I wanted to take you behind the scenes of Patient Power and, for that matter, journalism.

Talk show hosts and journalists get deluged with press releases and emails from public relations people. They always have a client that wants exposure. Typically a good news release will pitch a guest where there's a good reason to feature them. But you'd be amazed the ridiculous pitches we receive and it's obvious the author never looked at our website to see what we do. Guess what? We disregard pitches from those PR people in the future because they have proved to be "clueless" and wasted our time.

Then there's the most polished PR people. These come from the major PR firms. These are the folks who chat with reporters at the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal. To them, Patient Power is a small opportunity. Hopefully, you will agree they are wrong!

For the benefit of PR people who would like to help us inform patients, and to entertain you, I wanted to share a recent PR boo boo:

I wanted to do a program on a serious health condition, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and feature a top medical expert and Melanie Bloom, the wife of an NBC correspondent who died from DVT. Medical society PR people put us in touch with the medical expert, Dr. Andrew Schafer from Cornell in New York, and we lined him up for a live program. They also put us in touch with the PR people for Melanie Bloom. We were surprised she even had PR people, after all, she's a widow speaking out on a health issue, not a company right? It turns out Melanie is tied to a "DVT Coalition" that is funded by a pharma company. That doesn't make it bad and it may be a great initiative. But what happened is, despite our repeated efforts, we couldn't get Melanie booked for the show with Dr. Schafer. The big PR firm just never responded and eventually said she was too busy. The end result was we did the show without her and the DVT Coalition didn't get as much exposure as it would have had Melanie been a guest.

Curiously, the PR firm told our producer they'd love to have Melanie on at another time by herself.

So here's the boo boo. I think it was that sole exposure they wanted to begin with and when they couldn't get it they opted out. Who lost? The PR firm and their client. Not us or you, since the program was terrific without Melanie.

So, to our PR friends: Patient Power is totally motivated by doing what is right for patients. If your client's interests and a proposed guest line up with this, great. We'll consider them. But our content is "squeaky clean" and patients can rely on its credibility.

Don't get me wrong: PR professionals can help any journalist do their job. But when they try to control media exposure we say "Sayonara."

If you have comments on this I'd love to hear from you!

Andrew