Thursday, November 12, 2009

"We have an expert on that subject!"

Throughout the year the major media will visit health related subjects that have broad appeal to the public. They will also report on major calamities and news stories like the recent massacre at Fort Hood.

The media needs mental health experts when these events occur. Who do they call? The answer is whoever comes to mind. That could be you if you know what to do, and first step you should take is to believe that they want you instead of the same old warm body that calls them every time.

There is one national managed care organization that hogs the spotlight on these events. They have a well funded pubic relations arm and they consitently show up in the media, the New York Times, ann Washington Post. There is another large corporate EAP that does the same thing. I am amazed at their prowess, but they deserve the attention if no one else is seeking.

Hey, were talking about capitalizing on tragedy here. The Fort Hood massacre was beyond belief horrible, but the media will pursue experts to help the public cope with these events, and it might as well be you. This is especially important because the some organizations have completely misguided ideas about employees assistance programs and they don't have any resistance to sharing the view to match their economic pursuits, regardless of its grander impact on the profession.

You will notice that specific topics appear in the news periodically, but predictably. For example, you can predict that approximately once a year the topic of alcoholism will emerge. It might be a news event on the cause, a new drug to fight cravings, or some other related topic. Many other topics related social problems will emerge in the mass media.

Pay attention. You will see that this is the case. Your local television station is not the "major media" in our definition. We are referring to AP news wires, and other major media outlets that sell news to the major networks, principally ABC, CBS, and NBC. However, pay attention to enormously important local news, specifically news events that relate to a subject about which you are an expert.

Now, here is what you should do: Listen attentively to the news. When you hear news that relates to your field of expertise, immediately fax to the local television stations your biography (a half page) and call the news room to say that you are an expert on that subject, and that you are faxing a bio. This is a great way to get publicity and to get on TV or the radio. And, it will make you instantly visible to your potential clients and EAP customers. (It's also a rush.)

Television and news stations scramble to find experts on subjects when the news hits. You are doing them a big favor.

If it is national news, you will have a few hours to respond because it will take longer for local stations to run "local expert" interviews. And it could be day later. If it is local news, your window of opportunity is much shorter, about an hour. Obviously you need to prepare ahead of time by getting phone and fax numbers, and contacts lined up. Then, wait for the "big one"--well hopefully not THE big one, but you get the idea.

The scramble for an expert kicks into gear quickly. That's you. Be there.