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Patient Notification Toolkit

Section 2: Planning Media and Communication Strategies

Conducting a Successful Press Conference or Media Opportunity

The following resources will help guide media and communication strategies. Note that some of these are intended for novice communications professionals.

An important question to consider during this crisis is “Is this the right way to release my information?” Choosing the best communication platform is critical to successful public health communications.

Determining the Level of Media Notification

There are several options for engaging the media. Decide what will work best to support your patient notification.

When a press conference may be warranted

Press conferences or telebriefings are usually held for large and longer notifications.  You may wish to use a press conference when you cannot contact affected persons through other means (e.g. regular mail, phone call).  Press conferences can be helpful when there is a lot of media interest is expected, providing a way to answer questions once for many reporters, ensuring they receive a consistent message. 
Press conferences can be difficult when there are multiple parties involved in the investigation with separate roles and responsibilities.  If you are planning a joint press conference, be sure that all parties agree upon the language in the talking points and there is a shared understanding of who will handle each topic during the question and answer session.
For patient notifications where the process is expected to take more than a week or two, consider releasing a digital press kit as well.  This was done during the 2012 outbreak of fungal meningitis, which lasted several months(http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/dpk-meningitis.html). 

Other options for alerting the media

Press releases or press statements are often used for smaller patient notifications. With this option, be prepared to follow-up with reporters individually to answer their questions. During smaller, local patient notifications, you may wish to contact a list of 3-5 key reporters in your area and do a targeted telebriefing.

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