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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Vibrio Vulnificus Health Education Kit - Getting the Word Out

March 2004

Getting the Word Out Through the Media and Community Outreach - Here's How

As a public health educator, you have an unique opportunity to reach both the media and community organizations. You are no doubt aware that today's working print and electronic journalists are busier than ever, as are you. Reporters are besieged by press releases and spot news that must be covered on an immediate basis. Everyone wants to get their message across in this age of information, but that job is getting tougher for you the public health educator.

For The Print Journalist - General Market

The health beat reporter today is deluged with press releases on everything from the latest in home health products to new prescription medications. Although the Internet and the World Wide Web are beginning to be used to break through that clutter you must be able to deliver a package of information that is clear, concise and most importantly, communicates the angle on why this story is important. To the extent possible, it is always helpful to provide local statistics such as percent of Hispanics living in your market, per capita Gulf oyster consumption and other information that helps "localize" the news. A useful website for information on oysters is the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference at www.issc.org.

The Spanish-Language Print Journalist

In many cases, the print journalist at a Spanish-language newspaper or magazine may not be a "health" reporter. You may need to contact the editor or a reporter that covers metro or lifestyle issues. The best way to make that determination is to read the publication or to place a call and ask who the right contact is. In some cases, the print outlets that you are targeting are bilingual and may even print information in both English and Spanish. The press kit materials that you have are ideally suited for that scenario.

For The Electronic Journalist

Network news affiliates and independent TV "health beat" reporters are always looking for strong visual stories about the world of health and medicine.

To build interest from this audience and promote the proactive, educational aspect of this campaign, you may want to have video B-roll shot from which you can build a localized message for your campaign. B-roll is a term used by the broadcast media for footage from which a story and narrative or voice-over is developed. The short video (2-3 minutes) can feature sound bytes with your local experts in Spanish and English to enable local television stations to produce news stories whether experts are available or not.

Press materials for the electronic journalist should include a news release, the fact sheet about Vibrio vulnificus and pre-produced B-Roll video footage, if your budget allows for this filming.

In the Event of Breaking News...

The materials in this kit are designed to meet the needs of a planned communications campaign. In the event of a breaking news event you may need to prepare a media statement specifically addressing the matter. In that case, the materials in this kit are ideally suited to provide additional background to your specific situation.

Hitting Your Target Audience Through Community Outreach

In addition, you may have many competing education programs vying for your time. But this time your job will be easier. That's because all the tools you need to get the message out regarding Vibrio vulnificus and safe oyster consumption are in this electronic health education kit.

The sample materials are designed to educate the media and the Hispanic community about Vibrio vulnificus and raw oyster consumption. You will need to localize the information for your particularly area. However, it will still be necessary to identify a bilingual spokesperson or expert in your community, as Hispanic media will want to interview someone in Spanish.

Spokespersons: The ideal spokesperson is a member of your local health department or a physician, as they will carry the greatest authority with the Hispanic market. Depending on the scope of the news, national versus local, it is strongly recommended that the spokesperson receive media training on key messages prior to the launch of a media tour to ensure that he or she stays on point with the education message and is knowledgeable about the key facts surrounding mortality and morbidity are accurate.