Discussions

Need advice on creating a media plan for COVID-19

Posted by Angela Pittenger @angelapittenger, Mon, Mar 2 10:29am

Hi all!
I'm new in the medical communications world, and my boss has asked me to create a media plan on COVID-19 with talking points, etc. I haven't done this before, so thought I'd ask you all for advice. Have you created a media plan for this for when there are cases in your community? If so, what did it entail? What should a media plan include? Thanks!

Liked by Shigeo Uehara

Hello Angela,
I think the first thing to do is identify who your expert will be if media contacts you. We have been in contact with our Medical Director of Infectious Diseases. I would schedule a meeting with this person as soon as possible and get his or her phone number. Today, we published an article on Coronavirus. I work at a children's hospital. I spoke to two pediatricians, our medical director of Infectious Disease and the medical director of Emergency Services. Our AVP over media has been working to schedule a meeting with Tarrant County Public Health. They have also been incredibly supportive in providing us information. Right now, we are speaking to them to discuss if a case occurs in our area, who will take the lead as far as giving out information to the media, keeping compliant with HIPAA and things like where the press conference would take place. Our thought process right now (and this is rare for us) is to let the County take the lead. When we published the story this morning, the first thing our media director asked was if media calls who is going to do the interview today. Since this story is pediatric focused, and thank goodness it's not about an actual patient, we have a pediatrician designated and our Medical Director of Infectious Disease is ready. So, right now I would: go meet your doctors, go to the CDC, the WHO, Mayo …. and read as much as you can about the Coronavirus. Then start mapping out what stories you want to tell right now. Where is your place in this story? For us, at least right now, it's that we have some relatively good news to share about kids and this disease.

Yesterday, I spoke to a mom, who is expecting her second child, and asked her to give me every question she has about the coronavirus right now. We answered every one of them in our post today.

Does this help?

REPLY

Jeff gave some great advice. The only thing I would add is how you are managing the communication through your digital properties. Here's what I would do:

First: most importantly, create a brief update on your newsroom/blog, etc. Since communications related to virus might evolve, it's importnat to establish a single source of content that can be updated regularly (a good resource for media as well as the general public).

As the inquiries begin to rise, you can link to that page from your website, social media, etc., establishing it as the credible source of updated information about coronavirus and your health system. If someone contacts you, you can direct them to the update page and also indicate that’s where you will be updating relevant information as it evolves (this should be aligned, BTW, with your crisis communications plans). FYI – you can also link to your local government's information pages, as well as CDC and WHO.

Not sure if that helps, or is any insightful news. I've found developing a single-source of truth for any evolving health crisis evolves becomes much easier – well in advance for it rising to a panic.

REPLY

This group is a fabulous resource!

REPLY

For most healthcare orgs in the US, the CDC should be the principal link and source of information. Their general page is:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

And the best national situation page is:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

For a good website flow example take a look at my old org, The Everett Clinic. It's located just north of Seattle in the counties with the first case, and the cluster of recent deaths:

https://everettclinic.com

The hardest part will be what is the specific advice for your specific patient population, and the current tricky questions are "What do I do if I have flu-like symptoms?" – stay at home? Call Come in to get checked for influenza? Get checked for CoVid?…, what about my family?

The answers to these questions, because the process is so fluid need to be directed from your medical director with input from their ID expert. The advice will likely vary from org to org.

REPLY

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice. This is really helpful.

REPLY
@JeffCalaway

Hello Angela,
I think the first thing to do is identify who your expert will be if media contacts you. We have been in contact with our Medical Director of Infectious Diseases. I would schedule a meeting with this person as soon as possible and get his or her phone number. Today, we published an article on Coronavirus. I work at a children's hospital. I spoke to two pediatricians, our medical director of Infectious Disease and the medical director of Emergency Services. Our AVP over media has been working to schedule a meeting with Tarrant County Public Health. They have also been incredibly supportive in providing us information. Right now, we are speaking to them to discuss if a case occurs in our area, who will take the lead as far as giving out information to the media, keeping compliant with HIPAA and things like where the press conference would take place. Our thought process right now (and this is rare for us) is to let the County take the lead. When we published the story this morning, the first thing our media director asked was if media calls who is going to do the interview today. Since this story is pediatric focused, and thank goodness it's not about an actual patient, we have a pediatrician designated and our Medical Director of Infectious Disease is ready. So, right now I would: go meet your doctors, go to the CDC, the WHO, Mayo …. and read as much as you can about the Coronavirus. Then start mapping out what stories you want to tell right now. Where is your place in this story? For us, at least right now, it's that we have some relatively good news to share about kids and this disease.

Yesterday, I spoke to a mom, who is expecting her second child, and asked her to give me every question she has about the coronavirus right now. We answered every one of them in our post today.

Does this help?

Jump to this post

THANK YOU! I love the idea of talking to people to get their questions.

REPLY

Reiterating some of the comments above: our process so far has been to keep messages streamlined and pointed to one main public source that is updated frequently. Our University webpage https://dps.utah.edu/coronavirus/ has local information and a hotline people can call with questions. The CDC is the primary source.

More specifically to my realm, our cancer center leadership sent an email to all employees to assure that measures are being taken and what individuals can do at work and at home. We also have this information on our internal website–with everything ultimately pointing to the one true source and we are limiting iterative messaging.

REPLY

Hi Jeff, great article and resources. Do you mind if I use the links to resources and some of the info? I will rewrite but this is super helpful. Thanks for sharing!

REPLY

The other thing I would add is to set expectations regarding updates, etc. EvergreenHealth, at the epicenter in Seattle, provides a daily update at 2pm PT that includes basic stats — number of diagnosed patients being treated at their hospitals, number of discharges, etc. Its an easy source for the media to get info without having to constantly ping the hospital's media team.

REPLY

Keep an eye out for long-hanging mitigation fruit too! For example, the CDC YouTube channel has a small video section devoted to CoVid https://www.youtube.com/user/CDCStreamingHealth , including a simple video on handwashing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d914EnpU4Fo).

My guess it what we do in the next three weeks will determine the next six months of nearly every healthcare organization in the US. For example, I am seeing several surgeons online recommend that all elective surgeries be canceled immediately. (Probably based on the potential lack of postoperative beds and the slim but possibility that OR suites will be needed as backup ICU beds).

Anyway, interesting times.

REPLY
@matthewrehrl

Keep an eye out for long-hanging mitigation fruit too! For example, the CDC YouTube channel has a small video section devoted to CoVid https://www.youtube.com/user/CDCStreamingHealth , including a simple video on handwashing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d914EnpU4Fo).

My guess it what we do in the next three weeks will determine the next six months of nearly every healthcare organization in the US. For example, I am seeing several surgeons online recommend that all elective surgeries be canceled immediately. (Probably based on the potential lack of postoperative beds and the slim but possibility that OR suites will be needed as backup ICU beds).

Anyway, interesting times.

Jump to this post

Hi Matt,
Great video resource from the CDC, thank you for posting!

REPLY

Yes, the CDC is probably the most trusted source. The practical difficulty, however, will for the individual organizations to tailor their recommendations to their specific clinic. For example, it’s likely the CDC guidance for testing is going to be fluid over the next several weeks, but how will this be applied to actually carried out at a patients specific clinic.

For example, at my own personal clinic, they will see you for CoVid symptoms if you call ahead, but 5hen if the determines you need testing, they will then subsequently send you to theEmergency Room.

Anyway, my general advice to the social media gatekeepers who are doing the actual posting about this is that the run their content first by their key CoVid 19 Medical Director/response team so no mixed messages are sent out (as I am sure most of you are already doing).

That being said, it’s highly unlikely your medical director folks are aware of all the ways this content can be distributed ( for example, the CDC handwashing video could be shared on Facebook, Twitter, possibly the homepage,…). That’s where you can help the most.

REPLY
@matthewrehrl

Keep an eye out for long-hanging mitigation fruit too! For example, the CDC YouTube channel has a small video section devoted to CoVid https://www.youtube.com/user/CDCStreamingHealth , including a simple video on handwashing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d914EnpU4Fo).

My guess it what we do in the next three weeks will determine the next six months of nearly every healthcare organization in the US. For example, I am seeing several surgeons online recommend that all elective surgeries be canceled immediately. (Probably based on the potential lack of postoperative beds and the slim but possibility that OR suites will be needed as backup ICU beds).

Anyway, interesting times.

Jump to this post

Parlo Italiano? Here's a fun hand hygiene video https://twitter.com/i/status/1240686550939136003

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.