Identifying Media Friendly Patients
Michelle DeJong & Madison Miller
Connecting Patients with News Outlets
These two women are incredible examples of how sharing a personal battle with cancer can raise awareness and hundreds of thousands of dollars for research. Moffitt Cancer Center is privileged to learn so many people’s inspiring stories. Moffitt should harness resources at local news stations to share these stories.
Patient Related Fundraising
Every day, news viewers are inspired to send money to causes after a person’s story is shared on air. Patients at Moffitt can help raise money for research and events by being interviewed BEFORE an event.
Moffitt Cancer Center is located in the 11th largest television market in the country.
The Tampa Bay area is Florida’s largest TV market. More than a dozen local TV news stations need to fill their airtime with content. Moffitt is not currently taking full advantage of this incredible resource to reach patients, and future patients for free.
Internal vs. External Marketing
Moffitt does a great job of communicating to employees about what’s happening at the company. But many emails never get sent outside of Moffitt. Moffitt will get a much larger return on its investment when emails are shared with media outlets who in turn communicate Moffitt’s message to the masses.
Currently, when an email is sent to the media, it is often too late and too wordy. This is also the case with videos posted on Moffitt’s YouTube channel.
Examples of how Moffitt videos can be showcased on air:
I found this touching video about Madison Miller on Moffitt’s YouTube channel, but it would have been great if Moffitt sent this video to all news stations with permission to air it.
Relying solely on YouTube push notifications is detrimental when there are fewer subscribers on Moffitt’s YouTube channel than there are employees at the company.
The Community of Courage campaign is a great concept, but it would be even more powerful if it were shared with the community, not just on Moffitt’s YouTube channel. I found this video and requested permission to air it on WFLA. I also set up the interviews. Moffitt should send out emails with their doctors who are willing to do interviews, so producers aren’t chasing them.
When someone like Michelle DeJong passes away, it’s an opportunity to share their legacy and educate people about Moffitt. Moffitt should help set these interviews up and engage with news stations to recognize members of the community who had an impact on cancer awareness and fundraising.
Help the Media Help Our Community
Does Moffitt know patients who could use some help paying for bills, or taking care of their homes? Telling their stories on air and online inspires the community to donate their money and time. News producers and reporters would love to feature patient stories, then follow up as the community rallies around them.
Moffitt hosts so many visual events. Tell people about them. For example, every news producer would have aired a story about the 2016 Krewe of Sant’ Yago Knights annual Knights With a Heart Program on February 15th. Why did this not get sent out in an email prior to the event? And why was there no email sent during and immediately after the event with photos and videos?
Big events like Miles for Moffitt should be showcased for months leading up to the event. There are so many angles and stories to tell, Moffitt just needs to make it easier to tell them.
Stories to promote Miles for Moffitt:
- Training guidelines for new runners
- Running technique to prevent injuries
- Featuring patients and family who plan on running (with photos from their past runs and why it’s important to them personally)
- Using the Miles for Moffitt event as a way to lose weight (how many calories can people burn for every mile they run)
- Finding the most beautiful running routes in the Tampa Bay area
Moffitt needs to include a media friendly logo on their website because it is currently on a white background, and no news outlet will put a white background in a monitor.
Awareness Days, Weeks & Months
For every health related day, week or month, Moffitt should send some type of story to news stations. You’re guaranteed coverage because every producer puts a story in their show related to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Movember, American Heart Month, etc.
In the month of October I only received two emails from Moffitt Cancer Center at my WFLA email address. One was about a melanoma drug getting FDA approval. The other was about researchers looking for bilingual smokers for a Moffitt study. I received no emails about breast cancer even though it was Breast Cancer Awareness month. Moffitt should have flooded producer inboxes with information about breast cancer, several survivor stories with pictures, videos, and scripts. Moffitt should offer to help get doctors and cancer patients on air for interviews.
Moffitt had two very similar Twitter handles @MoffittNews and @MoffittResearch these should either serve a separate purpose and target different audiences or be combined to strengthen the followers and be more efficient.
Continuity between research and clinic messaging.
There are some great Facebook posts that never make it to Twitter. Journalists are looking for stories on Twitter, so stories should be posted in both place.
Moffitt creates beautiful videos like Madison Miller’s feature and the courage campaign. I personally had to reach out to Moffitt to get permission to air a video that I only noticed because I subscribe to the Moffitt YouTube page. Every time a video is posted to Moffitt’s YouTube page, an email should immediately go out to every news outlet with permission to air and scripts. It’s free airtime packaged as content so viewers are more likely to pay attention than if you only buy ad space during commercial breaks.
The courage campaign never made it to my email at WFLA. I only heard about it through my personal contacts at Moffitt. All of the english language videos were posted to YouTube at once so I only received one push notification to my phone. The spanish language videos were spaced out so I received one push notification for each video. Therefore the spanish language videos had a far greater impact. You should send out notifications for each english video to maximize on each one, instead of hoping to catch subscribers just once.
When I go to the Moffitt YouTube page, I don’t see a courage campaign playlist. This should be at the very top. The english language courage videos were pushed out of the main media window by the spanish videos. I have to click on the video tab to find the courage videos. Every time you force a viewer to click, you lose an opportunity to reach them.
You should burn a moffitt watermark into the top right or top left corner of your videos because some stations only include courtesy in their lower thirds that do not air the entire time. This also makes it easier for other media outlets to post your videos on their website.
Stop burying the lead. In most press releases or internal emails, I see long narratives before anyone gets to the point. Help readers promote Moffitt by catering to their short attention spans.
News stations are always looking to expose injustice and celebrate people working to improve the community. Moffitt should showcase what they’re doing to the public, not just one another. For example, the Health Disparities Summit held on February 5, 2016 seemed like it would have produced incredible insight or data that the community should know. Moffitt should send emails leading up to, and after events with a logo of the event on a monitor friendly jpeg, infographics, and interviews.
- Every email should have more than three pieces of media attached because no producer wants to write a reader. Emails should include:
- graphic for the monitor
- b-roll for teases, promos and VO’s
- infographics to explain how numbers affect people
- contact info for a real person to interview (not a just PR person)
- a short bio of the real person and several pictures of them with their families
- The media should be broadcast resolution. Small attachments waste producers’ time and will likely frustrate a producer, causing them to delete the email.
- Monitor friendly logos are graphics that are not on white backgrounds. The logo is clear, easy to understand, with few words. The logo should be horizontal 16:9, not a vertical poster.
- When the CDC puts out a report on HPV vaccines, for example, Moffitt should email news stations with that information. But Moffitt should also use it as an opportunity to remind viewers about the HPV vaccine study going on at Moffitt right now. Moffitt should include information about who to contact to join a research study, and how much money viewers can get if they take part in these studies. Moffitt should also offer up people who are available for interviews.
How to Get More Air Time:
- Post videos of events and news related stories faster.
- Use more conversational writing in press releases so re-writing for broadcast is less time consuming.
- Horizontal flyers for broadcast to make events and information easier to promote.
- High resolution photos and logos attached to emails.
- More emails about research studies so we can help recruit patients.
Examples of Missed Opportunities:
On February 24, 2016 I tweeted to Moffitt after Pennsylvania’s governor announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This was the perfect opportunity for Moffitt to email news stations with a prostate cancer patient and doctor available for interviews. Instead, I aired the story with the resources I had readily available and Moffitt was not included.
Then on February 24 at 5:45 p.m. an internal Moffitt email recognized a doctor for his work on prostate cancer. This should have been emailed out early in the day in reference to the governor’s diagnoses:
Dr. Kosj Yamoah’s Research Highlighted on CDMRP Website
Dr. Yamoah’s research funded by the US Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) is highlighted on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) website.
In an article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in September 2015, Dr. Yamoah and his colleagues sought to determine the significance of biomarkers of aggressive prostate cancer in African American men compared to European American men. Dr. Yamoah identified a set of six prostate cancer biomarkers that show differences in the biology and pathogenesis of the disease between the two groups. Furthermore, he found that African American men have a distinctly different type of prostate cancer than their European American counterparts. Specifically, he determined that African American men had a significantly greater proportion of triple-negative disease, lacking expression of three biomarker genes often found in European American patients. These novel biomarker signatures may help clinicians identify aggressive versus indolent prostate cancer in African American men to help guide treatment options.
Congratulations, Dr. Yamoah!
Missed Opportunity With This Press Release:
For more information, contact:
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Dr. Said Sebti Receives National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award
The $6.4 million grant will fund much needed research on novel drug therapies for KRas-mutated cancers.
TAMPA, Fla. (March 1, 2016) – Said M. Sebti, Ph.D., chair of the Drug Discovery Department and co-leader of the Chemical Biology and Molecular Medicine Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, has been awarded an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The prestigious award, which provides grant funding over a seven year term, is given to well-established cancer researchers with proven track records to encourage long-term projects of unusual potential in cancer research. Dr. Sebti’s award totals $6,415,284 million.
Dr. Sebti will use the funds to further his research on novel drug therapies for KRas-mutated cancers. The proposed research is highly significant, is of high priority, and has long-term relevance to NCI’s mission. With mt KRas significantly contributing to human oncogenesis and patient tumor resistance to therapy, and no anticancer drugs targeting mt KRas yet available in clinic, the NCI identified targeting Ras as a high priority and has implemented a major initiative with the ultimate goal of discovering therapies that specifically target patients whose tumors harbor mt Ras. This Outstanding Investigator Award will engage in research that tackles this challenging problem on many fronts.
“I am extremely humbled by this great honor and award from the NCI that will allow us to generate significant advances in overcoming the challenges that mt KRas poses, ultimately leading to therapies that specifically target patients whose tumors harbor mt KRas,”explained Sebti.
Dr. Sebti has been at Moffitt since 1996 and has authored more than 290 journal articles on various areas of cancer research. Recently, he has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Inventors and was recognized by Nature publishing as one of top 20 translational researchers.
- What is this about?
- If I’m a producer or a viewer, why do I care?
- What is KRas mutated cancer?
The wording is so inside baseball that people ignore it because they don’t connect with it. The only people familiar with KRas-mutated cancers, are the people who already have it. You’re preaching to the choir, when you should be educating people who don’t already know what this is.
Press releases MUST lead with impact. Who does this impact?
Also, there was no picture of Dr. Sebti attached to the email so what video would producers use to air this story? When you click on the hyperlink in his name, it leads you to a web page with a picture that is so small, no one will air it.
Missed Opportunities With Videos
Moffitt shoots and edits packages that should air on news stations. But Moffitt does not send out clean versions for air. For example, this story is great for web, but in order for it to air on TV Moffitt needs to remove the graphics like opens, closes, and lower thirds. It also needs to remove the music because it sounds like a web pkg instead of a news story.
Also, this was posted on March 8th. The event was March 7th, so by March 8th it’s old news. If the turnaround is going to be so slow, Moffitt should send this video with what’s new, now or next in the lead line. Instead of only telling people what happened, tell people what’s next. Moffitt should write things like: The nation’s most powerful leaders in cancer research are optimistic following a huge meeting in Tampa.
In regards to the Cancer Research Policy Forum, Lisa Chillura did a great job of reaching out to me personally. She set up an interview with one of the panelists to preview the event. However, this could have received more airtime at all local stations if the press release were sent out immediately following the event with specific details and numbers off the top. For example, if you are a producer with a 10-second attention span, how much actual newsworthy content could you get from this press release at a glance:
Congressional Representatives and National Cancer Institute Acting Director Speak at Cancer Research Policy Forum Hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center and the American Association for Cancer Research
TAMPA, Fla. (March 8, 2016) – Several of the nation’s top leaders and advocates for cancer research converged in Tampa, Fla. on Monday for a forum hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The 90-minute “Cancer Research Policy Forum: Progress, Promise, and Challenges in the Era of Precision Medicine” highlighted how federally funded research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is contributing to the cancer research advances happening at Moffitt and other institutions across the country. Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., acting director of the NCI was joined by members of the United States House of Representatives Gus Bilirakis and Kathy Castor on an expert panel of speakers who discussed the progress being made in cancer research and treatment and the importance of advocating at the federal and local levels. Panelists were united in their calls for robust, sustained, and predictable increases in funding for the NIH.
Reps. Bilirakis and Castor, both of whom serve on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, have been outspoken advocates in Congress for medical research funding. Both members worked to include a supplemental, mandatory funding stream for the NIH in the 21st Century Cures legislation that passed the House last summer, and which is currently being debated in the United States Senate. They also supported a $2 billion increase for the NIH in last year’s appropriations bill. In their remarks, both Bilirakis and Castor emphasized the need for Congress to continue to make medical research funding a national priority.
Dr. Lowy highlighted the progress that has been made both in terms of a decrease in cancer mortality rates and an increase in our ability to prevent cancer through screening and prevention. He provided an update on new programs, including Vice President Biden’s national cancer initiative and the Precision Medicine Initiative that, with continued federal investment, have significant potential to increase the pace of progress against cancer.
“There has always been a tremendous need for funding for cancer research, but now there are tremendous opportunities to make progress that could benefit patients more quickly,” said Dr. Lowy while speaking at the forum.
“It’s an incredibly promising time for cancer research. There have been numerous advances in precision medicine, including immunotherapies for melanoma and lung cancers. We are also seeing signs of hope from our leaders in Washington, D.C., first with the Precision Medicine Initiative and now the ‘moonshot’ initiative to be led by Vice President Joe Biden,” said Moffitt Center Director Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, MPH.
Support for early career scientists, the importance of collecting and sharing molecular and clinical data and the need for increased investment in cancer prevention were additional topics of discussion that arose during the open forum with the audience, who filled the Moffitt Couch Auditorium to capacity.
William Dalton, Ph.D., M.D. added that the complexity of cancer requires a multidisciplinary, “all hands on deck” approach. Dr. Dalton, who is the chair of the AACR Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee, also highlighted the work that the AACR has done to advocate for medical research funding, saying that, “without funding for the NIH and NCI, there will be no ‘next generation’ of researchers.”
“This particular event at the Moffitt Cancer Center underscores the importance of organizing such events all across the country to advocate for robust, sustained, and predictable annual budget increases for the NIH and NCI, especially when considering that more than 80 percent of all funding allocated to the NIH and NCI each year is competitively awarded to thousands of laboratory researchers and physician scientists in all 50 states,” said Jon Retzlaff, MBA, MPA, managing director of the AACR Office of Science Policy & Government Affairs. “It was also a wonderful opportunity for the local Members of Congress to interact with their constituents at the Moffitt Cancer Center and hear firsthand about the exceptional opportunities that exist today to translate our scientific knowledge and understanding into new ways to improve the prognosis and extend the lives of cancer patients.”
Jacqueline Smith, a 15-year survivor of Stage III melanoma, shared her experience as a patient who had the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial at Moffitt. As someone who has turned her personal journey with cancer into a lifelong mission to advocate for patients and survivors, she encouraged audience members to speak up and urge elected officials to continue investing in medical research through the NIH.
If I were to re-write this, I would lead with the exact details about Vice President Joe Biden’s role.
- Don’t bury the lead.
- Use short sentences.
- Producers want numbers and impact in the first ten seconds or the press release goes in the trash.
- Important words should be in bold.
- This should be written using a chunking and list style to make it easier to skim.
So that you get a better understanding of how this material is presented in the news, here is a script that I aired to help promote cancer research:
Where Your Competitors Are Winning
Here is an example of how Florida Hospital used a common occurrence to go viral nationwide. This is an email I received from Florida Hospital with convenient broll and concise information
From: Cutler, Kirsten <Kirsten.Cutler@flhosp.org>
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2016 3:12 PM
To: Abrahamsen, Jeanette O.
Cc: Harrison, David (Marketing); Pavuk-Gentry, Amy
Subject: Lung Transplant Nae Nae
Below are links to broll & sound you can download for broadcast use, and also the YouTube video.
If you have any questions or experience any issues, please contact David Harrison, whom I have CCd on this message. Thanks!
To download BROLL & Sound, click the following link: http://we.tl/pouc8Awkw4
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/1IjYsYT6KmQ
Good Moffitt Example
The Spring Swing press release is helpful for the media because:
- There is a link to b-roll
- There are several sound bites to choose from and lower thirds with names and titles
- It’s concisely written and clearly formatted
It could be improved by:
- Clearly labeling the b-roll and giving written permission to air so news organizations don’t have to email a request.
- If the Spring Swing logo was on a horizontal high resolution attachment for our broadcast monitors and web media windows.
- If the date in the headline were specific to the viewing area. For example, most Tampa Bay stations will only air the story about the event on March 26th because the other locations are generally too far away for our viewers.
Here’s how we previewed the event on WFLA: