October 2000

Leaders Develop Media Relations Skills


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John Prout, president and chief executive officer of TriHealth, participates in a mock interview during the executive media training program held in August.

Twelve executives from Catholic Health Initiatives learned effective techniques for working with the news media during the first session of Catholic Health Initiatives’ Executive Media Training, held in conjunction with the Chief Executive Officers meeting in Chicago, Ill., at the end of August. The attendees’ evaluation of the program was overwhelmingly positive. "It’s very worthwhile media preparedness training," commented one attendee. "Using facilitators with real life experience, and a wide range of experience, was a big plus," said another. Growing interest in the changes taking place within the health care industry is putting market-based chief executive officers into the role of spokesperson for local and national health care issues, according to Randy Shook, director of media relations for Catholic Health Initiatives. "This training enables them to learn valuable skills and share practical media relations experience and ideas with one another," he said. The Catholic Health Initiatives Communications Resource Group worked with MSI Strategic Communications of Chicago, to develop the customized training program. The program facilitators, Andi Wiley and Mary Gannon, are veteran journalists who explained how members of the news media think and work. They coached attendees on the development of messages for the media and demonstrated techniques for communicating consistent messages in interview situations. The attendees practiced their new skills in role-playing simulations captured on videotape. "The mock interviews are a critical component of the training session," said Diane Jones, director of internal and executive communications for Catholic Health Initiatives. "Before being videotaped, the facilitators worked with each attendee to discuss the issue to be addressed, key audiences, specific points to highlight and difficult questions that a reporter could ask. Most of the attendees wanted even more time for this type of practice, which is something we will include in future sessions." Responsibilities of a Spokesperson Serving as spokesperson for a Catholic Health Initiatives facility or national office carries significant responsibilities. The Executive Media Training session provides insight into these responsibilities, which include:
  • Be an Educator — Understand the current media environment and how reporters think and work.
  • Be Quotable — Develop and deliver quotable messages to convey key information and put issues into perspective.
  • Be Prepared — Think like a reporter in order to identify the questions reporters can (and will) ask.
  • Be in Control — Use media relations techniques to achieve your own objectives in every interview situation.
Executive Media Training Graduates Twelve executives took advantage of Catholic Health Initiatives’ first Executive Media Training Session. Bradley Burris President and Chief Executive Officer Oakes Community Hospital, Oakes, N.D. David Crane Executive Vice President, Operations Centura Health, Denver, Colo. James Cullen President and Chief Executive Officer St. Joseph Medical Center, Towson, Md. William Hendrickson President and Chief Executive Officer St. Joseph Hospital, Lexington, Ky. Lowell Jones President and Chief Executive Officer Marymount Medical Center, London, Ky. Our Lady of the Way Hospital, Martin, Ky. Michael Maher President and Chief Executive Officer St. Ansgar’s Health Center, Park River, N.D. Stephen Mansfield President and Chief Executive Officer St. Vincent Health System, Little Rock, Ark. John Prout President and Chief Executive Officer TriHealth, Cincinnati, Ohio M. Eileen Schmitt, MD President and Chief Executive Officer St. Francis Healthcare Services, Wilmington, Del. Larry Schulz Senior Vice President, Operations Catholic Health Initiatives Thomas Sommers President and Chief Executive Officer Central Kansas Medical Center, Great Bend, Kan. Gregory Wozniak President and Chief Executive Officer St. Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, Pa.

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