Tragic accidents, e.g. involving celebrity patients or severe incidents in hospital occur suddenly without any advance warning, often produce substantial interest by the media and quickly overburden management personnel involved in both hospitals and emergency medical services. While doctors, hospitals and emergency medical services desire objective media reports, the media promote emotionalized and dramatized reports to ensure maximum attention and circulation. When briefing the media, the scales may quickly tilt from professional, well-deliberated information to unfortunate, often unintended disinformation. Such phenomena may result in continuing exaggerated reports in the tabloid press, which in the presence of aggressive lawyers and a competitive hospital environment can turn into image and legal problems. In this article, several aspects are discussed in order to achieve successful public relations. Interviews should be given only after consultation with the responsible press officer and the director of the respective department or hospital director. Requests for information by the media should always be answered as otherwise one-sided, unintentional publications can result that are extremely difficult to correct later. One should be available to be contacted easily by journalists, regular press conferences should be held and critics should be taken seriously and not be brushed off. Questions by journalists should be answered in a timely manner as journalists are continuously under time pressure and do not understand unnecessary delays. Information for the media should always be provided at the same time, no publication should be given preference and an absolutely current list of E-mail contacts is required. When facing big events a press conference is preferred as many questions can be answered at once. Always be well prepared for an interview or even for just a statement. Each interview should be regarded as an opportunity to put a story forward which you wanted to do for a long time and your message should not contain more than three main points. Each hospital or emergency medical service should have a professional department for public relations, an exact knowledge of the regional and national media and strategies how to handle an incident that is of interest for the media. The media should be provided with information not only when a negative incident has happened but should be provided with regular positive messages as well. An interview must be carefully prepared to achieve a good image.
- EMC COEUR-09