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Media Tips and Points for Lung Cancer Advocates

This is a pivotal time for lung cancer advocacy. The statistics -- though far from acceptable -- are finally moving in our favor. The American Cancer Society’s annual Facts and Figures 2020 Report was released recently. That report created quite a media buzz...for a day. Several advocates were poised and ready when the media came knocking. They did an outstanding job!

It made me realize how important it is for all of us, as the lung cancer advocacy community, to be ready to seize a media opportunity or create one that otherwise would not be available.

It's time to use to media for our advantage

Our stories are heartwarming, heartbreaking, shocking, inspiring, and newsworthy in every sense. But, as they say, timing is everything. That saying is never truer than when working with the media.

The media can make the difference between enlightening one person or potentially enlightening millions of people. So, it is in our best interest to understand the basics of working with the media.

Prior to my lung cancer diagnosis, I was a journalist for about 10 years. Then I started doing media relations for a university and large business law firm. I recently shared some media relations tips with members of the Lung Cancer Action Network (LungCAN) and thought the broader lung cancer advocacy community might also benefit from these tips.

Media training tips

  • Be familiar with the facts. Refresh yourself with updated lung cancer facts from a reliable source. Don’t simply parrot relevant facts but illustrate the relevance of a fact as it relates to your own story.
  • Remember our shared cause. Your goal is to raise lung cancer awareness through grassroots media relations. Harnessing your passion will help reach others and empower them with a message of hope.
  • Target your local media with your story and respond to media inquiries when breaking news impacts the lung cancer community. You are part of a growing network of lung cancer advocates becoming equipped to initiate media coverage on lung cancer issues, as well as respond to outside media inquiries in a timely and effective manner.
  • Media Relations may involve any type of media outlet, including TV, Newspaper, Letter to Editor/Op-Ed, Features/Human Interest, Breaking News, Magazines, Local vs. National and Radio.
  • First and foremost, focus on sharing your personal story in a compelling, concise and powerful way that exemplifies your personal journey as well as the current event issue in the news.
  • In addition to working with and developing relationships with local media representatives, advocates may also be called to action, as appropriate. For example, if lung cancer research funding is being threatened, or a well-known public figure has been diagnosed with lung cancer, respond timely to any call to action for engaged advocates.

Stay grounded and present

Prior to any interview, be sure to take a few moments to simply compose yourself. Stop. Take a deep breath. Review your bulleted notes.

For example, if a reporter calls you on the phone and wants to talk to you right then, make an excuse to have him/her call you back in 10 minutes. You need those few minutes to gather composure and focus on your talking points.

Read the continuation of Dusty's media tips in Media Tips and Points for Lung Cancer Advocates (Part 2).

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