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Working with the media to get your message heard

Health is a hot topic. News stories and feature articles on healthcare, health research and personal health experiences are commonplace in the mainstream media and journalists are often looking for a personal perspective on the topic.

A media interview may seem like a daunting prospect. It can feel overwhelming to share something so personal and you may not be sure about the best way to get your message heard. However, the media can be a very valuable platform. If you want to help people understand more about your condition, share your perspective on how health services are delivered, or give an opinion on a new law or policy that affects you, then telling your story can help more people take notice of the issues you are concerned about.

So, what top tips can you follow to see your story in the news?


Framing your story

There are a number of elements a journalist will look for when they are working on a story. If there is an issue you feel strongly about, but you’re unsure if it will be of interest to the media, then ask yourself the following questions:

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, then this is the kind of story that a journalist may be looking for.

Contacting journalists

Working with the press office at a patient organisation or healthcare establishment can make the job of reaching the media easier as they are likely to have contacts with local health reporters. If you are working individually, you could use the following steps:


Preparing for an interview

It is important to be prepared for a media interview to ensure that you get your key message across and to give a journalist important information on the topic to help with their story:


Accessing further support

The European Patient Ambassador Programme provides more information on how to successfully work with the media and top tips for media interviews. You could also contact your local patient organisation for more support before engaging with the media.

Remember that you are an expert in your field and you know your topic well through your own personal experiences. Think about the messages you want people to take away from the news story and keep this at the forefront of your mind during interviews with the media.

Successful interaction with the media could lead to the positive changes you are looking for, such as reducing stigma, improving funding or even affecting policies and legislation.  

By Lauren Anderson, freelance health communications and media expert