World Breastfeeding Week brought about wonderful opportunities to engage with our communities about the incredible impact of breastfeeding. This is one IBCLCs account of her thought process as she navigated doing a live, on-air television interview.
By Denise Altman, RN, IBCLC, LCCE
One day last week, after seeing my patients, I checked my messages and listened to one from a reporter wanting to ask me some questions about World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). My knee jerk reaction was either to not return the call-I had been at the beach for a week and was woefully behind-or hand her off to another IBCLC practicing in a pediatric office. However, I just don’t have it in me to pass up a marketing opportunity, so I called her back.
She sounded young, and was calling about WBW in general but she also wanted to know what exactly I do. She didn’t know much about the Affordable Healthcare Act but knew that there were parts that addressed breastfeeding . She wanted help with a story angle and maybe a live interview.
Story angle? Role of the lactation consultant? Oh yeah, this is worth pursuing.
I spent about ten minutes just talking, and hit her with enough stuff to get her excited. I
then added the suggestion of also having mama and baby on camera. Sold! She wanted a
live remote tomorrow morning at 7:30am. She had to confirm with her producer and I had to figure out how to mange this new activity on a full schedule, so we decided to touch base by phone at the end of the day.
After hanging up, I started thinking….who do I want?
I need a working mama who looks professional but not too “businessey”. Nice round happy baby who is easy going. Both available at short notice. Mama is willing to be primed and focused but can articulate well without script.
Wait a minute! I have a speech therapist in my patient population (this is why I always ask what people do for a living)! I remembered how she communicates, that she works with kids and understands the science as well as the parent perspective. Score!
Next, I have to decide on my two key points (one for each hand). This is my focus for every interview question so I stay on track.
Breastfeeding is Normal.
IBCLC are the Experts.
In between the mental gyrations, I have to do a home visit to see a mama, and of course, line up my on camera mama and consider back up. I emailed the reporter resources from the ILCA website such as What is an IBCLC?, How IBCLCs Make a Difference, and 10 More Reasons to Breastfeed. There is a ton of support materials already created and the added benefit is that the reporter knows then where to go for future stories or additional info. I also suggested live remote from chiropractor’s office where I do classes-it’s a thank you to the doc, plus the space is soothing and quiet, rather than a busy, cold newsroom. I sent a short list of common myths (along with truth statements) and recommended this as the focus of the interview.
Finally, I rearranged my patient schedule for the next morning. Then, I sent a “heads up”
on my personal social media outlets. I think I have done as much as I can, but there must
be something more.
Can I make this opportunity go further?
Once I called the reporter again about the final details, and then suggested that she
continue coverage for the full week. Then I pitched three additional story ideas with
- A local NICU (the first or only in the state?) that has started using donor milk that has previously had an unheard of necrotizing enterocolitis rate.
- Healthy Carolina’s Lactation Program, which is helping to institute corporate lactation wellness program within our local university.
- Local Big Latch On event which could highlight lots of nursing mamas and babes in one handy spot.
After then phone call, I then gave various organizational contacts a heads up that TV reporter may call. Not only could they get positive exposure for breastfeeding support, but
is a great way to build or strengthen community relationships.
The night before, I didn’t sleep very well. I hate doing stuff on TV because my double chin always shows, and I tend to talk fast when I get excited about a topic. I decided to channel Leigh Anne O’Connor, who many private practice IBCLCs would vote “Most Likely To Get Her Own TV Show”! She is an IBCLC in New York who often appears in TV and radio spots. She always appears very calm and focused (maybe its her acting background).
In the morning, the reporter tells me that the producer has given not one, but two segments due to all of the good information she presented! I dressed carefully, trying to look both professional and approachable, wearing a pressed blouse with my business logo on it. When the mama arrived, we quickly discussed the focus for her-normal, working mother, benefits from professional standpoint as well as family focus. She nailed all of it, and the baby was so cute reaching for the mic, that I was hard pressed not to laugh through the whole thing. In my head, I repeated “Normal and IBCLC”.
As she was packing up, the young reporter told me she is one of 12 kids, all breastfed.
When she called home the previous night and shared what she was covering and why, her
mama told her she was proud of her for doing this kind of story.
The world is round.
Because of a call that I didn’t want to return, and a TV appearance I didn’t want to do,
breastfeeding support had a good day in South Carolina.
Denise Altman is a private practice LC in Columbia, South Carolina, USA, and author of two textbooks for healthcare professionals; “History and Assessment: Its All in the Details” and “Mentoring Our Future“. A frequent conference speaker, she enjoys sharing topics and stories “from the trenches”. Her professional picture has been photo shopped to remove her double chin. You can reach Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org.