Briefings help educate reporters on products and topics

Many companies provide background and insight to journalists via meetings in one-on-one and group settings.

Many companies provide background and insight to journalists via meetings in one-on-one and group settings. But for health companies, such sessions are especially useful.

The topics of health, drugs, diseases, and devices are complex and always evolving, says Todd Ringler, MD of national health media relations at Edelman. Therefore, background briefings are a good way to educate reporters when they are not facing imminent deadlines.

Device-maker Radi Medical Systems invited a Wall Street Journal reporter, who was seeking information to about interventional cardiology procedures, to a hospital to observe a procedure and speak with cardiologists, according to David Schull, president of Russo Partners, which works with Radi.

And as many reporters and editors are taking buyouts or being laid off during the recession and poor advertising climate, there is a greater need to educate those who have taken over health beats, Ringler adds.

He also notes that background briefings with reporters should be part of a strategic plan. Companies should select which spokespeople to provide, which reporters to brief, and the timing based on upcoming announcements, embargoes, or product launches, Ringler says.

“It's a way to break through the noise,” he says, adding that client AstraZeneca was successful with group briefings on various breast cancer topics for the last two years.

Wylie Tene, PR manager at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), says that he has found that some journalists are not receptive to formal meetings. However, he did schedule a conference call with the AFSP's medical director and a reporter and editor from a newspaper that had published a graphic story.

Key Points:

  • Organizations can educate journalists about product, technology, or device information, developments
  • Briefings help reporters understand a topic, without the pressure of a deadline
  • Companies can control which reporters they speak with and which spokespeople they provide

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