Friday, June 13, 2008

Health Care Coverage in the Media

The Iraq War and the U.S. Economy are undisputedly two of the most prominent issues of 2008. Amidst all other issues in our society, health care ranks third according to ABC News Senior National Security Correspondent Jonathan Karl. Karl recently spoke at the PRSA Health Academy in Chicago and the PR Tactics periodical covered his research regarding PR practices surrounding health care coverage.

Besides the fact that, “people are clearly fed up with the system,” Karl noted that, “health care is by far the issue that people are most self-centered about. They want to know, ‘What’s going to serve my best interests?’” Nonetheless, PR professionals are challenged by the “dry, academic nature” and lack of “visual impact” health care proposals offer.

Therefore, Karl emphasizes the importance of getting away “from the abstract policy papers” and instead illustrating “a case study with real people, including how it actually affects somebody who’s got a health care issue.” Although Karl warns his audience that often reporters can make mistakes.

“Too many reporters don’t do their homework. Most reporters are generalists, so they often know nothing about a story subject until they cover it.” Therefore, Karl advises PR professionals to double check that the reporter understands the health care story before assembling a package for the reporter.

In the end, Karl reminds us to not get angry but instead be gentle with reporters to maintain a strong relationship. Karl’s speech offers valuable counsel to PR professionals on topics of dealing with the media and health care issues that we thought we would share.

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