In an effort to increase the diversity of voices sharing their expertise with the public, the Public Health Association of Australia has shared tips with members on how to advocate for public health-related topics through both social and traditional media.
During the webinar on 22 February, Dr Joanne Flavel, co-convenor of the PHAA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Special Interest Group (SIG), shared her recent first experience interacting with the media, particularly with ABC Radio.
Professor Jaya Dantas, convenor of PHAA’s International Health SIG, shares insights below on her extensive interactions with the media.
Professor Dantas has provided significant media commentary on many issues, especially during COVID-19, related to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations, gender, vaccine equity, ethnicity data and health inequality. An analysis of coverage delivered between October 2020 and 31 October 2022 showed a cumulative potential reach of 13.17 million people. Prof Dantas had 1,429 online mentions, undertook 143 radio interviews, 53 TV presentations, five magazine reports, and was featured in 25 newspaper reports.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I am currently Professor of International Health and Dean International in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University. I also have national roles that are voluntary. I am President of Australian Graduate Women, PHAA International Health SIG Convenor, and a member of Women in Global Health Australia, Committee.
Q: How far into your career did you begin interacting with the media?
A: I started doing media over a decade ago but used to only do a few online pieces and radio interviews each year. I did, however, also do international media. This changed during COVID and from mid-2020, my media uptake has increased significantly.
Q: Can you tell us more about how you’ve developed your exposure to media over the years?
A: I was media shy initially but grew more confident with experience and could do all media – I have done radio live and recorded, TV live and pre-recorded, contributed to online blogs, done magazine pieces, and Conversation pieces. I have also done international media.
Before the media presentation I always ask for some prompt questions on the issues they will explore. This helps me do some prep on the topic especially with stats, evidence, and any country-specific issues.
I enjoy the media experiences and have gained confidence over time.
Q: How do you think interacting with the media has helped you develop your career?
A: Interacting with the media has meant that I have increased my knowledge of particular topics. During COVID, I kept abreast of developments across the world. I also gained publicity and visibility and became known to journalists.
Q: What are some key tips you’d give someone who’s about to do their first media appearance?
- Select an area/topics that you can confidently speak about and are your areas of strength.
- Reach out to the media team if working at a university and learn how to do a quick pitch on a topic, using a sentence or two with a couple of questions.
- The media team will send it to media outlets and if the pitch is of interest it will get picked up and you will be contacted by media.
- Also try and pitch Conversation pieces if you can – these are usually 800 words however, you have to do a short 50-100 submission to see if it is accepted.
- Don’t hesitate to respond to media – you will learn and gain from the experience. Good luck!