Monday, March 8, 2010

D/FW Health Care Journalists Offer Tips to Local Communicators

The upward shift from traditional media to online – from blogs to social media – has left us with fewer reporters to connect with and more competition for less space in print. To offer local PR pros an opportunity to learn current tips and best practices from journalists first-hand, we recently teamed with our client, Jim O’Gara, president of Dallas-based advertising agency OnMessage and leader of the D/FW American Marketing Association (AMA) Health Care SIG, to organize a panel of local health care journalists for the SIG’s second event: “How Your Company Can Secure Coverage in Healthcare Media.”

The panel, moderated by O’Gara, included Jason Roberson, health care business reporter, Dallas Morning News; Elizabeth Bassett, health care, science and technology reporter, Fort Worth Business Press; Chad Watt, associate editor, Dallas Business Journal; and Jan Jarvis, health care reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Panelists confirmed that when considering a pitched idea, the news that affects the largest number of people with relevancy to the area has a better chance of becoming a story.
“If a nationwide health trend can be localized, it becomes more significant to our readers,” Bassett said.

Watt added, “Health care is a complex topic. Bring it home to the people – make it accessible to many and keep it simple.”
The use of social media in terms of picking up story tips or connecting with PR pros was also discussed. We learned that despite the “buzz,” social media outlets do not rank high as a channel to find sources and story ideas for these individuals.
“The majority of my stories come directly from readers, so about 75 percent of my time is spent in the office,” Roberson said. “I want to brainstorm story ideas and angles with you on the phone.”
Jarvis added, “I prefer face to face. I’ve found that some of the best stories developed while I was out of the office, on the ground.”
As you know, having the opportunity to interact face-to-face with journalists and learn the specific topics that appeal to them individually is invaluable to our business. So, we encourage you to take advantage of these types of opportunities - you never know who you might meet and what tips you'll bring back to the office!