"People in the United States seem to have grown complacent and forgotten that HIV/AIDS is not just a problem overseas, but one here in our own nation. With as many as 1.1 million people in our country living with HIV/AIDS, our government, through passing a new Ryan White CARE Act, must ensure that lifesaving drugs, medical care, and social services are provided to those in need, wherever they live."
"Continued flat funding for CARE Act programs will do little to help eliminate current waiting lists, and nothing to extend care and treatment to people who aren't even on those lists. Instead, it will only serve to pit city against city and state against state for the limited dollars available. A person's ability to receive treatment should not depend upon where in the country they live."
"The Ryan White CARE Act works -- that is why it must be reauthorized. In the devastation following Hurricane Katrina, one of the only bright notes was that the Ryan White/ADAP system in states across the country went into high gear to assure that poor patients could access their life-saving medications. The CARE Act and the systems it has created serve as a model for all medical care in the U.S."
"Ryan taught us that AIDS can strike anyone, anywhere. As we work together to renew the Ryan White CARE Act, I urge the Congress and the Administration to provide adequate funding so that everyone who is in need of these lifesaving medications and medical care, can have the chance to live productive, healthy and longer lives."
"With as many as 1.1 million people in the U.S. living today with HIV/AIDS, and nearly 3 out of 4 of them uninsured or relying on public assistance, the CARE Act for them is a matter of life or death. This media campaign will remind Americans that HIV/AIDS exists in everyone's neighborhood and that despite the success of the Ryan White program, not all Americans have access to lifesaving care and treatment."
"The Ryan White CARE Act has a proven track record of success in providing lifesaving drugs as well as a full range of medical care and support services. The CARE Act is keeping people alive much longer than ever before. It has had strong bipartisan support from Congressional leaders over the years. We expect the same this year -- swift passage of reauthorization legislation this fall."
Resources at The Body:
- Media Relations
- Techniques Used to Respond to the Media
- Media Tools
- Media Templates
- Campaign Contact Information
The Ryan White ACTION (AIDS Care and Treatment In Our Nation) Campaign was launched by The AIDS Institute, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the HIV Medicine Association and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). The goal of the campaign is to promote public education and awareness of the Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act.
The Ryan White ACTION Campaign Media Toolkit is designed for the many constituencies who want to have a voice in the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization process. The information contained within this toolkit will help you communicate with the media and deliver clear and consistent messages about the Ryan White CARE Act and the positive impact it has had on the lives of many Americans.
The media can be a valuable tool to use to deliver your key messages to specific audiences; however, what you say, and how you say it, can have a significant impact on whether the media covers it and how they present your message to the public. Often the most difficult part of gaining the media's attention is developing a story angle that is both newsworthy and informative to media's specific audiences.
Media responds strongly to personal stories. Therefore, while statistics will be important, your media outreach success will be enhanced by including personal profiles of people affected by the Ryan White legislation, and those potentially affected by proposed changes to the legislation. This toolkit provides the basic factual information on the CARE Act that you will need to reach out to media. However, it will be important to weave the personal stories into any pitch you make to the media.
Media Relations provides tips and information for reaching out to the media; Techniques Used to Respond to the Media provides tips and information for responding to media inquiries and conducting media interviews; Media Tools contains background information about the Campaign that you can use when talking to members of the public or the media; Media Templates contains boilerplate press materials; and Campaign Contact Information gives you contacts for public relations professionals working on this project.
There are generally two ways of communicating with the media: on a proactive basis, where you are reaching out to the media to inform them and pitch them on story ideas about your campaign or event; or on a reactive basis, where you are responding to specific media requests. This toolkit is designed to address both approaches.
It will be important before beginning outreach to determine the message you are trying to communicate and the audience you wish to reach. If your goal is to influence Members of Congress and other legislators, then your key audiences will be media in the hometown and districts of target Members. If your goal is to reach out to the general public and educate them about the legislation and how it impacts your community, then your key audiences will consist of health media for the newspapers (daily and weekly), radio stations and televisions stations in your area. Understanding your audience and your message will help you more effectively direct your outreach to appropriate reporters and media outlets.
Below are a few questions you should ask yourself before reaching out to a reporter.
- Is your story timely? Does your story angle have a "hook" that the reporter can tie to
current news or an upcoming event? (i.e. expiration of the legislation, new legislation that
impacts your community, looming crisis in funding or care, etc.)
- Does the story you are pitching include a local angle? (i.e. does said legislation or crisis
affect that state or city?) Stories that provide information about a reader's community are
much more likely to be picked up than those with little or no relevance to local readers.
- Will targeted audiences consider the information important or useful?
- Is there anything unique or unusual about the information? Can the information be tied to
- Are there any interesting personal stories, facts or data that can be included as part of the story?
The materials created for the national outreach provide useful tools for your local media outreach. In this toolkit, you will find several documents on the Campaign, including a "Facts at a Glance" and "Key Messages" that can help you create localized story angles. For example:
- As the expiration date of the Ryan White CARE Act (September 30, 2005) approaches, media
in all markets will be interested in stories that illustrate the impact of the funding on their
communities. Pitch a story about changes (or flat funding) for the Ryan White CARE Act and
how those changes will affect your community.
- Use key dates to pitch stories -- such as Latino AIDS Awareness Day (October 15) and World
AIDS Day (December 1).
- Use major events and conferences taking place in your area as news hooks to pitch stories.
- Determine whether your local newspaper or broadcast news provides a column or segment of the news in which it highlights a member of the community. If so, identify "heroes" in your community who help provide HIV/AIDS care and treatment with Ryan White funding.
The next step in reaching out to media on a proactive basis is compiling a good media list. The following identifies different categories for list building:
Daily and weekly newspapers: Each state has one or more major daily newspapers and each community has a number of weekly, community-based newspapers. Often, these will also include newspapers created for audiences that may be highly appropriate to your issue (i.e. urban, or minority, etc.).
Local television and cable access stations: There are four major network affiliates in each market: NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox.
Local radio: Radio stations are important audiences. In addition to network affiliates, you should include any radio stations that provide public affairs programming (i.e. talk radio). Radio stations with purely musical formats should not be included.
Internet and Satellite Radio: In the last 10 years, many (if not most) regional newspapers and television stations have developed on-line versions of their media outlets, thus enabling them to share their news stories with a national audience. Some newspapers duplicate the text from the hardcopy of the newspaper into the on-line version, while others have on-line reporters who exclusively write stories for the publication's website. Most regional television stations mix local news with national news obtained primarily from wires such as the Associated Press and Reuters. Increasingly, more radio stations are making their on-air news broadcasts available via the Internet using audio files and transcripts. In the case of satellite radio services, more local radio stations are being created that provide local information to far away listeners. For example, travelers in New York can tune in real time to traffic and weather news in Portland, Oregon via satellite transmission.
Trade publications: Trade publications target very specific audiences who have a particular interest in a subject matter (i.e. health, education, travel, etc.). Trade publication reporters are often considered "experts" in the areas they write about, and therefore, when you communicate with them, you should include more in-depth information about the Campaign that more general reporters may find unnecessary.
As discussed under Media Lists, reporters are often assigned to news beats, which means they cover a specific subject matter or demographic. In the case of the Ryan White ACTION Campaign, reporters who cover health and government are perfect examples of the types of reporters you want to target. Below are brief descriptions of key media players you will want to familiarize yourself with:
Editor/Managing Editor: The editor and/or managing editor has overall responsibility for the print publication and determines which stories will run and what will be cut. Publishers rely on editors to ensure that news content meets journalistic standards and fulfills the needs and demands of its audiences.
Producers: Serve a similar role as the editor/managing editor of print publications, but for broadcast news through television and radio outlets.
Assignment Managers: Assigns reporters to cover specific stories. Assignment Managers often rotate within the newsroom, so it is important to call the media outlet and ask to speak to the Assignment Desk if you do not know the name of the current assignment manager.
Guest Bookers: Though rarely listed in media directories, guest bookers are responsible for booking guests on television and radio news shows. Their job is to find guests that meet the criteria outlined by broadcast producers.
Anchors/Hosts: Television anchors and radio hosts are usually not the appropriate person to contact to pitch story ideas, since they usually tell the stories assigned to them by producers.
Reporters: If you have an ongoing relationship with a reporter, or you know specifically which reporter you need to contact to pitch a story, you can often bypass the editor/managing or producer. However, it is important to understand that when pitching a story to a reporter, the reporter in turn has to "pitch" your pitch to his editor/producer. Therefore, when presenting story ideas to a reporter, it is imperative that you provide the reporter with the relevant information he will need to get approval from the editor. Below is a list of reporters you are likely to pitch the Ryan White ACTION Campaign story angle to:
Metro/Community Reporters: Report on issues of importance within the metropolitan area of a city or community. Stories include, but are not limited to local government, human-interest stories, local crimes, community activities and business.
Government Reporters: Many large print publications have reporters stationed in the Washington, D.C. area to cover the Federal Government and how policy decisions might affect their readership. It is very helpful to familiarize yourself with the issues the cadre of government reporters in Washington is covering to potentially use past coverage as a hook for a future story (i.e. you wrote about Ryan White the last time it was reauthorized, would you be interested in covering the issue again?). As is the case with trade publication reporters, newspaper and magazine beat reporters are usually experts in the areas they cover, so you should take additional steps to provide them more in-depth and statistical information about the CARE Act.
Health Reporters: An estimated 1.1 million Americans are infected with HIV/AIDS and 40,000 new infections occur each year, making this an important story for health reporters.
Once you determine which media you will target to pitch your story angle, you will create a media list containing media contact information, such as e-mail addresses and phone/fax numbers. While there are a number of software programs and media directories that provide media contact information, these can be expensive. Therefore, we recommend calling local outlets directly to inquire which reporters are covering the news beats you want to reach. Though this is much more time consuming, contacting the media outlet directly allows you to introduce yourself to key members of the staff, such as managing editors or producers and begin to develop working relationships.
A media advisory is a one-page notice that informs and/or invites media to an event or to interview someone. It highlights the basic who, what, when, where, why and how of an event or individual you want the media to cover. An example would be "Ms. White is available for an interview." (See Media Templates for sample). In addition to sending your media advisory to everyone on your media list, be sure to also send all media advisories to the Associated Press (AP) Day Book, which is a wire service that logs national and local events open to the media. Be sure you include a time and place for your event, and information about interviews and/or photo opportunities.
A press release is a shortened version of a news article that is used to entice the media to want to learn more about your organization, program, cause or product. Press/news releases can be one to two pages in length (400-500 words) (See Media Templates for sample) and should contain information with news or feature story value. Since the media literally receive hundreds of press releases a week via e-mail and fax, it is important that you make your press release stand out from all the others. The first step to ensuring that your release gets read is to make sure it is newsworthy and contains information that is relevant to the media's target audience.
Though similar to a press/news release, a pitch letter targets a specific person, such as an editor or producer asking them to consider writing a story about a specific topic or person. For example, you can send a pitch letter to a newspaper editor asking him to consider writing an article. Or as discussed under story angles (Techniques Used to Respond to the Media) you can use a pitch letter to inform an editor about something unique to a given community, for example, the looming crisis in Tennessee. A pitch letter allows you to propose a story angle to a reporter, while at the same time enabling you to inform him about the Campaign, and why he/she should consider it important. A pitch letter should only be one-page in length and no more than 4 or 5 paragraphs. As in the case of press/news releases, put the most important information in the first paragraph -- be concise and straight to the point. In the concluding paragraph include contact information and tell the reporter you will be following up with them by phone.
A fact sheet provides detailed background information about the Campaign. One to two pages in length, fact sheet information can include history, interesting and compelling statistics and contact information.
When developing your media list, pay attention to how a reporter wants to receive their material. Most reporters today prefer to receive media materials via email; although, some still prefer fax or mail.
When sending e-mails, make sure your subject title fits into the subject line of the e-mail. Like your press release headline, the e-mail subject title should grab a reporter's attention and entice him or her to want to read more.
Do not send press releases as word document attachments unless the reporter requests it. Instead, put the text of media material into the body of the e-mail. Different types of software and software upgrades often mean that e-mail recipients are unable to open or read attached documents. Text contained within the body of an e-mail virtually guarantees your material will be delivered intact.
Once you have sent out your materials, it is important to follow-up with calls directly to the reporter to ensure your materials are received. While surveys have shown that reporters don't like to be called directly, it is the only way to ensure your story is reviewed. Some reporters receive hundreds of emails a day, without a follow-up call, many of them go unread.
This section provides tips on responding to media calls and requests, and/or preparing for and conducting an interview.
Gather as much information as possible from the reporter. Understand who the reporter is and why he/she is calling:
- Identify the reporter and his/her affiliation. If possible, determine the reporter's audience --
size, geographic location, ages, occupations and interests.
- Establish the focus of the story.
- Find out the reporter's deadline.
- Find out who else will be interviewed for the story.
- Ask how the reporter learned about the Campaign or was referred to you.
- For television or radio interviews, find out if the interview will be live, taped or 'live to tape' (meaning it's a live interview that is aired at a later date.) For radio, ask if there will be listener call-in. This information will help you not get caught unaware by a caller you weren't expecting during the interview.
Collect and organize your thoughts:
You do not have to talk to the reporter immediately. The reporter has had time to prepare, so you should grant yourself the same opportunity. It is important, however, to respect a reporter's deadline. If you do not get back to the reporter in time, especially if responding to a potential negative story, you risk seeing or hearing a report that says "X could not be reached for comment."
Use your preparation time to do the following:
- Read through the tips and suggestions that follow in this toolkit.
- Prepare for likely questions.
- Outline two or three key points you want to make.
- Think about your visual appearance (in the event of a television interview). (Clothes that are blue or red appear well on television -- avoid white -- it can be too bright for television cameras.)
- If you are in a situation that does not allow you to fully prepare, then in a friendly manner ask
the reporter for the following:
- The nature of the story he/she is working on.
- Specific questions she would like addressed.
- The deadline, in case you would like to provide supporting information after the interview.
- The nature of the story he/she is working on.
- In a situation in which a hostile reporter is asking loaded questions, it is important to KEEP YOUR COOL and REMAIN CALM. Do not try to debate a reporter. Provide him/her with accurate, concise information. Offer to send the reporter information or call him/her back when you have some supporting documentation in hand.
- Emphasize positive stories and profiles. The success of the legislation is best illustrated in the
many personal stories of people who have benefited by it. Media like to tell a story through
real-life case histories and examples. Have 2-3 individuals involved in the Campaign who have
an interesting story to tell and are comfortable sharing it with the media. Statistical information
and percentages are also solid evidence of the overwhelming success of the legislation.
(See Media Tools for key statistics).
- Be Consistent. All responses to media inquiries should be consistent. To ensure consistency, share background information with other individuals who might be speaking with the media
on the Campaign's behalf.
- Technique. The key here is to be HONEST, SINCERE and CONFIDENT. If you do not know
the answer to a reporter's questions, then say so. If you can find out, then do so.
- Avoid Speculation. Do not be speculative or answer hypothetical questions. If a reporter
leads with, "Assume that..." or "What if...", respond with something such as, "I am unable to
speculate on that, however..." and state your positive message.
- Remain Positive. Convey positive messages and responses. Positive remarks are the best.
For example, if a negative question is posed, don't say, "No, the Ryan White CARE Act is not
about X." Instead say, what the Ryan White CARE Act is about.
- "No Comment". Do not say "No Comment." It sounds as if you have something to hide. If
you do not have an answer, say so and let the reporter know that you, or the appropriate
Campaign spokesperson, will get back to them with information. If you do not want to discuss
something, rephrase the general message or refer to your key messages on the topic -- you
don't have to answer specifics. Be firm, but not abrasive.
- Keep It Simple. Technical terms may be foreign to a reporter. If a reporter fully understands you, he is more likely to incorporate your response in the story.
- Be Concise. State your answer and stop. Do not fill in silent pauses. Often a reporter will ask a question, wait for your response, and then be silent, waiting for you to elaborate. If a
reporter seems to utilize this technique, provide your answer, stop, and ask the reporter if
there are any other questions. A pause also provides you with the opportunity to add your two
or three key points or collect your thoughts.
- Press Contacts. Keep a record of press contacts. This will help you remember which
reporters are fair and balanced and should be called upon when you have something to say.
- Television Interviews. Often television coverage will only air your response, so it is best to restate the question at the beginning of your answer. (i.e. Q: "What is the goal of the Campaign?" A: "The goal of the Campaign is ...")
Media terms have different meanings to organizations and members of the media. It is therefore important from the outset to lay down the ground rules surrounding a media interview. Below are some key terms you must know.
- Off-the-Record. means no part of the interviewee's statement can be printed or broadcasted.
Understand that NOTHING is off-the-record when speaking to a reporter. If you do not wish to
have a statement of fact appear in print or broadcast do not provide the information or quote
to the reporter. Also, please note that any information provided via e-mail can be considered
"on the record."
Often people provide reporters information off-the-record because they know and trust them. However, you must be prepared to deal with the circumstances of your off-the-record remarks being made public. There is no law that states a reporter cannot use off-the-record remarks. It is an ethical decision every reporter must make, and in some cases they will break this unwritten rule to meet their perceived obligation of being a journalist.
- On-Background. means that the interviewee's name is not identified and she is instead referred to as a "spokesperson for the Ryan White ACTION Campaign." However, some organizations and reporters interpret on-background to mean not using your name or the company name. Therefore, it is important to clarify ahead of time with the reporter his definition of on-background.
There are three basic options to respond to information printed in a newspaper or magazine -- a letter to the editor, an opinion/editorial piece (Op/Ed), and an editorial board meeting.
- Letter to the Editor. Letters to the editors are only used as a direct response to a published
story in that newspaper. Letters are written to complement the paper on a previously published article, to correct inaccurate facts or highlight and counter bias. Letters should be short
and to the point (on average 2-3 paragraphs at the most). The letter should state your position
clearly and concisely. If the letter is too long, it will be edited down, perhaps by someone who
does not understand the issue. The letter should be one double-spaced page, including the
author's address and phone number.
- Opinion/Editorial Piece. Most newspapers reserve space for readers to voice opinions.
Op/Eds express a strong opinion and take a firm position on an issue or event. For local
papers, the Op/Ed should be localized and aim to provoke conversations among members of
the community. To determine level of interest, or likelihood of placement, you should contact
the editor of the editorial/opinion page in advance and discuss your idea.
The author or signer of the Op/Ed is critical. His/her signature provides credence and accountability to the piece, and therefore, the author/signer should have in-depth knowledge of the Campaign. The subject of the Op/Ed should be timely and preferably tied to current news. The average length is 700-800 words, although it varies by publication, for example, for local papers, 500-700 may be more appropriate. Note: Editors will often solicit contrary viewpoints to Op/Ed pieces.
- Editorial Board Meetings. You may request a meeting with editors and writers covering a specific issue. The intent of the meeting is not necessarily to generate media coverage, but to provide news organizations with background information and introduce yourself as a resource. For some topics, editorial board meetings could result in the paper talking an editorial position.
- Radio and television broadcasts are more difficult to respond to than print stories due to the
limited time electronic media devotes to news packages.
- The techniques used to respond to radio or television stories are similar to those of print,
although appearance, speaking style and inflection come to bear in an electronic presentation.
- To respond to a previously aired story, contact the reporter or the news director at the station and ask for the opportunity to present your side of the story. If a broadcaster interviews you, remember that he probably will use only a 15-30 second "sound bite" from your entire interview. Therefore, state your main points concisely, clearly and frequently.
- Don't call during hours when you know a reporter is on deadline. Traditionally, deadlines hours
are between 4:00-5:00 p.m., however today's 24/7 news cycle means that deadline hours
vary. Educate yourself about these times, and avoid contacting reporters during these hours.
- Don't tell a reporter you will give him an exclusive story, and then offer it to a competitor. It is fair to provide a reporter a timeline for which you are willing to hold a story, but let them know
if they are not willing to commit to a story within a specified timeframe you will offer it to
another media outlet. However, when informing them of your intent to seek out other media
outlets make sure that this information does not come across as a "threat."
- Don't treat the media as "advertising agents." The responsibility of the media is to "inform" the public about issues, events, products that are of importance to them. If you approach the media in a way that suggests you want them to help you "sell" your product or purely "influence" the public to see an issue your way, you lose their respect and they will likely be unwilling to deal with you in the future.
Since 1990, it has provided states, cities, counties, clinics and hospitals with funding to provide HIV/AIDS treatment and care to poor, underinsured and uninsured Americans and families who otherwise would not have access.
It forges partnerships between federal, state, local and private agencies.
By helping to fund the distribution of lifesaving medications, the Ryan White CARE Act has been an integral part of an effort that has decreased AIDS deaths in the United States from a peak of about 50,000 in 1995 to only about 18,000 in 2003, and increased life spans and quality of life for thousands of others.
Congress has renewed the program twice -- in 1996 and 2000 -- both times with strong bipartisan support.
The CARE Act provides services to over 500,000 HIV-positive individuals in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories.
CARE Act programs are currently funded at $2 billion in FY2005.
HIV/AIDS is an infectious disease.
As of late 2003, there were 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV/AIDS.
The CDC recently estimated that, from the end of 1999 through the end of 2003, the number of persons in the United States who were living with AIDS increased from 311,205 to 405,926 -- an increase of 30 percent.
An additional 40,000 people in America become infected with HIV/AIDS each year.
While deaths have decreased in recent years, the CDC reports that HIV/AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death of Americans between the ages of 16 and 54.
Due to funding restraints, nine states currently have waiting lists for people in need of drugs (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina and West Virginia).
In states like Mississippi and Tennessee, and others around the country, people with AIDS are losing their health care coverage including drug coverage due to state Medicaid cutbacks and other funding constraints.
A May 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine, "Public Financing and Delivery of HIV/AIDS Care: Securing the Legacy of Ryan White," found that over 233,000 HIV-positive Americans do not have consistent access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
The CDC estimates there are 211,000 people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. who are not receiving drug treatment, but should be.
Minority populations represent nearly 70 percent of people served by Ryan White programs, but recent studies show that minorities' access to these programs is hampered by "key barriers" such as "restrictive eligibility criteria" for publicly funded health insurance, "distrust of government" and stigma associated with HIV.
Better treatments have led to an increasing number of persons in the United States who are living with AIDS. From the end of 1999 through the end of 2003, the number of persons in the United States who were living with AIDS increased from 311,205 to 405,926 -- an increase of 30 percent.
Newly infected people are increasingly likely to be poor, to be members of a minority community, and to have inadequate access to healthcare.
In 2003, African Americans, who make up approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for half of the AIDS cases diagnosed.
Although Hispanics make up about 14 percent of the population of the United States and Puerto Rico, they account for approximately 20 percent of all new diagnoses.
Women account for a growing proportion of new AIDS diagnoses, rising from 8 percent in 1985 to 27 percent in 2003.
Eighty percent of people who benefit from Ryan White ADAP funding have annual incomes of less than $19,500 or 200 percent of the federal poverty level for an individual.
While the majority of AIDS cases are still in urban areas, more and more people in rural areas, like the South, are being infected.
Due to funding restraints, nine states currently have waiting lists for people in need of drugs.
In some communities, people have to wait months for a doctor's appointment.
A small increase in ADAP and "flat funding" for all other Titles of the CARE Act will do little to help eliminate current waiting lists, and nothing to extend care and treatment to people who aren't even on those lists.
Flat funding will exacerbate the current crisis in the availability of primary care and adherence support services for persons living with HIV/AIDS and funded by the CARE Act.
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