggish despite the efforts of an advertising agency.

"He needed to be reborn," Nan Cohen said.

She begged for a shot at resurrecting him, convinced that radio ads based on the concerns and attitudes of people in the real world would save the day. Some ads have been based on what is revealed when shopping for swimsuits, her own experience with Botox and a patient's sunny disposition following a face lift.

It all started when KDKA radio host Rob Pratte ad-libbed while reading an ad for Dr. Cohen's office.

He told listeners that the doctor's practice manager had gotten Botox injections in her forehead to combat wrinkles. A few minutes later, off the air, he called Nan Cohen to let her know what he'd done.

After she got over her initial shock, she decided that there were things she wanted radio listeners to know -- that plastic surgeons do more than liposuction, breast augmentations and face lifts. Things such as microdermabrasion (skin peels), permanent makeup and closing dog bite wounds.

"I'm just there to show them it can be done if that's what they want," Nan Cohen said.

One ad, which aired before Mother's Day, included her daughter Elyssa, 10. In it she has bought her mom sunglasses to cover the wrinkles in her forehead. But since Botox has eliminated that problem, Elyssa must think of another gift. "Botox rocks," Elyssa exclaims in the ad.

A student at the Civic Light Opera Academy, Elyssa is as natural as her mother.

Nan Cohen's delivery is so smooth and professional, some listeners wonder whether she's a "real" person or an actress.

"I'm real," she responds when a reporter telephones her office.

It's hard to imagine her being anything else.

The ads have led to a radio call-in show on KQV hosted by Nan Cohen and Drs. Cohen and Heil. Patients appear as guests, and it airs live twice a month and is repeated two more times.

She's in negotiations with WPGH Fox 53 to host a medical show that would feature her bosses. The plan is to go beyond liposuction and tummy tucks to focus on how plastic surgeons help in areas such as pediatrics, dermatology and orthopedics.

She is fiercely protective of the doctors' reputations. During a recent negotiation session with television account executive Tim Divito, she tells him the format and tone of the show must be right and shoots down the possibility of television commercials.

"I don't want 'we're here for you,' " Cohen says, mimicking the television commercials of a well-known lawyer. "That's not what plastic surgery is about."

It's her ability to know what's right for the practice that has other businesses seeking her talents.

"I've been approached by clothing stores, law firms," Nan Cohen said. That's led to invitations to a lot of social events as the guest of these suitors. She's looking into their offers. But she won't talk to any other plastic surgeons.

"Dr. Cohen and Dr. Heil are my first priority. That's where my first loyalties lie," she said.

One of her other loyalties is to Coca-Cola. Her staff knows that whenever she's stressed or about to record a new ad, she needs one. But it has to come from a fountain; no Coke in a can for Nan. They've taken to calling it "bubble Coke."

Nan Cohen has been involved in office work since she was a student at Allderdice High School, working part time for a Squirrel Hill dentist. She graduated in 1982 and then attended the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in business management.

After college, she got a job in a dental practice managing six offices. She also handled their PR and marketing.

"I left there because I got remarried," said Nan Cohen, who lives in O'Hara with Elyssa; her husband, Melvin; and younger daughter, Abby, 2.

While she was working as a recruiter for the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, now the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, a friend told her that Dr. Cohen needed a practice manager.

"She said, 'Nan, I talked to him. I think you're really going to like him," Nan Cohen recounted.

The two clicked instantly.

In addition to handling the PR for the practice, Nan Cohen supervises the staff, schedules surgeries, informs patients about each step of a procedure and arranges for the hospital stay, among other duties.

"Most important and most effective is she puts the patient at ease," said Dr. Cohen.

Chris of Monroeville can attest to that. We're omitting last names to protect the identities of the patients.

A 43-year-old doctor, Chris had liposuction of the abdomen, sides of abdomen and back.

In addition to giving him literature and explaining the procedure, Nan Cohen volunteered to be there with him. Chris took her up on the offer.

"She was the first person I recognized as I came out of anesthesia," Chris said. "I think anyone who's going through a procedure like that is a bit nervous and needs someone on the other end who makes you feel not only that you are doing the right thing but that it's safe and effective."

Jill, 34, of O'Hara agrees that Nan Cohen makes the life of a plastic surgery patient a lot easier.

"I must have called Nan 13 times [after her surgery], and she was very patient with me," said Jill, who had abdominal liposuction. "She's got one of those personalities that makes you feel comfortable."

Dr. Cohen seems to get as much of a kick out of the radio ads and flood of attention as she does.

"I'm not sure if I work for her or she works for me, but whatever way, I'm happy," he said.

About Nan Cohen

Nan Cohen is recognized as the go-to expert on the realities of separation and divorce, based on her own experience and long-running radio show “Dealing with Divorce”. After her marriage took a surprising turn, the young mother of a toddler girl confronted with all of the emotions and logistics of divorce, Nan learned the realities of divorce by experiencing it—a long and bitter divorce, joint custody, social stigma, and emotional turmoil. She was empowered by discovering a niche in which she could help others work through a transition from divorce to a new beginning. While she does not promote divorce, Nan does promote understanding its complexities, including custody, alimony, child support, financial settlements, parenting skills, and even dating, sex, and remarriage.

A quick-witted, practical and no-nonsense resource, Nan hosts DEALING WITH DIVORCE on Pittsburgh’s KQV 1410 AM and www.kqv.com. Here, her valued legal, family and wellness experts join her to discuss divorce and all its related issues. She been a contributor on KDKA-TV on “Pittsburgh Today Live” (on which she is scheduled to appear on Fri., April 27) and is a frequent guest expert in programs and media stories about divorce. Now, Nan’s first daughter is in college, she is mother of a daughter with her second husband, and her family supports her working with those experiencing divorce. Nan brings her reality-based perspective to individuals through consulting with divorce team professionals, one-on-one coaching, and audiences of her shows, seminars, and tools, including Dealing with Divorce: Reality Revealed, A Divorce Guide and Journal, all reachable via http://www.divorcerealityexpert.com   
Facebook: Nan Cohen Total Talk.  Twitter @nanondivorce

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