THE BIG PITCH: Do you think anthrax is affecting your ability tocommunicate with the media?


On one hand, yes, anthrax is affecting our ability to pitch certain

stories for certain clients. On the other hand, we have a sizable

healthcare practice here at Klores. As a result, the healthcare group is

playing a major role in helping hospitals and other related clients get

public health messages about anthrax to the masses. We represent the

Beth Israel Continuum Health Partners System and Saint Vincent's

Catholic Medical Center System of New York. We have been very busy

working with these hospitals as they deal with their emergency rooms

being inundated with people who are perfectly healthy, but coming in for

anthrax testing and requesting Cipro. We are also facing the upcoming

flu season, when even more people who simply have the sniffles are

worried they have anthrax. That, along with trying to get our

non-healthcare clients back in the papers, is the challenge we face.



The anthrax scare is ultimately changing the way we communicate with the

media, but it does not have to hamper our efforts or diminish clients'

media coverage. Now more than ever, established relationships with

journalists are critical, as is demonstrating an understanding of the

strains facing the media and their news organizations' mailrooms. It is

imperative to rethink and retool communications efforts. Is bulk-mailing

really necessary? Are we properly counseling clients about news mailroom

issues? Have we polled journalists about their new mail preferences? We

have added the mailroom procedures of various news outlets to our

information base of journalists' beats, interests, and contact

preferences. Our job is still to develop and execute communications

strategies that will help tell clients' stories to their key audiences,

but now we must rethink how traditional mail carriers play into this new

communications outreach mix.



In many ways, I think that the anthrax scare has taken us back to

September 11. Things were starting to loosen up a bit. Then Tom Brokaw

got that letter, closing the window yet again. We need to realize that

there is an appetite for information outside of anthrax, but it is

narrow, and the news hole is very small. This is a time where people

need to lean on the relationships that they had in place before the

attacks. You cannot try and strike up new contacts or cold-call people

you don't know. I used to work as a producer and off-air reporter for

ABC. I also used to cover the state department at the news bureau in

Washington, DC. I still have to think twice before picking up the phone

to pitch a story, but it is about putting yourself on the other end of

the conversation, and knowing how to approach your contacts.



The anthrax scare is affecting our ability to talk with the media in a

very positive way. As one of the nation's 28 colleges of veterinary

medicine, we offer a voice of scientific reason during this frenzied

maelstrom of anthrax-related media coverage. In fact, veterinary

microbiologists working in our Center for Molecular Medicine and

Infectious Diseases are currently funded by the US Army to develop a new

anthrax vaccine for people and animals. This crisis has elevated the

profile of the profession of veterinary medicine. Many people tend to

stereotype veterinary medicine as a segment of medicine that cares for

sick animals. But the public practice dimension of this profession is

all about protecting the abundance and safety of the nation's food

supply, and promoting public health. We can manage the anthrax threat,

but the media needs to remember to moderate public concerns with calm

and objective reporting.

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