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In Review

Frontline deputy editor Ian McMillan reviews 'Handling the Media'.

Featured book

Handling the Media: Communication and presentation skills for healthcare professionals, John Illman - ISBN: 978099351780

Journalist and trainer John Illman covers a lot of ground in the 12 chapters of this 184-page book. As someone with 30 years' experience as writer specialising in the healthcare field, he is able to weave in plenty of real-life anecdotes to bolster his advice on getting your message across in the media.

My experience of working in the communications field is limited mainly to the writing side, and I enjoyed finding out more about how the broadcast media works. If, for example, you would like to become the go-to person for a particular condition or aspect of physiotherapy practice, you will find plenty of food for thought in this publication. Illman has been a health correspondent for both the Daily Mail and the Guardian and, while the two papers may have strongly contrasting readerships and political outlooks, the nuts and bolts of what makes interesting and lively 'copy' differs little. For example, Illman recommends never using a long word if a short one will do, using active rather than passive verbs, and removing any word from your submission that can be cut.

His style is upbeat and encouraging but resolutely realistic throughout. For example, you might get no feedback at all from an editor if your article is rejected, but adding an eye-catching photo or graphic to your written piece might just sway an editor's verdict. Of course, in the 'old days', you had to navigate your way through various gatekeepers or editors before your work could be shared with the outside world. Today, it's relatively easy to sidestep such filters by starting your own blog, and Illman devotes a chapter to using social media, such as blogs and tweets, as a way to voice your concerns and opinions.

In my experience, many would-be writers who earn their living in the healthcare field are put off because they find the idea of writing too daunting. My advice would be to start in modest ways by, for example, writing something short for your trust newsletter, or by sending Frontline a punchy letter on something you feel passionate about. In fact, I am always on the lookout for letters (sent by email these days rather than post) for the Comment pages.

If you want advice on how to find inspiration and avoid writing cul-de-sacs, this book will undoubtedly help.

Ian McMillan, deputy editor, Frontline

Also featured

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The authors explain why people with dementia should be included in decisions about their care.

Assessing and Communicating the Spiritual Needs of Children in Hospital: a new guide for healthcare professionals and chaplains
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This book outlines an assessment tool.

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain
This project aims to shed light on the veracity of the age-old theory that changes in the weather are linked to people's perception on pain. Researchers are seeking participants with musculoskeletal or other types of chronic pain who are willing to track their symptoms using a smartphone app. The study is funded by Arthritis Research UK.
cloudywithachanceofpain.com

Working with the Trauma of Rape and Sexual Violence: A guide for professionals
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This book offers the skills, knowledge and insight to help people who have been subjected to rape or other forms of sexual violence.

Sea Hero Quest
This pioneering mobile game offers players a chance to help scientists discover more about dementia. The game has been played by almost 2.5 million people, making 'Sea Hero Quest' the largest dementia study in history. The game anonymously records players' sense of direction and navigational ability as they work through the different levels. Early findings suggest that people's sense of direction declines in a consistent way from the early 20s.
www.seaheroquest.com/en

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Article Information

Issue date

4 January 2017

Volume number

23

Issue number

01

Tagged as

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