Fall Offers a Wealth of Media Opportunities Take time now to pitch CSD-related stories tied to fall activities and events. Try these pointers to help get your story out there. Spreading the Word
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Spreading the Word  |   August 01, 2015
Fall Offers a Wealth of Media Opportunities
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
Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / School-Based Settings / ASHA News & Member Stories / International & Global / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word   |   August 01, 2015
Fall Offers a Wealth of Media Opportunities
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.STW.20082015.np
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.STW.20082015.np
Autumn brings falling leaves, cooler temperatures and pumpkin-spice everything. But the change of season also provides ample opportunity for ASHA members to put their expertise in the public eye. We’ve written in the past about the summer openings (Why Summer’s the Right Time for Seasonal Outreach), but fall might present even richer publicity possibilities with your local media.
News-you-can-use pieces offering practical tips for consumers remain perennially popular with media, particularly local broadcast television stations—they often feature regular consumer or health segments—and community newspapers. Reporters frequently want local experts offering information and advice to viewers or readers. The communication sciences and disorders area offers plentiful angles tied to fall:
  • Back-to-School: Pick from a spectrum of options, from kindergarten readiness (checklist of skills—many related to speech/language, writing and reading readiness—and how parents can help) to bullying (tips from a speech-language pathologist for dealing with bullying, given that children with disabilities may be easy targets) to voice preservation tips for teachers and coaches.

  • Fall Sports/Football Season: Soccer, football and other fall sports present a risk for concussions and traumatic brain injury. Awareness of sports-related brain injuries is on the rise. Pitch news segments or stories on prevention tips, advice for spotting the signs of injury and follow-up steps parents should take. Or focus on loud stadium noise. In the past few years, noise at professional sporting events such as NFL games has garnered headlines. The World Health Organization even called out the threat of loud sports venues in its new Make Listening Safe campaign. ASHA and member experts turned this into a media opportunity that you can replicate in any city with a major or minor league team.

  • Holidays: Media love covering holidays from every possible angle, from gift ideas to menu planning to safety tips and beyond. Fall holiday opportunities include Veterans Day, a good time for stories on TBI or hearing loss—the most common health issue that veterans face—or Thanksgiving angles like helping a family member with hearing loss during holiday gatherings to surviving Thanksgiving dinner with a picky eater.

Once you compose your story idea use these tips for successfully approaching local media:
  1. Determine the appropriate contact person. Chose a specific reporter based on past reporting you’ve seen him or her do such as consumer stories. If you don’t know of one, contact someone with the title of assignment editor, features editor or health editor. Or call the main line and ask for suggestions on who to reach—they may give you a name or directly connect you.

  2. Craft a short pitch. In a couple of brief paragraphs, propose your story idea. Note why it’s relevant to the community, offer examples of tips/advice you’ll provide, and localize the story with details such as local statistics. Reference past stories by the reporter that lead you to believe he or she might be interested in your topic—reporters appreciate that. Offer to do an interview and provide contact information. Reporters often prefer email as primary contact, but follow-up with a call asking if the reporter received your email. Reporters receive lots of emails, however, so don’t be offended if they don’t remember yours!

  3. Time it right. This is important both from a reporter’s standpoint and yours. Your chance for success diminishes if you call a reporter when she’s up against a deadline. For the most part, call earlier in the day for better results. Be mindful of the larger broadcast/publication schedule as well. For example, if you target a monthly or even weekly parenting column, contact the publication about a story on Thanksgiving picky eating several months before Thanksgiving. Many papers and magazines publish editorial calendars online with submission deadlines. Also make sure to reach out when you have time to respond. The reporter will likely need you on short notice, so if you can’t clear your schedule for an interview then reach out another time.

  4. Line up a consumer. Most news pieces carry more weight when they include a patient or consumer who experienced the particular issue at hand—it helps humanize a story. Reporters often ask for connections to such a person, so you increase your likelihood of success if you know one or more willing clients. Make sure to state this in your pitch.

Follow up, within reason. As mentioned earlier, a follow-up call usually yields better results. However, most reporters don’t appreciate repeated calls. Don’t be offended or discouraged if you don’t get a response—or do get a rejection. Some reporters receive hundreds of story pitches a day and can’t cover everything. Retool and approach them when you have your next story idea!
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2015
Volume 20, Issue 8