As a rheumatologist or rheumatology health professional, you have a variety of ways in which you can work with local media. Receiving coverage in local news publications is an effective way to increase awareness of rheumatic diseases and spread the word about legislation that affects our discipline and the important work rheumatology professionals do.
This article outlines some basic tips to get you started. When you’re ready to start conducting media outreach, the ACR has additional resources to help you. The ACR’s Simple Tasks Member Toolkit is a Web-based resource that includes editorial-opinion and letter-to-the-editor templates that members are encouraged to use.
Build Relationships with Reporters/Editors in Your Area
A great way to get media coverage is to develop relationships with individual reporters. Reporters need to generate new stories every day and usually have little time to gather facts. If they see you as a trusted resource on early learning in your community, someone they can turn to for reliable information when they need it, they will be more responsive to you when you’d like them to cover an event or write an editorial.
Be a Resource; Provide the Local Angle
Media outlets focus on how current national news affects their readers/viewers locally. You can share with them state statistics and local stories about rheumatology that can help make a national story worth their time.
Be sure to provide reliable information, and be prepared to provide at least one person/source they can contact for additional comments or interviews. Reporters are more likely to cover your story, and possibly contact you for related stories, once they know you are a responsive and helpful resource to get them the information they need.
Got an Opinion? Write an Op-Ed
Op-eds are essays written by someone in the community to state their position on an issue. They are published in the editorial section of a news publication. Unlike editorials, which reflect a position of the paper’s editor or owner group, these pieces reflect the position of a reader, but are usually longer than a letter to the editor and have a more prominent position in the paper. The most coveted days to have an op-ed run are on the weekends. Legislators and other community leaders often read op-eds.
Major papers run several op-eds at a time, and other papers run only one. Some smaller papers almost never run op-eds (although smaller papers tend to allow longer letters to the editor).