Distribute to Press

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Writing and distributing a news release to your press contacts is an easy way for your organization to participate in National Health IT Week. You can use the attached “Swiss cheese” release by filling in the blanks [in red type] to reflect your organization and your city/state.

You also may choose to draft your own NHIT Week release. One important note: be sure to include the name, email and phone number of a contact person from your organization at the top of the release (see the contact information in the Swiss cheese as an example).

If you choose to draft your own release, keep it to no more than one page and include quotes from leaders in your organization. Your release should be written so that if a newspaper or website picked it up as is, it reads like a news story.  We suggest the first paragraph contains information about who, what, where, why, and when of NHIT Week celebration, followed by supporting details and quotes from your organizations leaders.

After the release is drafted and approved, distribute it to journalists in your city, local region or state.  Your press list should include journalists who cover healthcare, IT, public policy or business. In some cases, the best contact will be a reporter or editor covering local business activity.

Journalists repeatedly say they prefer email contact to telephone, so send out your release as an email message. Cut and paste the release into the body of the email since most media outlets do not permit attachments. A very short paragraph (two or three lines) above the release tells the reporter why they should read the release.  You are also encouraged to send a copy of your release to info@healthitweek.org.

Write Your Opinion

Abbreviated from “opposite the editorial page,” an op-ed is a newspaper article that expresses a personal opinion on an issue from an interested party. Op-ed authors are unaffiliated with the newspaper staff. In fact, an op-ed can be written by anyone – from a respected authority to a concerned citizen.

Here are the steps to write and place an op-ed focused on NHIT Week:

Be familiar with the outlet’s op-ed style. Before you write your op-ed, check the media outlet’s op-ed style guide (usually posted on the website). Depending on the outlet, typically op-eds are about 700 to 800 words. Op-eds often include a local angle to make it relevant to the newspaper’s reader and on occasion, they include a call to action. Op-eds can be placed in newspaper and also in nontraditional outlets, for example national websites like HuffingtonPost.com or locally at newjersey.com (if you live in New Jersey).

Allow plenty of time to place the op-ed. Since you can only approach one outlet at a time awaiting their response on your exclusive op-ed before proceeding to the next outlet—and each may take a week or two to respond—you should allow four to eight weeks for placement.

·Determine the topic. An op-ed about National Health IT Week should discuss the benefits of health IT to the healthcare system and patient care, and include a local angle—how healthcare IT specifically benefits those in your city, state or region. Feel free to be creative and use local examples and other anecdotes to illustrate your points.  Tell a story about how health IT has made a difference. Some examples of NHIT Week topics might include:

o   Using a statistic or study, e.g. Frost & Sullivan research revealed that the EHR market was expected to increase from $1.3 billion in 2009, to $2.6 billion in 2012.  (Google for the latest statistics.)

o   Providing examples of patients who have been empowered by using health IT.

o   Standardizing technology so that EHRs are truly interoperable.

o   Addressing patient privacy and security using EHRs.

o   Adopting new laws and regulations to support the wider use of health IT.

o   Using EHRs to track disease outbreaks and public emergencies.

o   Leveraging EHRs to reduce administrative costs and other waste.

· Identify a signatory. When writing an op-ed, the first step is to identify a signatory—someone who will sign the op-ed. The person signing the op-ed should be well respected and, if possible, well known. For example, he or she may be your organization’s CEO or CIO, a local official such as the head of your city or state’s public health system, or an elected official such as the mayor or a congressional representative.

· Write the op-ed. When writing the op-ed, feel free to use language provided in this toolkit and on the NHIT Week website.

·Obtain approvals. When the op-ed is written, seek approval from the signatory, your organization’s leaders and other stakeholders.

·Contact the media outlet. The next step is to contact the op-ed editor where you want to publish the op-ed. Let them know that you would like to send them an op-ed to recognize National Health IT Week and that you’ve included a local angle. Verify that you have the correct length of the op-ed, how, to whom and where to send it, and when you can expect a response.

·Revise the op-ed. Depending upon your discussion with the media outlet representative, it may be necessary to revise the op-ed. Make the revisions and send it in. If you are sending the op-ed by email, be sure to cut and paste the op-ed into the body of the email. Do not send the op-ed as an attachment, as many newsroom email systems will not accept attachments.