Engage the Media
Even with the onslaught of social media, the general public still turns to traditional media for credible information. The nation's largest independent medical student organization, AMSA, has amazing members who are constantly working on local and national projects that benefit their patients and the medical community. AMSA's core values lie in fighting for social justice, and in empowering future physicians to change the world.
Media relations is an important tool for AMSA members who want to effect change. AMSA's Engage the Media Toolkit has been developed to help you raise awareness and ultimately make a difference. The toolkit provides information on writing press releases, reaching out to local media, writing letters to the editor and opinion-editorials, using AMSA resources to connect with other members and crafting a good story.
If you have additional questions, AMSA's Communication & Marketing Department is happy to help you! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media coverage is one of the best ways to gain the attention of decision-makers, from local elected officials to members of Congress. All monitor the media. Every congressional office has a staff person who monitors the news in the district or state and clips articles that mention the representative or senator by name. These articles are circulated to staff each week. Decisions to support legislative initiatives are frequently influenced by the media coverage.
Getting media coverage doesn’t have to be hard. By taking a few minutes to write a letter to the editor, you can reach thousands of people including policymakers.
Build a Media List
The first step is to build a media list. Start by familiarizing yourself with the local media – read the newspaper and watch the local news. This will help you find reporters who will cover issues relating to medical education and health care. You want to target the best media outlets that will ultimately reach your intended audience.
Once you know what papers or stations you want to reach, you should create a list of media contacts. Developing a list takes time and you should continuously update it. Gather as much information as you can (phone number, email, fax, etc).
Letter to the Editor
A letter to the editor is the simplest way to communicate an opinion to the general public.
- A letter to the editor should be short (no more than 200 words). The shorter a letter, the more likely it is to get printed.
- If the letter responds to a particular article or another letter, refer to the title, date and author of the original piece in your opening sentence.
Op-eds are another effective way to express your opinions in the newspaper. A newspaper may accept up to two op-eds per year, depending upon the relevance of your organization or the issue to community events.
Op-eds should be:
- Persuasive on an issue or viewpoint.
- Thoughtful and well written.
- Relatively short (500 words is an ideal length).
- Signed by the head of an organization or president of its advisory board when possible.
Read more: AMSA's Engage the Media Toolkit