Media at PH Events
Hosting a support group meeting or a special event is a great way to raise pulmonary hypertension awareness in your area. You can multiply your impact by working with reporters to get your event covered by local media.
Getting publicity isn’t complicated, but it does require advance planning and some persistence. Your story is already attractive because it highlights a local event, local community members and a good cause, but when and how you approach the media can influence whether your event gets coverage. These tips will help by showcasing your event in ways that are appealing and helpful to the media:
- Start early. Plan at least 6-8 weeks ahead of your event. Remember that some places your story could be mentioned are seen only once a week – such as weekend event calendars. This means journalists plan farther ahead and need more advance notice to publish your information. Always have dates, times, costs, phone numbers and other essential information ready to share before you contact any media.
- Seek advance coverage and follow-up coverage. Advance coverage promotes wider attendance at your event and therefore better chances to raise more money. Coverage at the event or after the event may not raise funds, but it still helps more people become aware of PH.
- Tie the event to a larger theme about PH that can become the basis of stories in the media. This will help you differentiate your event from the many others media could choose to cover. Some examples of themes might be: pediatric PH, early diagnosis, inspiring stories of how PH patients cope and adapt, caregiving, the impact of PH on the family, and long-term survivors. The theme will be especially strong if it relates to something newsworthy because it is just happening -- the anniversary of a patient achieving a health milestone, for instance, or something people in the community are doing in honor of a patient.
- Tell personal stories from the local community. Seek permission first from those whose stories you want to tell. Be sure to ask if they mind being public about their experiences and being photographed or filmed.
- Line up medical professionals such as physicians, nurses, or respiratory therapists who can explain PH to the media. Have their contact information ready to share with journalists.
- Use PHA materials and resources including our media kits, "Understanding PH" DVD, public service announcements for radio and television, the "Let me Breathe" video and The Early Diagnosis Campaign: Sometimes it's PH website.
- Approach a variety of news outlets including print, radio, television and online. Online media may include local bloggers and highly localized news websites such as Patch.com in some communities. Print and broadcast news organizations also have their own websites. Sometimes these sites carry additional content beyond what was in the paper or on the news broadcast. Some of these sites also allow you to post your own community information. When working with media, remember that several news organizations can carry the story on the same day, so if you can, pitch to more than one.
- Pitch your story to multiple contacts at each news organization. Think of your story from different angles such as health story, feature/human interest story, charity events, entertainment events, community news, etc. Emphasize health to the health reporter, human interest to the feature editor, community news to the calendar editor and so on. The more people you can approach, the more likely you are to find one who says yes.
- Use social media to promote attendance at your event. Post information on your Facebook page or other social media sites and have your friends and fellow event organizers do the same. Send these messages out regularly in advance of your event with varied themes as the event gets closer. For instance: After an initial announcement of the event, make a second posting that adds a few lines about PH or a local PH patient, then a third posting updating people on things like new auction items or the latest registration numbers for the event, etc. Try to add a new detail or vary the headline to emphasize different elements of the event so the postings aren’t repetitive.
- Widen your social networks through support groups or other groups you participate in such as book clubs, sports teams or church groups. Ask a local support group leader to share information about the event with group members through email or social media. Even if each member shares the information with just a few others, your audience will multiply.
- Get extra mileage when stories get coverage. Share them with supporters, volunteers and participants in your event, even after the event is over. The stories will be a way of showing your event has had an impact. Showcase media coverage on your website, fundraising page, in email correspondence, etc. If you do your event again, the existing coverage may help you in the next round of fundraising or media outreach. Journalists often react well to seeing how a story has been covered in the past so that they can envision their own approach.
We love seeing the results of your hard work and letting others in the PH community know of your successes, so share your victories with PHA! Contact Elisabeth Williams at PHAware@PHAssociation.org or 301-565-3004 x753.