Creating a "media buzz" for the Annual Meeting

By Jennie McKee

AAOS spreads the word about hot topics in orthopaedics

Clinical advances, research findings, and new technologies or techniques are all part of the educational activity at the AAOS Annual Meeting. Many of these presentations appeal not only to AAOS members but also to local and national media representatives, who bring the stories back to their audiences.

Spreading the word about orthopaedics and bringing these stories to the media’s attention is a year-long task that’s especially intense during the Annual Meeting, when the action is focused in the AAOS press room, Room 902 of the Venetian Hotel.

Inside, the media and public relations staff—including Catherine Dolf, Lauren Pearson, Addy Kujawa, and Kayee Dooley—led by Sandra Gordon, director of the department of public relations (PR), work tirelessly to create a buzz about the AAOS Annual Meeting.

A beehive of activity

Media representatives use the AAOS press room as their “home base” during the Annual Meeting. Stories appear in outlets such as Reuters Health, the Associated Press, The New York Times, and USA Today. Last year, for example, more than 100 media representatives who reach an estimated audience of 50 million people attended the 75th AAOS Annual Meeting.

Press releases on clinical topics with a timely, consumer-oriented focus help generate interest. Topics are drawn from posters, podium presentations, and scientific exhibits. Other press releases focus on non-clinical topics, such as the Kappa Delta Award winners, the playground build, and the incoming AAOS officers.

“Highlights and Hot Topics” from the Annual Meeting is a new feature in the AAOS Press Kit. These are short summaries of studies being presented at the AAOS Annual Meeting and on Specialty Day. Each summary includes a link to the study abstract.

Staff from the PR department are always available to suggest story ideas, provide resource materials, and provide any other help necessary to the media.

“Being in the press room is fun,” says Nicholas A. DiNubile, MD, chair of the Public Relations Oversight Group (PROG). “Any health reporter should leave the press room with plenty of ideas and knowledge, as well as the motivation to write a good story.”

Dr. DiNubile credits the PR staff with ensuring that breaking orthopaedic news and cutting-edge research receive as much media attention as possible.

Frank Kelly, MD, chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet, agrees. “The Academy staff members do a superb job of accommodating the journalists and help them get in touch with members they want to interview,” says Dr. Kelly. “We’ve received tremendously positive feedback from members of the press.”

Help from volunteers

The Academy’s efforts to promote key messages would not be successful without the help and support of its members. PROG volunteers review each press release befoe it’s issued to the media.

“New information about musculoskeletal conditions is constantly being generated, and the Annual Meeting is a hotbed of new research and innovation” says Dr. DiNubile. “But frequently, the research needs to be translated and put into words that will interest the media; reporters have to see the applicability of the research to their audiences. The PR folks call it a ‘hook.’”

Annual Meeting presenters provide expertise at media briefings and speak with reporters who are interested in covering their studies. The Academy’s media training seminars—including the free media training offered at the Annual Meeting—help sharpen volunteers’ communication skills and teach them how to deliver key messages.

“If you think you’re a good communicator, volunteer and the Academy will train you and help you hone your skills,” says Dr. DiNubile. “Learning to work with the media is a lot like surgery: it takes some training, experience, and repetition, but most people can get really good at it, which helps provide valuable information to the public.”

“Stop by the PR booth in Academy Row to learn more about these initiatives and to find out how you can get involved,” says Dr. Kelly. “You can also pick up a wealth of free materials such as postcards, posters, brochures, and more for use in your office.”