Interview: Paula Ford Martin

Paula Ford Martin has been a consumer healthcare writer for more than a decade, but for the past five years, she has shifted her focus to diabetes.

Paula Ford Martin has been a consumer healthcare writer for more than a decade, but for the past five years, she has shifted her focus to diabetes.

Currently, she serves as managing editor of dLife, a multimedia information and advocacy source for type 1 and type 2 diabetics.

PRWeek: What's your opinion of the coverage diabetes gets from mainstream media?

Paula Ford Martin: There are things that they don't get. The New York Times has been giving the issue a lot of coverage, and more recently they did a piece on the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, and how people don't understand that they are two very different things.
People hear "the obesity crisis" and "the diabetes epidemic," and they automatically think that everyone who is heavy can get diabetes, and there's a lot of misinformation and myths that come out of that.

PRWeek: What's your opinion of the way the media are covering the childhood obesity issue? Are companies such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's being treated unfairly?

Ford Martin: That's really a tough question to answer. There is certainly enough blame to go around, but the one thing that's most important for people to remember is that this is certainly a family lifestyle issue, and you don't just focus on the child losing weight.
If the child has a weight problem, nine out of 10 times it's not just a result of isolated issues with them, it's a family thing. So [the media] educating parents more is a big part of doing something about this.

PRWeek: What makes a good PR person?

Ford Martin: Someone who has taken the time to truly educate themselves on the topic before making the phone call to me. Sometimes it's painfully apparent that people just don't know anything about diabetes, and yet they're trying to pitch me a story.

I just appreciate when they take the time to try to inform themselves. Even if it's something I'm not going to use, I'll remember that they did that and keep it in mind for next time.

PRWeek: Do the majority of PR reps know what they're talking about when they call you?

Ford Martin: Some of them are very, very scripted, and when you start asking them questions that pull them off that script, it can be kind of obvious.

PRWeek: What is the biggest misconception of diabetes among the general public?

Ford Martin: The confusion between type 1 and type 2. Also, many people are misinformed about how others get type 2. There's a strong genetic factor for it. Yet if they see someone with type 2, they think they have it because they're lazy and eat too much. That's not true.

Name: Paula Ford Martin

Outlet: dLife

Title: Managing editor

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