They Are the (Media) Champions ASHA’s 2014 Media Champions share their experiences about getting involved with media work—and why you should, too. Spreading the Word
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Spreading the Word  |   February 01, 2015
They Are the (Media) Champions
Author Notes
  • Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager. fpierson@asha.org
    Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager. fpierson@asha.org×
Article Information
ASHA News & Member Stories / Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word   |   February 01, 2015
They Are the (Media) Champions
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.STW.20022015.np
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.STW.20022015.np
If you’ve read this column before, you know that “Spreading the Word” encourages ASHA members to get involved in media outreach. From ASHA’s perspective, media is a key vehicle for raising public awareness about communication disorders and professions—and who better to hear from than our members, the people who are on the front lines of care every day? However, some members may feel that they don’t have the time or experience necessary to get involved—or that doing so has no real value to them as individuals. We spoke with ASHA’s 2014 Media Champions to get their thoughts on what this work has meant to them.
Ann Kummer: One of four 2014Media Champions, ASHA recognized Kummer for her extraordinary efforts in raising awareness in Cincinnati as part of the Identify the Signs campaign. Kummer took part in a series of television interviews, which gave information to parents about early signs of communication disorders and where to find help.
“There are so many people who do not know what speech-language pathology is or what we do,” Kummer says. “I really like to educate people about that. What I’ve found is that every time I do a lecture or media interview, we get a lot of referrals.”
For Kummer, speaking with the media is a critical way not only to reach patients and their families who might need help, but also to reach pediatricians and other doctors who may not know where to send patients for speech and language issues. Ultimately, her goal is to help the public—but creating a patient pipeline is an added bonus for her awareness-raising efforts.
“It’s not a lot of work and it’s very enjoyable,” Kummer says about taking part in media interviews.
Patti Martin: Recognized for her participation in Better Hearing and Speech Month initiatives, Martin was game for just about any sort of public education involvement in 2014.
“This year was fun for me because I got to do something I had never done before,” Martin explains. She did interviews for an ASHA podcast on newborn hearing screening and served as a panelist on a Google+ Hangout about communication disorders—both part of ASHA’s 2014 BHSM outreach. “Better Hearing and Speech Month posed a great way to contribute on a broader scale for me.”
“We have great stories to tell about the patients that we see,” she adds. “It seems natural to tell those stories and help educate people about what we do.”
To other ASHA members who are thinking about serving as a media source, Martin says, “I think it’s a great way to get involved with ASHA if you’ve not done anything with the organization before. It’s a great way to contribute to our profession and gain public awareness for the kinds of things that we do.”
Yadira Medina-Torres: As a Spanish-language spokesperson for the Identify the Signs campaign, Medina-Torres talked on air with Spanish radio stations across the country, vastly expanding the reach of the campaign’s early-detection message to a growing Hispanic population.
“It was a very rewarding experience,” Medina-Torres says. “I’ve been able to help with some of the cultural myths and beliefs within our society. It was empowering to make sure parents understand the difference between what we consider to be culturally acceptable versus a true sign of a delay.”
Medina-Torres encourages other ASHA members to get involved with the media and help raise awareness.
“We have the power to reach a bigger audience and truly make a difference within our community, our society and the nation,” Medina-Torres explains. She hopes her media savvy will help parents recognize and address the warning signs of speech, language and hearing issues.
Sonja Pruitt-Lord: Through TV and radio interviews with the local PBS affiliate in San Diego, Pruitt-Lord was instrumental in spreading the early-detection message of the Identify the Signs campaign. She was quick to volunteer for these opportunities when ASHA staff contacted her.
“Once I was asked, I chose to participate because I think it’s important, plus it fits in line with my research and clinical passions,” Pruitt-Lord says. “Most people who aren’t affected by speech, language and hearing disorders don’t know what our field does, nor do they know what to do if a loved one is experiencing some of these communication difficulties.”
She had two main goals for her media appearances: to encourage parents to seek professional communication help earlier for their children and to remind health professionals that speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help improve outcomes for patients with communication disorders. To those ends, she saw success—citing neighbors and students who said they saw the interviews, learned from them and shared the information with friends and family members.
“I would recommend serving as a media source to any ASHA member,” says Pruitt-Lord. “We forget sometimes how easy it is to talk on a topic we’re passionate about. ASHA really makes it easy to know what to say and how to say it in consumer-friendly terms.”
Read the full interviews with these members to learn more about volunteering as a media source.
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February 2015
Volume 20, Issue 2