Report EUROCHIP 2 Final report

As health professionals, you develop a vocabulary and a method of working that allows you to communicate with other professionals effectively and without misunderstandings. Your communication is often nuanced, based on explaining risk and uncertainty. As media professionals, journalists have skills in communicating with the public which are based on the principles of simplicity and public interest. Journalists seek clarity, certainties and to some extent controversy.

As experts in your field, you have data with implications that the public and policy makers need to understand. The media provides the fastest and broadest avenue to reach these audiences so that your data can improve public awareness and policy decision making. To use the media effectively, you need to turn data into narrative – to tell a story. You also need some understanding of the way that journalists think and work. This guide will help you to do this and to approach the media and journalists with confidence.

You have different agendas – but they are compatible agendas. Journalists will ask questions that they or their editors or producers find interesting. They are especially interested in data on mortality and survival (although they may not fully understand the difference). These may not be the questions you would like them to ask. However, part of your role is to be able to guide non-experts on how to read and interpret data. Media, policy makers and public have difficulty in interpreting figures and need them to be explained clearly.

Indeed, one can argue that as cancer registries are funded with public money there is a duty to explain the data that is so carefully collected. If you are proactive and you prepare, you can set the agenda for this dialogue on your terms. This pack gives you guidance on how to respond to media requests for information or interview, how to prepare a press release and how to make the most of an interview when you do one.

The preparation described here is also useful if you are preparing to make a presentation to policy makers or to interested groups. Making sense of data, helping people to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and turning figures into a credible narrative are skills that can be universally applied. Those who take the next step and actively encourage media interest can open a path to the public understanding of health and cancer issues. By making the population more literate about health, you will help them to understand the meaning behind data on incidence, mortality and survival.