The media landscape has changed,
thanks to the internet and the proliferation of blogs, websites, tweets and
the array of social media. But let’s not
forget the influence of older media.
Yes, newspapers are not as thick as they
used to be, and local radio stations increasingly play canned content. But in
smaller communities, they generally
are open to local commentary.
Here are some easy ways that those
who live outside of metropolitan ar-
eas can use the local media to connect
with the public.
Write a letter to the editor
Letters are the easiest and sometimes
most effective way to be heard. Many
readers turn first to the letters. Having
the New York Times publish your letter
is akin to winning the lottery. Submit-
ting a letter to your hometown daily
often is a sure thing. Most weeklies
and smaller dailies will print just about
anything, especially if it’s written by a
Educate your audience
Newspapers love to highlight local
differences of opinion. Your name will
be attached, so don’t argue, educate.
Use the same tone you’d use talking to
a patient in the office. This is particu-
larly important if you’re commenting
on a local dispute, e.g., responding to
a strident local anti-vaxxer. Because
letters may be edited only lightly, be
careful about syntax, grammar, spell-
ing and above all, facts.
Use your connections to do more
Respond when the media call you
Don’t forget radio
Much the same applies to getting
on one of the ubiquitous call-in radio
programs. If you’re unable to be a studio guest, you can always call in, with
or without identifying yourself. Better
yet, offer to host a regularly scheduled
medical program and use the forum to
educate your audience.
Amplify your success
with social media
When you get into the paper, be it
a letter, op-ed, interview or quote, tell
your Facebook and Twitter friends. If
you’re scheduled on broadcast media,
let them know ahead of time.
Of course, not everybody will agree
with what you have to say, including
some of your patients, but the possibility of alienating them is small. The
problems affecting our patients are
such that you’ll be most effective as a
pediatrician if you periodically reach
outside the comfort of your office to
inform and enlighten your community. Use the influence you have. In
a small community, it’s considerable.
Dr. Fuld is a member
of the AAP Council on
Media and former chair
of the council’s executive