Aurora interviews…


Jo Willey, former health editor of the Daily Express and media consultant talks to us about what she believes are important media considerations for the year ahead…

Developing content for online use

Almost half of the population now access the web through their mobile phone and with this we are seeing a shift in news consumption from the desktop to mobile and tablet devices. However, it is important to remember people will not spend 20 minutes reading a news story on their phone– you don’t have the battery life, let alone that amount of spare time in the day!

So when developing media materials it is important to consider if they are optimised for mobile use. Journalists who produce online pieces have less time than a print journalist to put a story together, so having the right content at their fingertips is vital to ensure that the story is covered. In essence the content provided needs to be short and simple so the piece can be created and consumed quickly.

The basics are still important

It is important to remember that even though the way in which we consume news is changing, the elements of what make a good story do not. Science and health journalists like to write factual and interesting stories and they need to be provided with the right materials to do so.  And to do this we need to go back to basics and provide; newsworthy press releases that are interesting, relevant and ultimately engaging; short 30/40 second videos of a mode of action and/or an engaging spokesperson; useful information for factboxes and UK statistics. It is also important to remember that good relationships with journalists and knowing what they are interested in will help you match the story to the right journalist.

Using different channels to communicate your message

In 2015 I would really like to see increased diversity in the way in which we communicate our messages. A company may have a great story to tell but it might not be deemed relevant for the ‘traditional’ national news channels. However, this doesn’t mean that it cannot be told using another channel. Blogs, Twitter and YouTube offer great opportunities for corporate messages and have a huge reach that should not be underestimated. It is also important to remember that Twitter is a very good news source for journalists, and if the story has garnered interest on Twitter it may well catch their interest.

Pharmaceutical companies being able to engage in social media in 2015

This year it would be great to see further developments in pharmaceutical company social media engagement. This needs to be a combined effort between the pharmaceutical industry and the regulators, as the current rules are very restrictive. It will by no means change overnight, but I believe we should all be working together towards a common goal of increased communication in the social media space.

What are you predictions for hot health topics in the media?

2015 will be a massive year for health stories. The upcoming May general election will mean that the NHS will take centre stage; the removal of many cancer treatments from the Cancer Drugs Fund in March will see a lot of access stories in the media; the ongoing Ebola crisis and vaccine development will be front of mind for many journalists; personalised health and what this means for the future of medicine; how wearable technology will have an impact on our health and wellbeing and the exciting medical advances resulting from collaborations between large organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society and leading British universities.

Jo Willey is the former Health Editor of the Daily Express and now runs her own media strategy and training consultancy, Jo Willey Media. She can be contacted at or on 07799065349.

Stay tuned for our next edition, you never know who you’ll hear from.

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