So now you have finally done it, you have journalists calling, texting, DMing, emailing and snail mailing you. They want to feature you in their latest articles and need your specific expertise on a particular medical phenomenon.
This is the media relations equivalent of the 10 yard line, and it is essential not to fumble. So, you hang up your white coat, have a cup of coffee by your side at your desk and you wonder aloud: “how do I respond?”
Tips for responding to a media interview
Remember: you are the expert, so your commentary must always be grounded in fact and in your expertise. With that being said, remember that from a media relations and PR perspective, what you say must be digestible and usable. Your commentary is not going into a medical journal or textbook, but rather in an article that needs to be clear to a broad audience. For this reason, striking the right balance between factual and not-too-technical is key to success.
Secondly, you want your comments to be engaging. Avoid being unnecessarily sensationalist, but if you have a highly quotable comment to share, or a salient experience or opinion, go for it. You want the article to have impact and reach, and the more you can make an impact with the journalist and with their audience, the more likely your comments are to be used, and the more likely the article is to be widely shared. If you have gold, give the journalist the gold.
Let’s try an example. You are an infectious disease specialist, and Jenny the Journalist has solicited your comments on a non-deadly but very itchy disease called purple platypus pox (PPP) that impacts elementary-school kids. Jenny wants to know what parents should do to help manage the spread this PPP season. You, as the expert, should respond with practical tips and commentary. Feel free to share an anecdote about a time a patient had PPP and what you encouraged their patents to do to stop the spread. Be real, be clear, but don’t get too in the weeds about the molecular structure of the PPP virus and how its shape impacts the spread.