In-house experts can help transparency, understanding

Many organizations look in-house for experts that can speak to the media and act as spokespeople to comment on trends, products, and practices.

Many organizations look in-house for experts that can speak to the media and act as spokespeople to comment on trends, products, and practices.

For healthcare organizations, the on-staff doctors, physicians, and scientists can provide needed guidance to journalists about complex medical topics, as well as raise the institution's profile with mainstream and trade outlets.

At Johns Hopkins Medicine, a Baltimore-based hospital system, a number of physicians and faculty regularly publish their findings in medical journals. This research often filters into the mainstream media.

Joann Rodgers, director of media relations and public affairs at the hospital system, says that providing media outreach for a physician who has published findings is a way to proactively seek coverage.

“People are looking for specialists, and we want to put as much information out there as possible,” she says.

Rodgers adds that because Johns Hopkins receives funding from the National Institutes of Health, placing staff physicians in the media is one way to show the public how money is being spent.

“There's a broader idea of the public understanding of medicine and science,” she says. “We can tell them what our people do.”

On the corporate side, when a reporter calls Pfizer to ask about a drug, the communications team refers the call to an in-house medical expert. That policy has become more formalized in the past year, says Ray Kerins, VP of worldwide communications at the New York-based pharmaceutical giant.

“When a reporter calls about a product, they should learn from a Pfizer medical spokesperson,” he says, adding that medical experts can offer a clear explanation of what might be a complex issue.

Key points:

  • Providing experts can show the public, stakeholders, and employees what the organization is doing
  • Tapping into an expert's knowledge helps a reporter understand a complex issue
  • Building media attention for a medical expert can lead to more public interest

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