Staff, volunteers spread the word about hot topics in orthopaedics
Getting the media—as well as the public—buzzing about orthopaedic topics is a year-round task that becomes especially intense during the Annual Meeting. The 2009 Annual Meeting, as in previous years, received an impressive amount of coverage from reporters and other members of the media. The journalists flocked to the AAOS press room, where they received assistance from Sandra Gordon, director of public relations, and her staff— Addy Kujawa, Catherine Dolf, Lauren Pearson, and Kayee Dooley.
The Annual Meeting also featured media briefings with orthopaedic experts, complimentary media training workshops for AAOS members, the highly publicized construction of a safe, accessible playground, and the new AAOS public service announcements (PSAs).
A beehive of activity
Every year, stories appear in outlets such as Reuters Health, the Associated Press, The New York Times, and USA Today generated by media representatives who use the AAOS press room as their “home base” during the Annual Meeting. Press releases on clinical and nonclinical topics help generate interest in orthopaedics.
“Highlights and Hot Topics” from the Annual Meeting was a new feature in the AAOS Press Kit this year. These short summaries of studies presented at the AAOS Annual Meeting and on Specialty Day included a link to the study abstract.
Academy staff members did a superb job of accommodating the journalists in Las Vegas by arranging interviews and suggesting story ideas. They also provided reporters with resource materials and a quiet place to work.
Media briefings draw a crowd
Nearly 30 orthopaedists and other physicians served as panelists at seven media briefings during the Annual Meeting. Among the topics covered were obesity and musculoskeletal conditions, anterior cruciate ligament injuries, deep vein thrombosis and prophylaxis, pediatric surgical emergencies, and osteoporosis. More than 70 reporters from outlets such as the Associated Press and a new Web site (www.empowher.com), which covers women’s health issues, attended the briefings.
The media briefing on osteoporosis had the highest attendance. Moderator Kimberly J. Templeton, MD, along with Francesco Pegreffi, MD; Leonid Kandel, MD; and T. Ted Funahashi, MD, discussed different ways to combat osteoporosis.
“Having such a diverse, international panel showed that no matter where you live or who you are, osteoporosis is a huge problem that needs to be addressed,” said Ms. Dolf.
This year, the media briefings were videotaped for the first time and can be viewed in the online press kit at www.aaos-annualmeeting-presskit.org
Media training workshops
One hundred Academy members attended four half-day media training workshops to learn how to deliver key messages to representatives from newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet. They also received an introduction to using social media to communicate with a broad audience.
“Each member chose a topic he or she wanted to discuss and then learned how to develop key messages that are easily understandable and demonstrate expertise on the subject,” explained Ms. Dolf. Many participants found it helpful to be recorded on videocamera so they could view how their message might translate to an audience.
PSAs got our “joints jumping”
As important as it is for the AAOS to maintain excellent relationships with the media, it’s also critical to communicate directly with the public. The 2009 television PSA, “Joints don’t jump,” is a lighthearted look at a serious issue—joint pain that affects the quality of life for millions nationwide. The animated PSA points patients to the Academy’s patient education Web site, Your Orthopaedic Connection (www.orthoinfo); if you haven’t seen it, check it out on the AAOS Web site (www.aaos.org). Click on “Public Service Announcements” in the left navigation column.
The 2009 PSA campaign also includes a radio spot, promotional postcards, and posters. In addition, the AAOS worked with other organizations—including the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society, the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society, the Scoliosis Research Society, the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association—on ads that address diversity in orthopaedics, scoliosis, and sports injuries among women.
Playground build in the news
On the day before the Annual Meeting, nearly 500 volunteers took part in the Academy’s 10-year tradition of building a safe, wheel-chair accessible playground. All four local Las Vegas televisions stations—CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX—covered the event, as did approximately 65 Web sites with an audience of more than three million people.
The playground build was a success thanks to the hard work of many people—including public relations staff members and the members of the Nevada Orthopaedic Scoiety, in particular Fred C. Redfern, MD.
The key ingredient: help from volunteers
Of course, staff members can’t do all of this alone. AAOS volunteers review press releases before they are issued to the media, serve as spokespeople, provide expertise at media briefings, speak with reporters who need more information for a story, and often suggest interesting orthopaedic topics to pitch to the media.
“We really depend on the volunteers,” emphasizes Ms. Dolf. “They’re everything to our department. I have never worked with a more intelligent and more giving group of people than the orthopaedic surgeons at the Academy.”
Frank B. Kelly, MD, is chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet. He can be reached at email@example.com
Tip of the Bone
You, too, can participate in the Academy’s media and public relations efforts; simply contact the AAOS public relations department at (847) 384-4036 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also receive complimentary copies of the new public service materials. Get posters for your office, use the postcards for appointment reminders, and play the radio spot on your telephone so that patients can hear it while they are on hold.
Finally, be sure to visit www.aaos.org and click on “Public Relations” to find press releases, a media training manual, orthopaedic statistics, and a wealth of other resources that can help you interact effectively with members of the media.