Working With the Media: Strategies for Success You could be the next ASHA Member Media Champion. Follow our playbook for success. Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word  |   December 01, 2017
Working With the Media: Strategies for Success
Author Notes
  • Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.
    Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.×
Article Information
ASHA News & Member Stories / Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word   |   December 01, 2017
Working With the Media: Strategies for Success
The ASHA Leader, December 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
The ASHA Leader, December 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
For many people, the idea of approaching a reporter with a story idea, participating in an on-camera interview, or writing an op-ed or letter to the editor is exciting—but daunting. However, putting yourself out there is worth the effort and can reap significant benefits—both for you professionally and for the greater good of the professions.
As we start a new year and set personal and professional goals, it’s a great time to consider reaching out to the media in your community. Look to ASHA’s 2017 Member Media Champions for some inspiration, and consider becoming an ASHA media source.
Here are some general tricks of the trade to help put you on the path to success:
Be a news consumer. Read your local newspaper, watch the morning and evening news shows, and get to know popular radio shows, magazines, websites or blogs in the community. By understanding the types of topics an outlet or particular reporter is interested in—and the style of their coverage—you’ll be in a much better position to suggest or take part in a story.
Cultivate relationships. Play the long game when it comes to media work. There are many ways to cultivate a relationship with a reporter over time. Follow them on social media, and compliment (better yet, share!) their stories when you like them. Offer yourself as a resource even if you have nothing to gain. If you are a familiar name or a helpful resource, you’re much more likely to be successful when you do have a story idea (they may even come to you first).
Give a local spin to national news. Pay attention to national news, and consider how it affects your community. For instance, if the federal government releases a new report on the prevalence of autism, determine how many people this affects in your city. What resources are available locally? Such information could make a timely story for local news outlets.
Be timely. News, by definition, is supposed to be timely—so fit your story idea into something current. One approach is tying your outreach to awareness days, weeks or months. Discuss the number of people affected by a particular disorder, indicate that it is an awareness month for that disorder, and offer information on treatment and resources—and volunteer yourself as an expert willing to assist. Finding a consumer who has benefited from treatment for the disorder—and who is willing to speak publicly about it—always improves the chances for coverage.
Respect schedules and deadlines. Reporters are often under intense pressure to meet deadlines, so try to approach reporters at a time that works for them. In general, earlier in the day is better. But if you know that a weekly newspaper is published on Tuesdays, Monday generally is not the best time to reach out.
Be accessible. Make sure you are approaching a reporter at a time when you are relatively available. If they are interested in your idea and call you back, your plans could be suddenly interrupted—so don’t reach out if you are getting ready to leave town or are otherwise booked.
Don’t re-create the wheel. You may feel like you don’t have the time to dedicate to media outreach, but ASHA has many resources to help you get started. Check out the Member Toolkits for the “Value of the CCCs” and “Identify the Signs” campaigns, and watch for press release templates and other materials during Better Hearing & Speech Month, World Hearing Day, and other relevant times for public outreach.
Keep expectations realistic. Some reporters receive lots of story ideas, and they can’t cover everything. Don’t be offended or discouraged if you don’t get a response—or if you get a rejection. Retool, and approach them when you have your next story idea. Also, understand that even when you are included in a story, it likely will represent a small portion of your full conversation. A 30-minute conversation may yield a one-line quote in a story. Nevertheless, this is often enough to make an impact.
Leverage the coverage you get. If you do find success, spread the word! Share on your LinkedIn and other social accounts, with your employer for an internal newsletter or website, with ASHA, and with all others who may be interested.
ASHA’s Public Relations staff is available to provide more information or answer your questions. Email
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December 2017
Volume 22, Issue 12