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Get tips on media relations and public education.

  • PR overview
  • Tips for interviews
  • Background materials
  • Social media FAQs
  • AAD Fellow logo

Tab 1

Through its media relations and public education efforts, the Academy encourages the public to care for their skin, hair and nails and see a board-certified dermatologist when appropriate.  In addition, it provides members with the tools they need to communicate the Academy’s messages to their patients, policymakers, communities and local media.


Through its efforts, the Academy strives to communicate the following fundamental messages:

  • Board-certified dermatologists are:
    • dedicated physicians highly trained to provide life-saving, life-changing and cost-effective care.
    • the experts in the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of skin, hair and nail conditions for people of all ages.
    • eager to be integral partners in a high-value, patient-centered health care team.
  • The American Academy of Dermatology is a valuable resource for information about dermatology.


Public education campaigns

The Academy conducts public education efforts throughout the year, including the following:

SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the Academy’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer. To support this campaign, the Academy conducts public and media outreach during Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month in May.  Melanoma Monday®, the first Monday in May, is dedicated to raising awareness of the deadliest form of skin cancer.

National Healthy Skin Month, which takes place in November, was created to promote the importance of healthy skin to the public and provide people of all ages with information to help them properly care for their skin.

Campaign components

The following components may be included in the Academy's media relations efforts:

News releases highlight the latest information on skin, hair and nails. A news release provides written information that can be used by broadcast or print media as the basis for an article or news segment. These are distributed to national print and broadcast outlets, including wire services and syndicates, national and local newspapers, television and radio networks, top market newspapers and television stations, general interest magazines, women's and men's interest magazines, health and beauty magazines, trade publications, and medical and health websites.

Media pitching generates interest and encourages coverage of stories on general dermatology issues. This usually consists of phone calls and emails to print and broadcast outlets.

Satellite (television) media tours and radio media tours feature Academy members talking about good habits for healthy skin, hair and nails on broadcast outlets across the country.

Academy website postings highlight general dermatology information, including news releases and statistics.

Social media postings on the Academy’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest channels highlight skin, hair and nail content on the Academy website and encourage people to engage with that content.

These media relations activities aim to increase the awareness of dermatology and the role of the dermatologist, and deliver key skin, hair and nail messages to the public.

As an Academy member, you can contribute to the Academy's national efforts with local media and community outreach. To get started, check out the rest of the resources in the Media Relations Toolkit, or contact the Academy’s Communications Department at (847) 330-0230 or mediarelations@aad.org.


Tab 2

Media interviews provide an excellent opportunity for you to educate the public about the importance of skin, hair and nail health. No matter who the reporter is (i.e., local or national) or how the interview is conducted (i.e., in person, by phone or over email), keep the following tips in mind.

When you are contacted by the media

When you receive a media inquiry, respond as soon as possible. If your schedule does not allow you to participate, you should decline the request. Do not ignore the inquiry.  A response, whether or not you can participate in the interview, is a great way to ensure that the reporter will continue to contact you in the future.


If you are a member of the Academy’s Media Expert Team and are unable to participate in an interview, please notify the Academy as soon as possible. Another Media Expert Team member can participate in the interview so the specialty can be represented in the story.


If you have questions about the topic of a media inquiry, or if you would like to see if the Academy has any background information on the topic, please contact the Communications Department at (847) 330-0230 or mediarelations@aad.org. You also can reference the Academy’s Key Messages, which includes talking points on the skin, hair and nail conditions most commonly requested by the media.  


Before the interview

  • Confirm the time, date and, for live interviews, location of the interview, either by phone or email.
  • Provide the reporter with a short personal biography and offer additional print materials about the topic(s), such as fact sheets and website links. You can contact the Academy to request background materials.
  • Do your homework. Prepare for the interview by reviewing all the updated facts and figures about your topic, and by reading articles by the reporter or watching the program on which you will appear.
  • If you have photos of skin, hair or nail conditions relevant to the story, and your patients’ permission to use them, offer them to the reporter.
  • If participating in a broadcast interview or meeting the reporter in person, arrive at least 15 minutes early to familiarize yourself with the setting and relax.
  • If you are participating in the interview by phone during business hours, make sure your staff is aware that you are expecting a phone call from the media, and clear your patient schedule to allow enough time for the interview, typically 15-20 minutes. If you have time constraints, let the reporter know.


During the interview

  • Know the key messages you want to communicate and state them early. Repeat the key messages at least twice during the interview so the reporter knows you think this information is important. Use phrases such as, "It is very important to remember ..." or "Let me go back to an important point I mentioned earlier ..." or "Let me emphasize one thing ..." By stressing the importance of your messages, you’ll make them more memorable for the reporter and the audience.
  • Speak in short, concise sentences.
  • Relax and speak naturally.
  • Use layman's terms and avoid technical language and medical jargon.
  • Use concise examples, brief stories and appropriate anecdotes when possible to illustrate your message.
  • Anticipate questions that will come up during the interview and be prepared to use those questions as launching pads for your key messages.
  • Before you complete the interview, summarize your key messages again. If the reporter asks, “Is there anything you would like to add?”, repeat your key messages in 15 seconds or less. Practice this key message wrap-up until you can say it naturally.
  • Wrap up your interview with a “call to action” for the public. For example, you can direct them to the Academy’s website, aad.org, for more information, or encourage them to find a free skin cancer screening at SPOTme.org.  


After the interview

  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time at the conclusion of the interview.
  • Provide positive feedback about the interview. Remember, part of your goal is to build relationships with local media.
  • Following the interview, send the reporter a note or email thanking him or her for the interview and suggesting ideas for future stories with which you can assist. This is a great way to keep your name in the interviewer's mind for future stories.
  • Send an email to Academy staff at mediarelations@aad.org to let us know about the interview.


Special considerations for television interviews

  • If possible, avoid sitting between two interviewers so you won’t have to turn back and forth to answer questions.
  • Answer the interviewer directly. Do not talk into the camera unless directed to do so.
  • Lean slightly forward in your chair. This posture makes you appear interested.
  • Check your clothes to make sure they do not appear wrinkled or rumpled when you are sitting. Unbutton your suit jacket when you sit.
  • Use natural hand gestures.
  • Do not wear white; television lights can make a bright white shirt or blouse flare. Off-white, beige or pastels are preferred.
  • Avoid busy patterns, such as herringbone. They tend to "dance" under television light.
  • Wear calf-length socks with trousers to prevent skin showing between the sock top and trouser cuff.
  • Keep jewelry simple. Avoid dangling earrings, flashy rings and watches. Remove coins, pens and other bulky or noisy objects from pockets.
  • Remember to turn off your cellphone so it does not interrupt your interview.


Tab 3

Tab 4

Social media has become a popular method of communication for professionals in virtually every industry. But how do you know what level of engagement is appropriate for you as a physician? The following FAQs provide guidance on this issue. 

Q: Can I control who views my social media information online? 

A: Yes. You can control your privacy settings on Facebook, including who can view your personal page, who can email you and whether your profile is “searchable.” You should familiarize yourself with the various privacy settings and check them regularly. You can learn more about Facebook’s privacy settings here.

Twitter’s privacy settings work differently than Facebook's, but you still have the ability to adjust your settings. Remember that even with the highest levels of privacy settings, you cannot guarantee that everything on your page will be confidential. Don’t post anything you aren’t comfortable sharing with others.

Q: Should I accept friend requests from patients?

A: Most social media experts advise against accepting patients' Facebook friend requests to your personal Facebook page. Having separate personal and professional social media accounts allows you to maintain professional objectivity and maintain appropriate boundaries. Remember that the laws governing physician-patient relationships also apply to exchanges on social media sites.

If you have a professional account or an account for your practice, you could accept friend requests on that page from patients and the public. If you decide to create an account for your practice, be sure to have a social media policy in place and that your employees are familiar with the policy.

Q: Should I have separate personal and professional social media accounts?

A: If you would like to interact with the public or with patients, it is recommended that you create separate personal and professional accounts. If you will only be using Facebook to interact with family and friends, you may not need to create a separate professional account. 

Even with a private Facebook page, you should not assume your information is 100 percent private. Posts on social media sites can reflect on your personal and professional reputation.

Q: What if people post negative information or opinions about the Academy or its members?

A: The Academy recognizes that diverse views exist and we value a robust, open dialogue. Conversations about the Academy, dermatology, health care and health policy are already taking place online. By creating a social network presence the Academy can be an active participant in those conversations.

The Academy also has created a comment policy and posts that contain inappropriate language or personal attacks or that otherwise violate the policy will be removed.

Q: Why is the Academy getting involved in social media?

A: Our social media presence will allow the Academy to share information and facilitate conversation in an exciting new way. A social media presence also means that the Academy can participate in important online discussions about dermatology and health care, as well as health policy issues that affect physicians and patients.

Additionally, having a social media presence is now considered a best practice for associations. Nearly 80 percent of all associations, including health care associations, are engaging in social media. Facebook and Twitter can be a powerful outreach and education tools for associations to use when interacting with physicians, patients and even policymakers.

Q: What do I need to know before I join Facebook and/or Twitter?

A: As a physician, there are several things you should keep in mind before you get involved with social media.

  • Remember that all of the laws that apply to physicians and physician/patient relationships also apply online.
  • You have a great deal of control over your privacy settings so be sure to check your settings regularly.
  • Anonymity and confidentiality are never guaranteed on the Internet.
  • Take time to familiarize yourself with how others (and other physicians) are using social media.
  • Use good judgment. If you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing information in a public forum, don’t post it online.
  • Use caution but don’t be afraid to get involved.

Q: Can I post patient information on Facebook or Twitter?

A: You should use extreme caution before posting any type of patient information online. Never disclose any identifying information about patients online. Remember that HIPPA applies to the Internet and social media sites. Keep in mind that information you post online may be shared or made public by someone else. If you wouldn’t share the information in a public setting, don’t share it online. The following article offers tips for physicians about how to avoid HIPAA violations while using social media

Q: What will the Academy be posting online?

A: The Academy will be sharing a range of information on Facebook and Twitter, but initially we will focus on sharing skin, hair and nail health information that staff and Academy members have developed. Facebook and Twitter will allow us to share that important information with the public in a new way. Social media isn’t just a way for the Academy to share information though; we also hope to provide people with an interactive, dynamic way to communicate with the Academy. 

Q: Should I have a website, Facebook page or Twitter feed for my practice? If so, what do I need to know?

A: Many physicians create a website, Facebook page or a Twitter feed for their practices. They do so for a number of reasons, such as advertising, answering common patient questions, and providing easily accessible and accurate health information. Be sure that you have a social media policy in place prior to launching a social media campaign. You should ensure that your employees are familiar with your policy. View tips for drafting a social media policy and sample policies here

Q: Can I opt out of connecting with the Academy on Facebook and Twitter?

A: There is no need to opt out because only members who choose to “opt in” by “liking” or following the Academy will receive information via Facebook or Twitter. We recognize that our members are all different and have different preferences for interacting with the Academy. We are excited to communicate with the public in new ways, but engaging with the Academy’s page on Facebook or Twitter will be entirely optional for members.

Q: What should I do if one of my patients contacts me on Facebook or Twitter?

A: Each Academy member is different so there is no one-size-fits-all approach; however, it’s important to have a plan in place so that you’re prepared if you’re contacted online by a patient. Often, patients don’t understand the liability involved and may not realize that this is not an appropriate way to contact you. You or your staff can follow up with that patient (offline) and explain your policy about physician/patient communication. Here are some tips from fellow physicians about responding to patients who have contacted you online.

Q: Why should physicians be engaged with social media?

A: There are many reasons people choose to use social media. Some physicians want to interact with family, friends or colleagues. Others use social media to keep up with news and current events, or engage in grassroots advocacy. Some physicians want reach out to potential patients and advertise their practices while others want to educate the public about skin, hair and nail health.

Each Academy member has to decide if it makes sense for him or her to get involved with social media. As is true in other settings, physicians need to be cautious about establishing appropriate boundaries and with maintaining patient confidentiality. But that certainly shouldn’t prevent physicians from getting involved with social media. No matter what your reasons are for being on Facebook and Twitter, there are numerous resources available for physicians.

For more information about social media, see the following: 

If you have a resource you would like to recommend, email it to member_socialmedia@aad.org

Tab 5

As a Fellow member of the American Academy of Dermatology in good standing, you are encouraged to use the AAD Fellow Logo as a means of promoting your private practice.

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Tab 6

As a Fellow member of the American Academy of Dermatology in good standing, you are encouraged to use the AAD Fellow Logo as a means of promoting your private practice.

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