Every person that steps into a hospital has a story to tell. As a media professional, it’s important to actively look for these stories.
Along with patient stories, most departments have some kind of new procedure or technique or technology to treat an illness. It’s important to always keep the marketing department in the loop with what is going on, particularly if you think it will yield a good media story. Stories that the media look for include:
- human interest stories
- interaction with the community
- new technology
- educational health programs for the public
- innovative health care procedures
- special events, celebrations
For a certain kind of reporter, it’s important to realize they may attempt to get you to answer a question in a way that could be potentially embarrassing or harmful to the hospital. In situations like these, it is crucial to keep your composure and remember that you don’t have to answer the question within the framework given to you by the reporter. This happened to me on the first day of my job. Be able to spot these tactics that could be used and know how to counteract them:
False Premise: The reporter makes an assumption about the hospital that is incorrect. Do not restate their error in your answer — or even deny it. Instead, say, “That’s not true. The truth is…” or, “That’s not an accurate statement.”
Hypothetical Questions: You are given a “what if” situation and asked to comment or give your opinion. Never make guesses or speculate during an interview — respond only to real situations.
Phantom Authority: In this situation, the reporter makes a vague reference to a study or quote made by some authority. Never respond to this type of question unless the reporter can provide you with the exact data. If the data is produced, you are within your rights to take time to review it before you respond to the question.
Unacceptable Alternatives: The reporter gives you a choice between two situations and wants to know which one you prefer. Do not hesitate to state a third option that you support and give an explanation why.
Badgering: The same question is asked dozens of times by a persistent reporter tying to get the answer he or she desires. Never concede the point just to get the reporter to stop.
Rapid-Fire Questions: The reporter “fires” one question after another without waiting for a response. Do not let this rattle you. Instead take one question at a time. If you are confronted with several questions, select the one you want to respond to and disregard the rest.
Also published on Medium.