PR pros having problems pitching sensitive health issues to press

NEW YORK: Amid fears of hefty Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fines, PR professionals are encountering various levels of difficulty in pitching stories on sensitive health topics.

NEW YORK: Amid fears of hefty Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fines, PR professionals are encountering various levels of difficulty in pitching stories on sensitive health topics.

Since the now famous Super Bowl incident in January when Janet Jackson exposed her breast, the FCC has been cracking down on violations of federal obscenity and indecency restrictions. It appears broadcasters and producers are more cautious about the content they air.

Judith Lederman, president of JSL Publicity & Marketing in Scarsdale, NY, said that since the Super Bowl, two clients have had radio outlets cancel interviews. One was QualiLife Pharmaceuticals, which markets Zestra for female sexual dysfunction.

"We're not quirky; we're a legitimate product," she said, adding that she always pitches Zestra in the context of health topics like menopause.

Lederman added that another client, a clinical psychologist, had her syndicated radio show dropped in three markets.

Chriss Scherer, Radio magazine editor, noted that live call-in shows generally have been more careful in booking guests.

Other account executives reported no difficulties in pitching media outlets on topics of sexual or reproductive health.

William Daddi, president of the consumer practice at Belsito & Co., said he isn't surprised that some broadcast outlets have shown hesitancy. But consumers are gathering their own health information, he said, and PR is moving toward a "one-to-one communications approach."

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