It is of vital importance for the TMS community to begin to advocate for TMS in order to reach more people suffering from chronic illnesses. One very effective way of doing this is by soliciting news coverage from the media. Unfortunately, recovered TMS sufferers may have passion and knowledge about TMS and their own experience, but may lack experience dealing with the media in a public relations capacity. This page seeks to present such an approach, as well as provide tips and advice on how to reach out to local and national media.
If you have experience dealing with the media, please start a thread at the bottom of this page, sharing your perspective and knowledge.
Daily newspapers can reach a large audience and effectively inform the public about specific issues and causes. All articles in newspapers are archived and can be easily accessed, meaning that a story about TMS will be forever archived allowing it to be viewed for years to come. There are several issues to keep in mind when reaching out to newspapers.
- They are not interested in hype. Reporters are not interested in providing PR for a person, organization, or event. They want to report the news. This means that anyone soliciting a story should avoid language that corresponds to hype. Focus on your personal battle with TMS or try to tie TMS in with another topic, such as health care and medical costs.
- Contact people on the front lines such as a section editor, features editor, or a beat writer. Reporters are usually eager to answer the phone, and their email address is usually listed somewhere in every story they write.
- If you make contact with a reporter be friendly, and make sure that you are familiar with their work.
- Be sensitive to deadlines. Most major papers are dailies and reporters are constantly working under a deadline. It is not to your advantage to call them when they are up against a deadline. Morning papers usually have a late afternoon deadline. The best time to call reporters would be in the late morning.
- Send a press packet before you contact them. This will give the reporter some information about TMS before you talk with them allowing for an informed discussion.
- Avoid the hard sell. If you make contact with a reporter do not try to pressure them into covering TMS. You must be willing to bend and that sometimes gaining a friendly media contact is more important that having a story written.
- Focus locally. While local papers do not reach as many people they are more willing to cover local issues.
- Print media likes statistics so provide several, but not an overwhelming amount
- An interview is business, but also a human conversation. Being friendly, relaxed, and open can put a positive spin on the story.
For pretty much every line of work there is a trade publication that covers it. These publications provide news and information to individuals in a specific field. TMS media coverage in trade publications can effectively inform medical professionals of TMS.
- These publications can be dailies, weeklies, or monthlies with some having special annual or bi-annual editions. Because of this it is important to be aware of the lead time when soliciting coverage.
- Trade reporters are experts in their fields, and will have extensive knowledge of the issue of chronic pain. These reporters should be addressed as equals in terms of knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter.
- Trade publications tend to be supportive of the field that they cover. They rarely write an attacking piece. They are more likely to be supportive of subject matter than newspapers.
Magazines have a major influence on people. While newspapers tend to be discarded rather quickly, people usually keep magazines for a longer period of time. This means that a magazine story may be referred back to more than a newspaper article which is thrown away after reading it.
- Magazines are national, which means that a potential story needs to appeal to a national audience. Make sure your pitch is broad.
- Many magazines run special issues. Investigate the different special issues and see if any of them could be related to TMS.
- When contacting magazines it is better to write than to call. A majority of magazine writers are freelancers, so they do not have an office. Mail can be forwarded to a specific reporter. Magazines list all of the editors on in the first few pages, so it will be easy to find someone to contact.
- Most magazines today have web content that is not printed in the actual magazine. If you strike out in getting a story in the magazine, try to get coverage on their website.
- It is important to try to link TMS to broader concepts, such as health care and medical costs. These are hot-button issues that can get TMS be part of a broader story.
Nightly news broadcast on television have become a major source where people get their news. They can raise awareness of a specific topic in a short amount of time.
- Local news broadcast can be a great place to get coverage for TMS.
- It is important to find the right person to contact. At the end of the broadcast they usually scroll a list of names of the production crew, as well as producers and editors. Initial contacts should be assignment or planning editors. Also find any one with the title of producer or editor. One tip on how to find these names is to record the end of the broadcast so you can pause when you see one of the names. This will allow you to write down the name.
- Newsrooms have a “future file” where they place all material they receive. Anything that you send the newsroom will be read and placed in a file.
- Keep in mind of the visual aspects of your story. News broadcasts tell stories based on visuals and this is always in the back of their mind.
- Call in the morning, not the afternoon when everyone is trying to prepare for the broadcast.
- Avoid calling during sweeps months (February, May, November).
- Weekends are the best time to get on the news. Since businesses and the government buildings are closed down these are slow news days, and editors are more open to interesting stories.
- Make sure your pitch is a genuine news angle. Convey how TMS is important to the viewers.
Submitting a Freelanced article
Another possible way of increasing media coverage for TMS for someone who is skilled at writing is to submit a freelanced article about TMS to a magazine. Make sure you carefully select the magazine that you are going to send your proposal to. A lot of times trade magazines are open to freelanced stories by individuals who have experience in a specific field, so they may be great choice. The following are a few tips to remember when submitting a proposal.
- Submit your proposal to an editor before you start writing the story. It may be frustrating to write an entire story and never hear back from the editor. You can find the appropriate person to send your article proposal to by looking at the Masthead in the magazine, which is usually on one of the first few pages.
- Don't propose the same story to multiple publications. It is a violates the honor code of exclusivity.
- Shorter is better than longer. By writing a shorter story you can have a greater impact and keep the audience's attention.
- Focus on one or two simple themes and use them to make your point in each paragraph.
- Make sure your writing is polished and free of typos and poor grammer. Have some you read over your work before you send it off.
- Try and make the attitude of the piece be upbeat and positive.
|DISCLAIMER: The TMS Wiki is for informational and support purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. See Full Disclaimer.|