What Makes News? How To Translate Your Project Into “Media Speak”

Your study is about to be published in a medical journal or your initiative unveiled to the public. You want to garner media attention and reach important stakeholders. Below are some tips to help frame your work in terms that help the media appreciate its significance:

  • See if you can connect your work to a topic already in the news. For example, if you direct a local health clinic servicing an underserved community, your efforts might be tied to national trend stories on the need to reduce health care costs or to provide medical care for the underserved. Or perhaps you can peg your story to a regional or statewide issue.
  • Summarize your work in two or three easy-to-understand messages, and include a “call to action.”
  • Specify what sets your study or initiative apart from others addressing the same issue. A reporter considering a story about your project will want to know how it benefits the public’s health and well-being, and how it adds to previous media coverage of the subject.
  • Chances are your findings include numbers. Use them to demonstrate the extent of a problem and to make your findings more tangible. (“This procedure can improve the health of one in 12 people in our state.”)
  • As you translate your research or initiative into media-friendly language, imagine yourself describing it to a relative who has no idea what your work is about. The goal is to make it easy for a lay audience to understand.

By putting yourself in a media professional’s shoes, you can help your bid for news coverage stand out from the crowd.