How to help position dermatology in the media

                Dr. Bowe 

By Whitney Bowe, MD, FAAD

As dermatologists, we educate our patients in our offices every day about how to care for their skin, hair, and nails, and about the services we provide to help them look and feel their best. 

However, there are many people who may not understand what we do and the value we provide. I have found that working with the media provides an excellent opportunity to explain to the public the depth and breadth of our field and our expertise. Media interviews allow us to dismiss the hype related to skin, hair, and nail health and get the facts straight, as well as establish ourselves as credible experts. We also can encourage those who have skin, hair, and nail concerns to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. 

The AAD recognizes the important role the media play in educating the public and our patients about the specialty of dermatology. To assist us in interacting with the media, the Academy provides a variety of tools and experiences that can help us enhance our skills.

Media training

At the Annual and Summer Academy Meetings, you have the opportunity to attend media training. This interactive workshop teaches you how to develop and deliver your most important messages during media interviews. It also provides you with valuable tips about how to prepare for and interact with the media during an interview. As a past participant, I found this course to be very valuable and still use the tools and techniques I learned in media training.

Media interviews allow us to dismiss the hype related to skin, hair, and nail health, and get the facts straight, as well as establish ourselves as credible experts.

The Academy also has an online Media Relations Toolkit that members can access to find the latest about news that affects dermatology, including fact sheets and FAQs to help you answer both media and patient questions. There also are a variety of template materials available that are ready for you to use to reach out to your local media with story ideas. The toolkit also has some great tips and reminders that you can reference when you’re conducting media relations and preparing for the interviews you secure. 

Beauty Breakthroughs

As you develop your media relations skills, you often will find more opportunities to use them. For example, I was privileged to participate in the Academy’s Beauty Breakthroughs, a luncheon event in New York City that is held specifically for the beauty editors at national women’s magazines. Beauty Breakthroughs connects the editors with Academy members who can provide updates about the latest beauty technologies and research to help beauty editors evaluate the validity of new product and treatment claims. The editors can use this information throughout the year to educate their readers about skin, hair, and nail health.

At this year’s event, there were 16 beauty editors in attendance from publications that included Glamour, Cosmopolitan, O: The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Fitness. I spoke about the potential use of probiotics for the treatment of acne and rosacea. 

I was joined on the panel by Emmy Graber, MD, and Cheryl Karcher, MD, who spoke about over-the-counter acne treatments and ultrasound for the removal of back fat. Throughout the event, the editors asked us thoughtful and intuitive questions. 

Following the event, I had the opportunity to catch up with editors I already knew, and get to know editors I had not yet had the opportunity to meet previously. A handful of editors have already reached out to me to ask for my participation in future dermatology-related stories. 

If you have any research about skin, hair, or nail health, or new statistics and facts about dermatology, consider submitting your application for the 2014 Beauty Breakthroughs event. The call for proposals will be advertised in late spring in Member to Member and Dermatology Daily

The Academy’s Council on Communications reviews the proposals and selects member participants for the event. To apply, you must be an Academy Fellow. Your abstract topic should include new research, study results, or technology breakthroughs that will benefit consumers, and your abstract should not be based on a proprietary product or technology.

Improve your visibility

If you’re interested in increasing your visibility in your community, the Academy provides a variety of media relations tools to help you highlight how dermatologists can help the public look and feel their best. 

Whether patients' concerns are about enhancing their appearance or treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and skin cancer, you can be instrumental in promoting dermatologists as the specialists to see to treat all of these conditions.

I encourage you to take an interest in media relations and develop your own relationships with the media. You will be surprised by how easy and rewarding these relationships can be!

Whitney P. Bowe, MD, is a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, N.Y., and adjunct assistant clinical professor of dermatology at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

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