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Smart Thinking blog

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HCA releases new PR media guide

The guide aims to help healthcare PR professionals understand how best to approach journalists

The Healthcare Communications Association (HCA) and Medical Journalists’ Association (MJA) have launched a new best practice guide:6-point guide to approaching health journalists with a media story.

Based on research by the Medical Journalists' Association and feedback from their members, the guide aims to help all those working in healthcare PR understand how best to approach journalists with a media story, highlighting many of the common do’s and don’ts that can impact the working relationship between journalists and PR professionals.

Launching the guide, Mike Dixon, CEO of the HCA said: “The HCA regularly invites health journalists to speak to our members. It is frightening to hear the consistency in how journalists want to be approached and then the degree to which this is just not happening appropriately.

“At best this puts a journalist off working with the particular individual or their organisation, at worst it taints their view of the whole healthcare communications profession, lessening their enthusiasm to engage with us at all,” he added.

The MJA supports the publication of the guide. Jane Symons, Vice Chair of the MJA said: “As the organisation representing health and medical journalists, we surveyed our members to understand the key challenges they face in working with healthcare PR professionals. And as a working journalist, I am not surprised by the six key points which emerged and are highlighted in the guide. Like many of my colleagues, I never cease to be surprised by the tsunami of poorly targeted pitches I receive.

“But I also know that a pitch which has been thought through and provides something new, or a new take on a perennial issue, can be incredibly helpful. This guide is a great resource for those just starting in PR, but it also provides a useful checklist and reminder of the core principles to follow when approaching journalists with a story,” she added.

The new guide forms part of the HCA’s continued drive to help set best practice standards for the healthcare communications sector.

As the new chair of the HCA’s Standards and Best Practice committee, Alister Sansum, Director of Scientific & Medical Communications at Publicis Health hopes the guide will be used as a useful reminder.

“It is so important that everybody acts responsibly in dealing with healthcare journalists. Not following these simple principles damages our profession’s image with these important partners in our work,” Sansum said.

“Agencies, please use this guide when planning campaigns with your clients and vice versa. As a sector, it is important we maintain and build our relationship with journalists as we all have the same desire to see accurate and informative health information reach our target audiences,” he added.

The 6-point guide to approaching health journalists with a media story is available via the HCA website at https://the-hca.org/6-point-guide.pdf

17th February 2021

From: PME

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