Radiology and the Media
Here’s what you need to know about getting involved in the wider conversation in medicine.
As our healthcare paradigm continues to shift, it will become even more imperative for radiologists to make their presence known in this space. First and foremost, getting out there and debunking the myths regarding radiology and cancer screening would be hugely beneficial to radiology and our patients. Most people are confused about the recommendations for their cancer screening so who better to provide accurate information than the experts themselves?
Why would we stop there? The media is an excellent place to highlight some of radiology’s lesser-known services such as pain management, weight loss, high-risk screening, and radiation safety. Sure, you can spend a fortune on a publicist or a media relations specialist. But here is the best kept secret — as a radiologist you already have support, you just have to know where to find it.
Consider reaching out to your colleges and subspecialty groups such as the ACR, the Society of Breast Imaging, and the Society of Interventional Radiology — they all have media relations programs that can not only point you in the right direction but may be able to get you in front of the camera to discuss a pertinent topic. Although I hate to admit it, most of the time it’s all about who you know. Go through your mental rolodex and think of anyone you know who may have contacts at television, radio, or online and print media outlets. When it comes to working with the media, rejection is inevitable and will occur repeatedly, but the only way to have a chance at success is to say yes to anything that may come your way and making yourself available.
Before you are “camera-ready,” you need to put yourself out there. Get active on social media! While it can be cumbersome to make time to be online, remember that if you aren’t in the social media space, people can’t see you. Even if a contact can pull some strings, you will need an online presence so people can search for you. You want to make it as easy as possible to be contacted so being available on social media or having a personal website will go a long way.
Once you have landed your interview, you need to prepare for it. Be mindful of the triad of stakeholders who will be watching you — the public, your employer, and colleagues. Conduct an internet search of your topic to see what the public finds interesting. You also want to make sure you’re not in conflict with your institution or practice. Find out what your hospital’s or practice’s policies are regarding participating in media interviews. Finally, make sure you’ve done a brief scientific search so you have your facts straight. It’s true that when you’re on television, it is more about pomp and circumstance than anything else. But in the end, you are still a professional in the medical community, so don’t say anything that can be misconstrued as grossly inaccurate. If you want to be called back, you need to be comfortable speaking on topics outside of your comfort zone.
Make sure you start off small because it is hard to jump right in. Start by writing a couple of op-ed pieces and getting them placed. Work on promoting your pieces and yourself. Sign up for any public speaking events that you can. Not only is this good speaking practice but it also gets your name and face in front of the public. Many times, local media outlets will be there to cover the event so you have an easy opportunity to make connections. When you are asked to appear on television, remember you’re not giving a speech or a monologue — it is a conversation with the anchor. Your time is very limited so stick with your speaking points and make sure you get through them. If you need to redirect the anchor then do so — you don’t want the segment to end without saying what you intended to say.
I would be remiss if I told you that you will never get negative feedback. It won’t matter what you say or do — there are always people who will want to criticize you. If you are confident in yourself and the material you present, then it will be white noise and easily ignored. If you aren’t willing to look stupid, nothing great is ever going to happen to you!
Nicole B. Saphier, MD, is director of breast imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering Monmouth Regional.