Thursday, July 1, 2010

Conference bits - A radio marathon

Before I came to Conference for the first time in 2000, I spoke with our board chair, Bonnie Dukart, about using the event to generate press and build awareness of PH. She told me there had been board concerns about such public visibility. At the time there was fear of losing jobs.

That has changed over the years, with our community understanding and embracing media awareness as a tool to put a spotlight on this disease and build momentum for change.

This year, we focused a considerable part of our press efforts on the fact that PHA, the organization representing a disease with only 20,000 to 30,000 diagnosed patients, gives an annual award to a physician carrying a prize of $50,000 for continuing clinical excellence at the physician’s PH center.

The approach worked – bigtime!

The day before we left for Conference, this year’s winner, Dr. Vallerie McLaughlin and I started off with an hour long PBS radio interview that turned out to be just a warm-up.

Last Thursday at 3:30am Pacific Time, Dr. McLaughlin and I made our way down from our rooms to a meeting space where we did 15 more radio interviews – each 10 to 15 minutes long – over the course of the next four hours. The interviews brought us into East Coast drive time and covered markets ranging from New York City to Oklahoma City, from Detroit to Colorado Springs. First reports were that we brought the PH message to 2.5 million listeners…and replays are expected to add up to 4 million more.

How can we fail when we have members of our community willing to work day and night – in this case, literally – to make a difference?

After the interviews, Val and I made our way to other meetings, including our PHA board meeting and International Leaders Summit that started soon after.

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