Tips for Working with the Media

    May 6-12

    Tips for Working with the Media

    If you're trying to get significant coverage for National Nurses Week, you need to work with the media. There is one main difference between advertising and publicity; you pay for advertising and publicity is free. In order to obtain publicity, you will need to come up with ideas and work with reporters in advance. Here are some tips for informing the public about National Nurses Week. Set realistic goals to secure coverage of National Nurses Week by identifying a specific number of print and/or broadcast outlets in your state or district.

    Be a Media Relations Liaison:

    Designate one individual in your group to serve as your media relations liaison. Assigning this function to one person will enable more effective response to media inquiries, coordinate publicity efforts, and keep things running smoothly. As liaison, you will contact the media to share your ideas, serve as a contact for media calls, and coordinate scheduling of interviews and appearances. Ideally, your should have experience and expertise in working with the media and should be clearly identified as the contact person on any printed materials distributed to the media.

    Develop Your Ideas: Distribute to the media your own fact sheets or utilize the background info provided by ANA - (see the governmental affairs page on the ANA's or your state nurses association's websites). Identify key points that you want to make and keep your message as clear as possible. If you want to present a news story, make sure you have something newsworthy to say. If it's not new, different, timely or unique, the media won't use it as news. Feature stories, on the other hand, do not have to be fast-breaking news. These stories are classified as human interest, such as the endeavors of a particular nurse or an effort being undertaken by your organization.

    Localize your information by including the number of nurses in your state or district. Find examples of health care institutions that have maintained their RN staffing levels during these rapid changes and cost containment efforts. Discuss how you are working to inform the public and policy makers about the value of nurses.

    Be prepared to express nursing's views on the issues of safety, quality of care, the need to increase access to care, especially nursing care, and the threat of RN substitution. Talk openly about what the nurses in your area are doing to promote safe and high quality care. Also, have the facts on what health-related legislation is being initiated by your elected representatives. Be prepared to give nursing's views on these issues.

    Take the opportunity to discuss issues which your state nurses association/district nurses association has resolved. If you have adopted a position on state or national legislation, such as the patients bill of rights or needle stick legislation--formulate your thoughts and pitch these ideas to the media. Remember to consider why these issues are important to the reader/audience.

    Identify Your Spokesperson(s): Identify nurses in various practice settings from your state or district nurses association who will talk about their work, the impact their efforts have on the lives of patients and their families, and how the inappropriate use of unlicensed assistive personnel threatens their ability to provide safe and high quality care. By working closely with local consumer groups, you can find consumers and political leaders who are willing to talk about how nurses have changed their lives. Look for local leaders who will talk about their support of nursing and nursing issues.

    The spokesperson(s) should also be willing to respond to media inquiries and be able to effectively articulate nurses' views on health care issues. Obtain biographical data and photos of your spokesperson(s), as well as day and evening telephone numbers and professional schedules. The spokesperson(s) should be chosen carefully to project the image you intend to portray.

    Brief the Spokesperson(s): The spokesperson(s) should understand the overall message for National Nurses Week. Work with him, her or them to organize your collective thinking and anticipate possible interview questions. Make certain that your spokespersons are briefed to handle questions that may arise concerning controversial local issues. Again, make sure any identified spokesperson is prepared to respond with the official position of your association or organization.

    Contact the Media: Your first step is to obtain a list of contacts from local television stations, radio stations, magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. Sometimes, you can purchase local media directories, but it is not that hard to create your own. Call a local public relations agency or your Chamber of Commerce for details. More and more reporters are using the World Web Web as a resource and e-mail as a method of communication.

    Localize the enclosed news release and send it to electronic and print media reporters and assignment editors in your area. Place a follow-up telephone call to key contacts to discuss local news and feature angles. Call well in advance of National Nurses Week. Do not expect coverage if you wait until the "eleventh hour."

    By tailoring your message to an issue that is receiving media attention or that is of particular interest to your community, you always increase your chances of coverage. Be receptive and flexible to appropriate counter-suggestions from media representatives. Even if your ideas don't receive immediate attention, consider this contact as the beginning of a productive working relationship with the media. Don't be afraid to make multiple contacts. Tap all available resources, such as the reporters and editors handling health care, consumer news, community events -- whatever is appropriate for the news angles that you have identified.

    Work with institutional and local officials to invite the media to attend any activities in which nurses will be recognized by those outside the profession. They should welcome the opportunity to receive some positive public attention.

    Monitor Your Coverage: The media need feedback to gauge community interest in their coverage and programming. Alert members of your association to monitor the coverage you receive, and urge them to alert their co-workers, families, and friends about upcoming coverage. Stress the importance of positive feedback to let the media know you appreciated the coverage. Positive consumer response tells the media that nursing's issues are of concern and interest to the community and this will help you to obtain press coverage in future years.

    Remember: Think like a journalist! As you develop your news and feature ideas to "pitch" to the news media, look for stories that are timely, unique, unexpected, the first of their kind, interesting, heart warming, and/or inspirational
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