Published 8/1/2011
Lauren Pearson

Lights, camera, action

Television crews in the operating room and the office

Media relations can help raise awareness of the medical expertise of orthopaedic surgeons, establish you or your practice as a local source of expertise and information on the specialty, and increase patient and public knowledge of the range of procedures and treatments available.

Your institution or practice may be called upon to provide expert opinion to the media on various orthopaedic-related issues. A simple story about a celebrity undergoing orthopaedic surgery can prompt your local news station to interview you at your office. Having a television crew in your office can be an exciting experience, and a little preparation can make a big difference.

Recently, Communications Cabinet Chair Michael F. Schafer, MD, spoke with Letha Y. Griffin, MD, who has welcomed dozens of media representatives to her Georgia practice. Most recently, she hosted a camera crew and reporter from CNN for a piece on boomer sports injuries that aired in May 2011.

Dr. Schafer: What has been your experience with television media coming to your office?

Dr. Griffin: Before we schedule any media visits to the office, I talk with the reporter or the AAOS staff in the public and media relations department to make sure that I understand exactly the angle and agenda for the piece. I also want to know what the crew wants from me, what rooms they will be filming in, and what their lighting needs may be. This ensures that we are all on the same page from the beginning.

Dr. Schafer: What do you do to prepare for the interview?

Dr. Griffin: I usually write down two to three important points that I want to get across. I also like to have some statistics—facts or figures. The media likes to have simple, easy-to-understand numbers. Sometimes I will track down a prop or two, such as a model, a skeleton, or a large diagram, to help get my point across.

Dr. Schafer: You have a busy practice with other physicians, how do you ensure that interviews don’t disturb the office flow?

Dr. Griffin: I work with our office staff to select a day and block of time where the patient flow is not heavy or crowded. I try to arrange for the reporter and camera crew to conduct the interview in rooms designated for me, like my office or conference room. I try not to have them set up in a main patient area, like the reception room.

Dr. Schafer: What have you found to be the biggest challenge?

Dr. Griffin: The media will film a lot and use only a few seconds on air. They will use whatever gives them the most visually appealing story; being supportive of that is sometimes challenging. You have to understand that it may take more time to film than originally anticipated. Being able to accommodate any last-minute needs can also be a challenge.

Dr. Schafer: What do you enjoy about doing television interviews at your office?

Dr. Griffin: Media relations is fun, and not having to leave the office to go to a TV studio has its perks.

Dr. Schafer: The media is always asking for a patient to help illustrate the story. How do you select just one?

Dr. Griffin: Patients who are excited and animated are always a great choice. I talk to the patient in advance and provide some coaching about the reporter’s story and the points the reporter wants to emphasize. The more information the patient has about the stories’ agenda, the better prepared he or she can be. That comes across well during the interview.

Dr. Schafer: Do you have any other words of wisdom?

Dr. Griffin: Don’t expect the media to use everything you tell them; sound bites (short and concise phrases) are better. Take a few minutes before the camera crew arrives to read over your sound bites. Try not to ramble. Be courteous and ready. Often, I designate someone in my office to welcome the reporter and camera crew.

Help from AAOS
The Academy’s public relations department has a public and media relations manual, available to any member, filled with media relations tips and tricks. You can download the manual online at

Do you have media relations success stories or tips to share when it comes to doing interviews? The public relations department wants to hear from you! E-mail media@aaos.org to share your experience or tips, and we may include them in an upcoming article.

Lauren Pearson is manager, media relations, in the AAOS public relations department. She can be reached at pearson@aaos.org