Working with the Press

General Tips

  • Don’t get blindsided. Negotiate the groundrules for an interview in advance. Set a time limit and feel free to ask "What’s your angle for the story?" "When is your deadline?" and "Who else do you plan to interview?"
  • Set the agenda. Despite the reporter’s angle, stay on message. Be prepared to drive home a few main points, supported by one or two strong statistics and personal examples. Use ACEP’s fact sheets and talking points as resources for identifying your core messages.
  • Relax, be personable, use plain English. Don’t use medical jargon.
  • Put a human face on the issues. Talk about the issue’s impact on your patients.
  • Always respond in a positive way. Don’t repeat negative words. Defensive: "Our emergency department is not providing poor service!" Strong: "The emergency staff are working incredibly hard to provide the best possible service to our patients."
  • Use body language effectively. Don’t distract people from your words with folded or clasped arms, rocking motions, hands in pockets, or postures that prevent you from moving naturally. Avoid sympathetic nodding.
  • Never lose your temper, argue, bluff, or lie.

If the national press calls, call ACEP’s PR Department first. As ACEP’s primary spokesperson, the President may want to handle the call or designate specific members to handle the topic.

Respond quickly.
Most reporters are on deadline. You must be reliable and accessible to conduct media relations activities.

Coordinate interviews with your hospital.
Learn your hospital’s rules for conducting media relations. Develop relationships with your hospital’s public relations staff and coordinate your activities with them. Make them aware you are media trained and interested in doing interviews.

Identify yourself as an ACEP spokesperson.
If ACEP coordinates the interview, please identify yourself as an ACEP spokesperson (or your State Chapter), as well as for your hospital. If your hospital coordinates the interview, mention ACEP if possible.

Read ACEP policy statements, fact sheets, and talking points.
Before the interview, visit ACEP’s Web site. Fact sheets and talking points are available on a wide variety of topics. Annals of Emergency Medicine also is a valuable source of data and information.

Keep messages consistent.
When emergency physicians communicate consistent messages at the national and state levels, the specialty is seen as united, which increases its effectiveness.

Participate in training.
ACEP offers media training and presentation training each year at Scientific Assembly and the Leadership and Legislative Issues Conference. ACEP’s spokepersons must participate in at least one media training session.

For media assistance, call ACEP’s Public Relations Department at 800-320-0610, ext 3008.

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