By Dr. Francois Venter, President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, Clinical Director of the University of Witwatersrand’s Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit, South Africa
I cultivate relationships with reporters, and I usually have a good relationship with at least one journalist at each major paper, television station, and radio station. When I interact with them, I make sure they know I understand the media constraints. I do not provide long-winded comments, because I know they will not be easy to incorporate into an article. I make sure that the stories I suggest are actual stories, not just dry press releases or bragging about my fabulous project. If I put out a press statement, I am prepared to be phoned that same day and am ready to give off-the-cuff comments. I also make sure to provide context information to help the journalists add depth to their reporting. For me, making sure that I am familiar with the media constraints is key to being a trusted source. It is what keeps the journalists coming back to talk with me.