News Media Policies
Research produced at academic medical centers is often the subject of news articles and TV interviews in the mainstream news media. Such national and regional visibility in the popular press enables millions of people to learn of research breakthroughs that advance health and science for the betterment of all. News coverage also confers high name recognition to institutions. A prominent reputation helps with things such as recruiting the best investigators, generating interest among philanthropists and attracting patients. Everyone benefits, both individually and collectively, when the name of the institution becomes well known through positive media coverage on a regular basis.
Each year faculty members at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are featured in several thousand news stories. In fiscal year 2012, the media team produced 10,009 media placements which was seen and heard by 6.7 billion people.
This presents a great opportunity to make the Medical Center better known and well- respected, which furthers our vision of becoming a preeminent, internationally recognized academic medical center of the highest quality. This is why positive media coverage is routinely sought on a daily basis by the Medical Center’s media relations department in partnership with our faculty.
How do I participate in the news media process?
If you have an idea for a story, are about to publish a scholarly article in a journal or if you have been contacted by the news media directly, there are a few policies to follow to ensure you get the best result from working with the news media.
The news media has its own rules and methods for collecting and reporting news. News can be reported and go worldwide in a matter of minutes. Mistakes in media interviews can be costly in terms of damage control and reputation damage. That is why it is a policy to always work with a member of the media relations department in Communications, Marketing & Media (CM&M) when participating in the news reporting process.
Journalists have their own definition of “news” based on criteria they are taught during journalism training. Most often the media is looking for stories that meet the following characteristics: timeliness, seasonal, compelling, sensational, first-ever, breakthrough, easy to understand at an 8th-grade level, affects large numbers of people, interesting human interest angle, news that can be localized, fascinating, controversial, a trend or linked to a famous person.
News can have endless permutations. Media also have different requirements. A radio interview is very different from an article in The New York Times, which is different from a story in The Huffington Post. The requirements for each medium vary from one organization to another. In today’s “sound bite” world, research news that has the best chance of breaking through is simple and to the point, as if it was reported in USA Today.
Working with a media relations professional will help you navigate and streamline the process that will be respectful of your time and give you the best result after an interview–which is a great story!
Policies and Procedures
It is Medical Center policy that all media requests for interviews with anyone employed at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center must first be cleared by the media relations office before an interview is granted. The media relations team will pre-approve the interview to protect both the institution and the investigator from potentially damaging press coverage. The media relations office will quickly respond to a request to pre-screen an interview request.
Pre-Approval and Screening the Interview
If a reporter calls a faculty member directly, it is important to obtain key information from the reporter before you forward the caller to the media relations office. First, thank the reporter for their interest in you or your research. Immediately tell them that all interviews must be cleared first by the media relations office. Ask the reporter for their name, telephone number, email address and news organization. Do not answer any questions over the phone, because you will be “on the record” and your quotes could appear in the news media without your authorization.
Give the reporter the front desk phone number of CM&M 336-716-4587 and tell them to ask to be connected to the media relations office directly. Or, you can give them the name and phone number of a member of the media relations team (below). It is important to obtain key information and send the reporter to the media relations office directly. After you get off the phone with the reporter, send an email immediately to a member of the media relations team and title it “Media Request by The New York Times” or name the media outlet. Or, call the media officer in CM&M directly by phone, and include the following information:
- Name of the media organization
- Name of the reporter
- Phone number of the reporter and email address
It is best to send the media request alert to at least two members of the media team, to ensure a prompt response. If you do not hear from the news media team within several hours or if the request is urgent, call the media office directly by phone and leave several messages if needed. The media often have tight deadlines and a rapid response is needed to ensure our institution is represented in the story, versus our competitors.
The media relations office in CM&M offers personalized and group media training. It is imperative that you be trained before you grant an interview, particularly if it is on television. Media training sessions are held twice a year on campus by a media trainer from Washington, D.C., who is the former deputy commissioner of the FDA. But custom training one-on-one by a member of the media relations team is available at any time. All faculty should be trained at least once every two years, even if you are experienced at interviews. To schedule a training session, contact Bonnie Davis, national media relations manager, at 336-716-4977 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
News Media Policies
In summary, all news media interviews must first be cleared by the media relations office before being granted. There are strict policies against allowing the media to conduct bedside interviews with patients. Conflicts of Interest must be reported to the news organization, if for example, you have a financial interest in research or a product about which you are being interviewed.
Contact Your Media Relations Team
Gail Pritchard, CM&M Administration
Paula Faria, AVP of Media Relations
336-716-1279 or email@example.com
Karen Richardson, Senior Communications Manager
336-716-4453 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Marguerite Beck, Senior National Media Relations Manager
336-716-2415 or email@example.com
Bonnie Davis, National Media Relations Manager
336-716-4977 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Local and Regional Team
Chad Campbell, Senior Manager Regional Media
336-716-6184 or email@example.com
Mac Ingraham, Regional Media Relations Manager
336-716-3487 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Meg Lee, Communications Specialist
336-716-6163 or email@example.com
On-call Media Relations Pager