Reaching out through social and traditional media can be a powerful force for pulse oximetry. Not only is this type of outreach an opportunity to educate the public about screening for CHD, but to spread awareness of congenital heart defects, which will spur more donations and help to make sure every pregnant woman is aware of the most common birth defect.
While working with the media is effective, sometimes reaching out can backfire. No need to be nervous about contacting the media or using social media to talk about pulse oximetry. Simply make sure you do your research by reading reliable resources like this site, government and university sites and other third-party sites with a level of authority.
Twitter, Facebooking and blogging are all effective way to reach other people in your state, and find experts to join your cause.
- Most states already have a Facebook page. If you started the page, make sure to update regularly, at least a few times a week. Share news about pulse ox and CHD screening. Avoid flooding the page with several articles about CHD a day. An occasional related article or site is alright, but more than that and people will hide your page in the news feed.
- If you didn’t start the Facebook page but want to be involved, consider asking on the page to become an admin, or participating actively by contributing. If you have a state page, let others get involved and become admins. Enough work exists for everyone.
- Avoid getting into heated arguments that turn ugly. While debating is okay, act professional on your advocacy page and hold it in if someone makes you angry, or contact the person in private.
- Keep everyone updated about the progress, but don’t post information unless your sure it’s not confidential, like updates from your lawmaker or a hospital administration team that aren’t meant for the general public.
- Reach out to other pulse ox pages, “like” the pages and follow the pulse oximetry conversation.
- If a lawmaker introduces a bill in your state and has a Facebook page, like the page and thank the lawmaker.
- Set up a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, but visiting the site’s homepage. If you already have a page, consider adding something about pulse ox to your bio. This is an overview of using Twitter if you’re unfamiliar with the site.
- Tweet about pulse oximetry screening and add the hash tag “#pulseox” to the end of your tweets so others can find you. Also tweet using “#CHD” at the end of tweets.
- Make sure that you’re interacting with others and not just posting links from a Facebook or blog. Retweet other users and respond to others. Have conversations.
- Write about pulse oximetry screening on your current blog.
- Start a blog about CHD, or your life, and write about your efforts.
- Ask to write about pulse oximetry screening on blogs you read. Most blogs accept a well-written and thought out post.
While newspapers, radio and television stations aren’t read as much as before the Internet. These mediums are still effective for reaching large groups of people.
Pitch your local story:
- Write targeted personal emails with your story to local reporters. You can often find the reporters emails under stories in the paper or on the website. Target the reporter that’s most appropriate, usually the health reporter. Call the paper and ask for the health reporter if you’re unsure.
- Follow-up with a phone call or email. Reporters are busy. You might have to write several emails or calls to get a story.
- Tell a riveting story. Have others look at your email and practice your story on the phone with friends.
- Reach out to health shows, on most news stations at noon.
- Don’t overlook radio stations. Radio stations are often overlooked and are more likely to interview you. Find the local news station covering your area.
Talking to Reporters:
- Slow down and speak up!
- Keep in mind that most journalists will no nothing about pulse oximetry and many will know nothing about CHD, as well the general public. Talk to the reporter’s knowledge level.
- Write down key points in advance as “talking points” about pulse oximetry and CHD.
- It’s almost a given the story will leave out something you wanted or get something wrong. Deliver a clear, concise message to get the right message out.
- If you don’t know something, don’t fumble, just say that you want to make sure you get the statistic or fact exactly right and that you’ll follow up with an email or phone call.
- The reporter will not let you read the news story or watch footage before it airs. Don’t ask. It’s awkward for the reporter.
- Good reporters want at least three sources per story so think of good media contacts. This could be someone working at the national level, but local contacts are best. Try to develop a relationship with pediatric cardiologists to talk to the reporter.
- Once you get a bill, the lawmaker might release a press release. Don’t be surprised if the legislator doesn’t mention you.
- If you’re nervous before talking to a reporter, reach out for help.