Outlets still committed to female health

While media outlets have been cutting resources for a lot of beats, women's health is a category that still gets a lot of attention from producers and editors.

While media outlets have been cutting resources for a lot of beats, women's health is a category that still gets a lot of attention from producers and editors.

"It's on the rise and the major reason for that is women are taking a more proactive role in their own health," says Ogilvy Public Relations VP Laurie Elkin. "In turn, the media have been more focused on things like prevention and access to care."

The media's commitment to women's health issues is seen not just in the volume of coverage, but also in the type of stories covered.

"There used to be a sense that anything below the bellybutton was an uncomfortable subject for the media," notes Mary Coyle, SVP and director of healthcare media relations at MS&L. "That's no longer the case with women's health issues."

Glamour associate editor Sunny Gold echoes that view, noting that topics such as sexually transmitted diseases or birth control have been fair game in women-centric outlets for a long time.

But Gold, who specializes in health writing, adds, "The readers are getting very savvy and they require much more proof about the latest medical breakthrough. So what we'll do is indicate to the reader whether this was a large study or a gold-standard trial, and we always try to tell the reader what institution did the work."

Jennifer Pfahler, EVP at Edelman's consumer health practice, says the other major trend is where women are going for their medical information.

"We have statistics noting that women now get over a third of their health information online," she says. "That includes content providers like WebMD, as well as women bloggers who are talking about their own health."

Pfahler recommends "consumerizing" complex women's health information. "You want to include tips or to-do lists because most women today are juggling so much they may not have time to read longer pieces."

Megan Svensen, EVP and director of Marina Maher Communications' healthcare division, adds, "You also want to make that emotional connection with women so they'll respond to your message and feel that they're part of a larger community."

But surprisingly, Gold says that, at least at Glamour, they're unlikely to use any medical expert provided by a PR firm or healthcare company.

"I do take a lot of desk-side briefings from PR companies," she says. "It can be helpful when they bring along medical experts because they can help me work through some of the technical aspects of a health issue. But in terms of using that expert for a story, I won't do it."

PITCHING... Women's health

Include a medical expert to provide third-party validation for a women's health-related pitch, but don't count on getting them quoted

This is a trend-driven media category, so look to pitch big-picture stories rather than individual women's health-related products

Make sure you're matching your product to the outlet. You don't want to pitch a menopause story to Cosmopolitan or Glamour or a birth-control product to Redbook or More

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