Be Prepared: Media Basics for the Non-PR Expert
By Alissa Gould, public relations manager, Boiron USA
April 1, 2017
As more people discover the benefits of homeopathic medicines, our industry may become a larger target for skeptics or media struggling to attract an audience through sensationalized stories. This, unfortunately, is a growing pain of success.
Whether you work in operations and manufacturing, medical indications, legal and regulatory matters, the market landscape, or even as a CEO, you could be asked to speak to the media to clarify technical information.
To help you represent homeopathic medicines, your company, and yourself in the best light possible, look for a series of articles in the upcoming issues of AAHP’s Network Newsletter for helpful tips on how to work with the media and prepare for an interview.
For now, below are a couple thoughts to consider before agreeing to a media interview. These basic communications points may be useful to pass long to others in your company.
- Do your research: Research both the reporter who will interview you and the media outlet. Does the reporter or the media outlet have a history of pro or con articles pertaining to alternative medicine? What is their purpose or mission? Who is their audience? If you’re caught off guard by a reporter calling, simply ask about their deadline and tell them that you will return their call. Then prepare.
- Evaluate whether to engage in a discussion with the reporter: After Step 1, you should have an idea if the interview will be friendly or adversarial. The decision to engage is easy if you feel the article will benefit you and homeopathic medicines, or at least be presented in a fair and balanced manner.
Conversely, if you feel the article will be biased against homeopathy, weigh the risks. How many people will see the article? Is the audience important to you? Will the article live on via a website? You may be tempted to think this writer just needs to be educated on the facts. While that might be true, your input most likely will not convince a known skeptic. Keep your communications with a skeptic very brief, in writing (email), and don’t stray from a pre-determined message. (Message development will be discussed in a forthcoming article.) Remember, declining the opportunity might be the most beneficial option.
- Ask questions: Ask the reporter for his questions before the interview takes place. If he declines, ask for the general concept of the article. Ask who else will be contacted to be interviewed—a known skeptic perhaps?
- Get professional help: While retaining a PR agency long term can be costly, there are plenty of freelance consultants who can help short term. Find a local crisis communications consultant with whom you can build a relationship throughout the years. Working with the same consultant will make it efficient to get quick advice in the future as the communications expert eventually learns your issues and the common questions about homeopathic medicines. Additionally, AAHP can help with questions concerning regulations and legislation. Other trade associations can offer assistance in developing messages for other topics.
These communications basics are reminders that can be applied in other areas. Whether you are going on a sales call or talking with a local government official, do your homework and prepare.