July 8, 2008

Question of The Month: Preparing For Media Calls

Media Question #1:
When the media calls you for an interview on a child health issue or a breaking headline, what do you do to prepare for the interview? Do you

A. A. Consult the AAP

B. B. Consult medical colleagues

C. C. Do a web search for information

D. D. Just do the interview cold because you know the material so well

E. E. Other: please specify!

Here are some of the answers I received from COCM members:

  • "When the media (TV, radio or print) calls, I usually put together my thoughts and then check the AAP website and links to verify facts/add statistics to my presentation."
  • "I do A, B and C"
  • One COCM member who does a great deal of media wrote:
"A. Consult the AAP--I call Susan Martin or Debbie Linchesky in the AAP Media Relations office if I'm not sure of the AAP's position or a certain angle to take with a topic
B. Consult medical colleagues--I often talk to pediatricians in my office and other AAP media spokespeople just to get a reality check and see if there's something I haven't thought of yet.
C. Do a web search for information--I check the AAP web site for policy information as well as parent guides (these make good links for reporters/consumers). I also like medlineplus.gov and emedicine.com for general medical information.
D. Just do the interview cold because you know the material so well--almost never; even if I know the material like the back of my hand and have done an interview topic many times before, I like to refresh my memory, even if it's just a little bit.
E. Other: please specify! If there's time I try to get a little background information about the reporter or publication/web site/TV station etc. to search for other common ground. (For example, I might be able to say "I really like that story you did on pool safety" and comment that the AAP has new information out about summer safety in the Press Room part of the web site or mention a foundation I've heard of that teaches swimming and drowning prevention to low-income African American kids.) I also figure out what kind of stories they do and then pitch them an idea or two for future topics. This can help keep you relevant as a source."
If you have opinions on this question, let me know and I'll add your answers to the mix! You can email me at cocmeditor@pediatricsnow.com