The following guidelines are useful in establishing media protocol and will help develop credibility with local media. Before engaging with the media, review hospital or university policies which may require working with an official spokesperson.
Understanding the Media
- Print, broadcast, and online news outlets need the perspective of medical experts to share with their audiences.
- Vascular health experts can help explain the importance of vascular health especially to aging baby boomers. As an expert, the media may initiate contact whenever they have a question about vascular disease. To help educate the public, use the online press kit, press releases, and other templates to submit vital information to the press.
- News is anything out-of-the-ordinary. To maintain credibility with the press, suggest newsworthy stories about new procedures, new research, and new information about your practice such as a new location or new partner. Also newsworthy are different perspectives of an existing story. For instance, an article about controlling cholesterol levels to protect the heart can be followed with an article on the effects of cholesterol on the entire vascular system.
- There is tremendous competition for story coverage by print, broadcast, and online news sources. A large metropolitan newspaper can receive 2,500 to 3,000 press releases daily. Editors and reporters consider only 10 percent of these to be real news.
- “Tips” and “how to” articles on maintaining good vascular health are normally well received by the media.
- Since vascular disease primarily affects seniors, position stories as important to the outlet’s senior and baby boomer audiences. News outlets are interested in reaching these large audiences.
- Let the media know about presentations made and events sponsored by your practice such as vascular screening events. (See the Vascular Screening Guidelines for complete information.)
- Opinion leaders make news. When appropriate, invite local government officials to events. Invite the media as well.
- Notice how print, boradcast, and online writers/reporters cover medical news. Familiarity with the general tone of medical news stories will assist in positioning news to solicit the best coverage.
- Don’t overlook neighborhood newspapers, online sources, and e-bulletins. These editors will often include well-written, informative stories in their well-read news source.
- Reporters research facts on the Internet. Maintain an informative and easily navigated website. Include a “Media” or “News” section.
How the Media Works
As a competitor with other medical-related topics for media coverage, success depends on offering quality, timely, and interesting information.
In most instances, vascular disease articles will not appear as breaking news such as crime coverage. Therefore, the press will have more flexibility in the timing of publishing, posting, or airing a vascular disease article. Nonetheless, deadlines are a reality in working with the media. To obtain coverage, it is essential to provide the information requested before the media deadline. The publication, online, or television segment will require production time prior to its publication, posting, or airing.
Reporters submit their articles to an editor or producer who must fit the article into a predetermined news column format or a specified video timeframe. At any time during the production process, the story or interview can be cut. (Instructions for doing interviews are included in this kit.)
Depending upon the size of the news outlet, a news organization can receive thousands of press releases daily. To help ensure review of a press release:
- Email releases directly to the health or medical reporter or editor
- Schedule press release delivery on Monday through Thursday
- Follow up with a brief phone call to the reporter within a few days after they receive the release. Very concisely tell them what your press release is about and why it is important to their audience. Offer to do an interview and provide them with more information
- Include email and website addresses in the press release
- Instructions for formatting press releases are included in this toolkit.
Submit press releases, media kits, and fact sheets directly to local health and medical writers. SVS can provide a list of local publications as well as contact information for health and medical writers. Submit A Health and Medical Media List Request to receive an Excel spreadsheet with contact information for these reporters.
Posted June 2010