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Promoting safe and nutritious food selection, preparation and storage practices.

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Nutrition Resource Centre

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Lights, Camera, Action - Take your Message to the Media!

Lights, Camera, Action - Take your Message to the Media!
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Sue Mah, RD, President, Nutrition Solutions Inc. Thank you for submitting!

When I first worked as a Public Health Nutritionist, it was a big accomplishment to get our name or story featured in the local newspaper or TV media. Health promotion and nutrition messages were typically shared through factsheets and community presentations. Fast forward a couple of decades. Today, as a media dietitian, I have witnessed first hand the positive impact of sharing educational information through the media.
My opinion is that media offers the incredible opportunity to reach an audience of potentially millions with “edu-taining” content – information that is educational and presented in an entertaining matter. Quite often however, health professionals shy away from working with the media because of an unfamiliarity of how the media works, tight timelines or perhaps nervousness of appearing in front of a camera. Keep in mind that news journalists are always looking for timely news. You can make their job easier by providing media savvy spokespeople who can deliver credible content.
National Nutrition Month presents a timely theme to engage with the media and share your messages about healthy eating and lifestyle changes. Like any public health program or strategy, media work requires planning and training. Here’s what you can do to get started.
Build a creative, newsworthy story angle. For Nutrition Month this year, you could promote the theme of the 100 Meal Journey by focusing on a few small, practical nutrition changes that will improve consumers’ overall health. Invite a media journalist to participate in your local Nutrition Month event. Or you could send a list of 31 healthy eating tips (one for each day in the month) to the health/lifestyle editor of a newspaper. Maybe get a few media celebrities to take the Nutrition Month 100 Meal Journey Pledge and check in with them later in the month.

Prepare your key messages. Key messages are the most important things that you would like to share with your audience. Use interesting statistics, sound bites or fascinating facts to support your key messages. Generally, aim for three to five key messages – the length of most interviews usually doesn’t allow for much more conversation than that.

Train your communicators. Your spokespeople should be credible experts on the topic. It’s a tremendous bonus if they are media trained to communicate the key messages clearly and concisely. Check with your agency’s communication department for in-house media training or contact me for media training information.

Pitch the story. Identify your target media outlets. Is there a local news station in your area? What about community newspapers? Think big too, and consider pitching your story to national media. Be forewarned that media books up quickly and you may need to start pitching 4-6 weeks in advance. In your pitch, answer the 5 Ws: Who is the expert spokesperson? What is the newsworthy topic? Why does this matter to the audience? When is the expert available for interviews? Where will the interview or event be held?

Foster good media relations. Once you’ve established yourself or your organization as a credible expert, the media will be more likely to contact you again in the future. Be ready and willing to help with reactive media interviews where you may be approached with very short notice to comment on a breaking news issue or raise awareness about a trending health issue.
Working with the media is admittedly hard work. It’s a fast paced environment with constant deadlines. Each and every interview requires a significant investment of time and thought. When you think of the potential audience reach though, the results are worth it!

Sue Mah, MHSc, RD is President of Nutrition Solutions and Co-Founder of Media Training Boot Camp. With roots in community nutrition and health promotion, Sue has a passion for nutrition education, training and communications. As one of Canada’s leading media dietitians, she has appeared in hundreds of media features across the country, including 12 national TV shows and CBC News Network. In her role as a nutrition consultant, writer and speaker, Sue inspires consumers and health professionals with her creative communications. Through her company Media Training Boot Camp, Sue also offers media training to health professionals.



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