Tips for Pitching Your Story to the News Media
Working with media, such as print and online newspapers, television and radio stations, is an effective way to reach a large audience with educational messages about what retina specialists do and to showcase the personalized, sight-saving care you provide. Throughout the year, ASRS will provide customizable template communications materials for use in your local communications activities.
How to Contact Your Local Media
Often the simplest and most effective way to contact the media is to send a brief email with your story idea, along with supporting content such as a news release or patient story, and your contact information.
In your email correspondence, emphasize that you are a local retina specialist who can share critical information about what area residents need to know about retina health.
Whom to Contact
Seek out journalists based on their title or the subjects they cover, also known as their “beat.”
Newspapers (print and online): Target community editors, health and medical writers and feature editors. General news email addresses can also be helpful for submitting a pitch email or news release.
Television: Target health or medical reporters/producers, public affairs producers/hosts, assignment editors and community news contacts. Consider submitting ideas to the general news email address, which is reviewed by assignment editors who are key to determining story coverage.
Radio: Target general news producers or community news producers and consider submitting ideas to the general news email address, which is reviewed by assignment editors who are key to determining story coverage. If you have a favorite show and host, feel free to email him or her, too.
Develop a Media List
Develop a short list of local media who might be interested in health/medical and community news or features. To develop your list, search for the following types of outlets in your hometown or metro area:
- Daily newspapers
- Weekly community newspapers
- Television stations, including specific news, talk and community affairs programs
- Radio stations, including specific news, talk and community affairs programs
- Online editors of local newspaper, television and ration stations
Additional publications to consider for your media list are the employee and member newsletters published by area businesses, hospitals, industries, allied health professionals, schools, churches and community groups.
Visit each media outlet’s website and look for the “Contact us” page which often lists general news email addresses and also specific journalist’s contact information. You may also find reporter’s email addresses at the top of a story next to their name or at the end of a story.
Send the Pitch
Send your compelling story idea to each individual on your media list with a short but engaging email subject line. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. If you don’t receive a response, consider sending a follow-up email a few days later in case your email was overlooked. If a journalist responds to your email or calls you, try to make time to speak with them as soon as possible as they may be on a tight deadline when they are trying to reach you.
As a local leader working to safeguard the public’s sight, you offer a valuable perspective on community health issues. Tap the power of your experience and credentials to help shape public discourse about retinal disease, the importance of regular dilated retina exams and the critical role retina specialists play in providing highly-specialized care that preserves and protects vision. A letter-to-the-editor (LTE) can be an effective tool for sharing your perspective.
Letters-to-the-editor are one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper. They not only provide an opportunity to state your views but also can influence future coverage. Here are some tips for getting your LTE published:
- Check the submission guidelines for the publication. This information is typically found in the Opinion section and specifies the length, format and how to submit a letter.
- Be clear and concise. Keep your letters brief and to the point. Almost all letters that are published are less than 250 words.
- Use short, punchy sentences. This makes it easier for the reader to follow your thinking and easier for the editor to cut your letter if necessary – and it’s better to have an edited version of your letter printed than nothing at all.
Other LTE Tips:
- Send letters to weekly community newspapers, too. Smaller papers receive fewer letters, so the chances of your letter running are better.
- Be sure to include your contact information. Many newspapers will print LTEs only after calling authors to verify their identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information and will usually print only your name and city should your letter be published.
Please feel free to email Sara Conley, Vice President of Public Outreach and Patient Education with any questions you may have. We’d also love to see any successes or media “hits” you place.
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