Some Dos and Don'ts for Meetings

Don't ever hype stories, making them appear more important than they really are. In particular, don't overplay medical stories, raising false hopes of imminent cures. Any short-term gain in publicity will be more than offset by a long-term distrust engendered in media who are burned by a hyped story.

Also, be prepared to be absolutely honest about the validity or importance of a story that is being hyped at your meeting by either a participating scientist or the PIO from the scientist's institution. Your absolute credibility is vital to good long-term relations with the media. Also, be prepared to provide the names of independent authorities on work described at your meeting.

Don't try to censor stories. Don't demand that stories be cleared with the source. Most reporters want accurate stories as much as the scientists do.

Don't attempt to hide or sequester reports. Make them all available. You may express your view of the soundness or validity of any project or report, but stop there.

Do remember news of winners of awards and citations and of new officers.

Don't forget the official business of the meeting. Committee reports and recommendations, official actions, and resolutions — whether passed or defeated — may make important news. The American Medical Association and state medical societies open the meetings of their delegates and reference committees to the media.

Do encourage frank, open discussion and acquaintanceships between your members and science writers.


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