WebMD is more than just a website for health news. While it does feature the latest medical developments, it is also the place for reference articles, community support groups, and live discussions with healthcare providers.
Here, PRWeek speaks with WebMD's editor-in-chief about what 20 million monthly visitors want to know about their health.
PRWeek: With all the health news available on the internet, where do you see WebMD's niche?
Marjorie Martin: What we have that's different is we actually have full-time physicians on staff. They play an active role in the editorial operation. They review everything that goes on the site, except for third-party content, but even in that area we require that the provider have physicians review that content.
PRWeek: Does having physicians on your editorial board also speak to a larger news philosophy that sets you apart?
Martin: It really does. In having physicians on staff, we are also able to create content that has a lot more depth to it. We challenge ourselves every day to make sure that we bring information back, really, to the user's home. In other words, what does it really mean to this person on an everyday basis? If it's an announcement about a drug, is it going to be available tomorrow? If so, where can they get it? How much is it going to cost? We really try to get into the everyday realities in our coverage.
PRWeek: Which health stories get the most attention?
Martin: For us, we really do look [at stories] pretty clinically. At least for our user base, that's where they really live most of the time. They really do want to know the pharmaceutical industry - and the device industry - is working on their behalf to develop new products in the future that might help them. We have a lot of people who are newly diagnosed. We have a lot of people who come just for general information; they just want to live in a more healthy way, looking out for themselves, as well as their families. And the other category that we have is, obviously, people who have chronic illnesses.
PRWeek: And you've also covered the Medicare changes?
Martin: Yes, absolutely. There's been a lot of reluctance and confusion. We now have a dedicated Medicare reporter in Washington. It's that complicated a topic - it's that big a topic - that this person is going to continue to cover that for us.
PRWeek: Is there anything you would want PR people to know about pitching stories?
Martin: The one thing I love to remind PR people about is that they have a lot of information that we really want, especially where there's new product development going on. Our users cannot get enough information that's along those lines. Let us know what's out there and that the FDA is looking at it, and what the studies have shown.
Name: Marjorie Martin
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