Lesley Swiger, media relations specialist at the George Washington University (GW), is a font of valuable health knowledge. She knows the practical ins-and-outs of the human body – she has a master’s degree in exercise science and wellness programming – and she has a passion for communication. Those strengths, coupled with a media professional’s intuition and imagination, make her the ideal liaison between experts and the media. Here, she provides key takeaways for working with reporters.
What is your role at GW, and what does it entail?
Swiger: I am the media relations specialist for the GW Medical Faculty Associates and the GW School of Medicine Health Sciences, the GW School of Nursing, and the Milken Institute School of Public Health. I work to garner media attention for our physicians, researchers, and faculty members.
Can you tell us about your background? How did you get started at GW?
Swiger: I went to American University for public relations and strategic communications with a focus in health. All of my internships and work experience focused on health care communications in some capacity. After I graduated, I started at a large PR agency in the health care department, which is where I found an interest in the media relations aspect of this field. I always had an interest in working more on the clinical and research side of the healthcare space, so GW seemed like a good fit.
What should MFA employees know about working with the media?
Swiger: I think one of the most important things MFA employees should know about working with the media is that reporters are just doing their jobs, and they want to write accurate and fair articles. There is a misconception that reporters often ask “gotcha questions.”
Our central communications team is available to answer any questions you have, provide media training, and help you develop your messaging. If you have interest in doing interviews, please feel free to email me!
What’s the best way for MFA employees to reach out to you?
What excites or inspires you the most about your job?
Swiger: Knowing that when people read an article it can help them learn more about a certain disease or inspire them to see a doctor and get the care they need.
It is also really fun to work one-on-one with clinicians and researchers; they always have such important stories to tell, and being able to help facilitate these stories and share them is very fulfilling.
Anything you’d like to add?
Swiger: Talking to a reporter can feel very intimidating, but it is always good to remember that they are people too and they want their stories to be accurate and fair. Often, reporters reach out because they want that expert opinion or insight into a topic. They really value speaking with our experts and forming relationships for future opportunities.