Further healthcare conference quotes

‘Getting your message across: the power of healthcare journals' conference, Hammersmith, London, 18 October 2006 - quotes of the day from workshop sessions.

Colin COOPER, editor in chief, GP:

...‘The pharma industry faces a lot of competition to get into our paper. Our news editor has received more than 200 press releases in the past five working days… 50 per cent of these are about general political news; 20 per cent from journals; 10 per cent about laboratory stuff; seven per cent each on books, events and pharma news; and four per cent business news.'

...‘We have a constant battle to get good pictures. GP spends £1,000 per week on one picture agency alone. A better picture will give [your story] a better chance.'

...‘Last week some PR person emailed everyone on GP's news-desk with the same release: that sort of behaviour means whatever is contained within the release is likely to loose its value.'

...‘Phoning up to follow up a press release can often be counterproductive. It is frustrating to get phonecalls from admin-type PR people who don't actually even know what is in the press release. Maybe this is a problem less now than it used to be, though,'

Rob FINCH, news editor, HOSPITAL DOCTOR:

...‘If PR people send an email the subject line must say something interesting in order for me to open the email: and if you're sending in pictures please avoid pictures of middle-aged white men cutting ribbons.'

Jo HAYNES, editor, PULSE:

...‘You must tailor your messages to our readers. We want to hear about developments that have practical implications for GPs - we get inundated by press releases on drugs that are never going to be prescribed in primary-care.'

...‘I can't remember one instance when a follow-up call about a press release has been effective.'

...‘Press events can be useful if you can get people of national renown there - for example, people on national guideline committees. But we tend to go to a minority of events we are invited to.'

Cherry WOOD, MD, ATHENA MEDICAL PR:

...‘The heady days of getting 30-40 people turning up at a press conference seem to be no more - there are more PR agencies and fewer pharma companies these days.'

Charles CRESWELL, editor, DOCTOR:

...‘All healthcare publications are deluged each week by PR companies… it is quite common to have someone on the end of the phone talking in a string of acronyms. You won't win the commissioning editor as a friend if you do that.'

...‘A very small proportion of features in Doctor will have originated in a discussion with a PR company. We would normally choose the author for a piece - PR companies should [merely] seed an idea and leave us to develop it. We usually don't publish pieces by "suggested authors".'

Tim DEAN, editor, PRESCRIBER:

...‘I don't like the phrase "placed copy"… Doctors are very busy people and it would very rare for them to spontaneously write a 1,500-word article. We always ask them if there has been third-party involvement and then often say yes - but often they will flatly deny third-party involvement, but when you "click" on the Word document, you can see it's been through a PR agency. This is a very worrying area - there's a lot of talk at the moment, after all, about "disguised promotion".'

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