Working with the Media
Please use the following guidelines when seeking news coverage for programs, research and/or OpEds at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.
When You Receive a Call from the Media
Please refer all members of the media to the Media Relations (617) 358-7838. In order to ensure consistency, accuracy and the favorable positioning of the School and the interests of researchers and clinicians, all contacts with or responses to the media should be made by the Communications Office. Staff screen media calls to determine a reporter’s story angle and to provide advice on the best response. In addition, the Office assists in planning, scheduling and logistics for interviews
What Makes Medical News
Although medical reporters are most interested in covering medical discoveries, breakthroughs and therapies that affect a large population or that deal with diseases that are the most common causes of serious illness and death, it is always beneficial to discuss your research with communications staff to determine its potential news value. Additionally, the media is very interested in medical trends (alternative medicine, flu shots, fitness, etc…) that relate to their readers or viewers. The Communications Office monitors medical trends and offers experts for comment.
When to Pitch the Media
The Communications Office has well established relationships with many members of the local and national media. As such, the Office can provide guidance on which reporters/outlets might be interested in your news or opinions.
Medical reporters are most interested in covering research when results are ready to be presented at a medical conference or published in a peer-review journal. The more prestigious the journal (NEJM, JAMA, etc.) the more attention is likely to be paid by the reporter. There are times, however, when the subject matter under study is so novel or has such great potential, it makes sense to go to the press before preliminary results are available.
In the case of an unusual IRB-approved procedure or treatment, the best time to go to the press is usually either prior to or immediately following the procedure. Humanizing the story by including patients, subjects, or care providers is helpful in garnering media attention.
Why is Media Coverage Important
Favorable media coverage enhances the image and reputation of the school and the medical campus to external and internal audiences, gives recognition to individual researchers and clinicians, and stimulates the interest of research funding sources and potential donors.
When to Contact the Communications Office
Notify the Communications Office as soon as you receive notification that a study will be presented or published, this allows staff to prepare a comprehensive communications plan, write news releases and devise an appropriate list of media contacts. When submitting an OpEd please notify the Communications Office so that the Office may help you refine your message and strategize as to the most appropriate media outlet(s).
What is the Process
Media Relations will develop a plan, prepare a press release if appropriate and communications plan for the faculty to review. At the appropriate time, the press release will be distributed to media representatives for potential news coverage.
The Communications Office adheres to all embargoes set by medical journals prior to their publication date. All releases pertaining to journal articles will be addressed with the specific embargo information.
If a press release is distributed about your research or medical news, you or a designated colleague will need to be available for interviews. Media Relations will arrange all interviews to best fit your schedule and meet reporters’ deadlines. Most reporters will want to incorporate an interview with a patient, if appropriate. As a result, the Communications Office will need your help in identifying and contacting patients. Written consent must be obtained from patients prior to any interview.
To increase visibility of the hospital and medical school, we routinely contact physicians/researchers to offer their expert comment on a study to the local media. Additionally, we receive requests from the media on a daily basis for medical experts to comment on breaking medical news stories. Again, we may contact a School medical expert to gauge their interest in speaking with the media about these medical stories.
The Communications Office will prepare press releases on newsworthy donations, grants and news of interest to business reporters.
Clinical Trial Publicity
Researchers often ask for help gaining publicity to attract subjects for their clinical trials. The Communications Office can provide assistance for developing public service announcements and calendar listings for distribution to media outlets.
When faculty receive an honor please notify the Communications Office.