PANAW: Working With The Media
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PANAW: Working with the media

PANAW: Celebrated the First Full Week in February

Tips for Working with the Media

The National Office works to promote PANAW at the national level. You can do the same at the state and local levels! Here are some tips for informing the media about PANAW. Be sure to set realistic goals by identifying a specific number of print and/or broadcast outlets in your area, and contact reporters at least two to three weeks in advance of PANAW.

  1. Select a Media Relations Liaison
    Designate one individual to serve as your media relations liaison. This will help you to coordinate publicity efforts, respond more effectively to media inquiries, and keep things running smoothly. Your liaison will:  contact the media to share your ideas, serve as the contact for media inquiries, and coordinate scheduling of interviews and appearances. Ideally, this person should have experience working with the media. Your liaison should be clearly identified as the contact person on all materials given to the media, including press releases.
  2. Write a Press Release
    Write a press release or backgrounder (like those provided by ANA) to distribute to the media. 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.

    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. Therefore, localize your information by including, for instance, quotes from local leaders, the number of nurses in your state or city, examples of how local nurses promote quality care in pre-op and PACU, or health care issues your state association is working on or has resolved. Always remember to consider why these issues are important to the reader/audience.

  3. Identify Your Spokesperson(s)
    Identify nurses in various practice settings from your state or local nurses association who can talk about their work, the impact their efforts have on the lives of patients and their families, and PANAW. By working closely with local consumer groups, you can also 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 be willing to respond to media inquiries and be able to effectively articulate your association's views on health care issues. Obtain biographical data and photos of your spokesperson(s), as well as day and evening numbers at which they can be contacted. The spokesperson(s) should be chosen carefully to project the image you intend to portray.

  4. Brief the Spokesperson(s)
    In addition to being a nursing advocate, the spokesperson(s) should understand the overall message for PANAW as well as the content of your press release. Work with him, her, or them to organize your collective thinking and anticipate possible interview questions, including ones that may arise concerning controversial local issues. Additionally, make sure spokespersons are prepared to respond with the official position of your association or organization.

  5. Contact the Media
    Your first step is to establish a list of contacts from local newspapers, television stations, and radio stations. Tap all available contacts, such as the reporters and editors handling health care, consumer news, community events—whatever is appropriate for the news angles that you have identified. Sometimes, you can purchase local media directories, but it is not that hard to create your own via research on the internet or by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce.

    Next, send a copy of your press release to each contact you have identified. Place a follow-up call 24 to 48 hours later to confirm receipt of the press release and discuss possible story ideas. Even if your calls do not receive immediate attention, consider this the beginning of a productive working relationship with the media, and do not be afraid to call each reporter several times.

    When you reach a reporter, be receptive to appropriate counter-suggestions for story ideas. If the editor wants to interview one of your spokespersons, arrange a time that is mutually convenient. If the editor is looking for photos, work with institutional and local officials to have the media attend activities in which nursing professionals will be recognized. (Hospital PR/Marketing departments can help schedule or obtain photos, too). And be sure to provide any other information the media requests, which will sometimes require a follow-up call or email.

  6. 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 issues are of concern and interest to the community, and this will help you to obtain press coverage in future years.

  7. 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, heartwarming, and/or inspirational.

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