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A definitive guide to handling the media

Aimed at healthcare professionals who want to communicate with and handle the media effectively.

Cover of ‘Handling the media: communications skills for healthcare professionals’

‘Handling the media: communications skills for healthcare professionals’, by John Illman. Pp 184 £14.99. London: JIC Books; 2016. ISBN 978 0 9935178 0 8

This book provides valuable and comprehensive advice for any healthcare professional who wants to make their dealings with the media as effective and satisfying as possible. But it also explains why health stories are presented as they are, putting journalists’ translation of these issues into context.

Author John Illman is now a media and presentation skills presenter and communications consultant, but his years of experience writing for and editing national newspapers and professional and trade medical publications make him one of the best-qualified individuals to write on this subject. His wealth of real-life examples and anecdotes bring important points to life as he explains topics, such as what makes the news, how to make an impression via different media, and different types of interview.

As one might expect from a journalist, the content is presented clearly, succinctly and is interesting to read. Page layout and design is also extremely clear, with text presented in bite-sized chunks. The occasional cartoon and photograph help to make for an easy read.

The 12 chapters are summarised in the introduction, and cover topics including: ‘Responding to a media interview request’, ‘Social media and blogging’ and ‘Writing for the media’. In a nutshell, their overarching message is that, with a few simple skills and a basic understanding of the workings of the media, most healthcare professionals need not fear journalists and can communicate effectively.

A summary of key points at the end of each chapter is a useful check that nothing has been missed, as well as perhaps serving as a quick memory jogger minutes before that big interview or presentation. References are given at the end of each chapter for those who want to explore the subject in greater depth.

This 184-page paperback book is the probably the only one you will ever need on this subject, and is good value at £14.99. It is only available online from

Steve Bremer

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201541

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