Like anything in life, it does no good to complain. If you want to change something in the world, you have to act. It’s not uncommon for dietitians to get upset when they see or hear someone other than a Registered Dietitian promoting nutrition. And, rightfully so.
We put in a lot of time and energy into obtaining our four-year degrees and completing an internship. We studied and sweated out the rigorous registration exam. We seek and obtain 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years. Many dietitians have gone on to obtain a Master’s or PhD or additional credentialing in pediatrics, renal nutrition or nutrition support. And yet, the personal trainers, yogis and chiropractors are on the morning news again talking about fiber. We must step up if we want to be seen as the experts and have consumers seek out our advice!
How do we do that?
For starters, take a good hard look at what you do. We each have an individual voice and likely a nutrition niche we can share. What is your specialty and passion? What you do best and what topics are you most comfortable sharing? Be authentic. Share your experience and knowledge. The media loves current stories and prefers credible sources of information, especially when it comes to nutrition and health.
Before you dive into a TV segment, Melissa Mitri, MS, RD of Melissa Mitri Nutrition in Milford Ct suggests volunteering in PR at your local or state academy. Get experience talking in front of other people. This may make you more comfortable talking on camera.
Read the news. What’s trending in the world of nutrition? What are your friends, family or coworkers talking about? What fruits, vegetables or other foods are in season? There are a million different timely nutrition topics that can be presented on the news.
Who and how to pitch:
Amy Reed, MS, RD of Amy Reed Nutrition in Cincinnati Oh suggests leveraging your contacts. She knew a videographer that worked for a local station and he knew who to get her idea to. You can also do a search for contacts online using the web page of your favorite station, Linked In, Facebook or Twitter.
Send an email to the producer. Introduce yourself and suggest a timely segment based on the latest nutrition trends or an upcoming health month. For example, send a request in January to be a guest speaking about heart health in February. Producers love to have segments lined up ahead of time. Send 3 clear talking points with a catchy title. If you’re talking about heart health tips, try “3 top tips for optimal heart health” as your hook.
Once you get the segment, Amy Reed advises to, “Practice, practice and practice some more. Watch other RDs do segments and be your best professional self. After the first segment, be ready with the next idea to pitch to the booking agent in person”.
Benefits to the RD:
One benefit to RDs doing media segments is to reach more people and educate the public about who we are and what we do. Being on TV will improve the reputation and visibility of dietitians as the nutrition expert. Whether you’ve got a small business or just want to avoid feeling annoyed when a non-credentialed person is providing nutrition information, being on the news elevates our profession. In addition, RDs will improve their speaking skills by doing media segments. You’ll learn to speak in short, intentional sound bites to attract more people into the topic you want to present.
Once you’ve done a segment or two, don’t forget to showcase them. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the NYC area advises placing your media clips on your website or social media pages that are easy to find and see. You may want to consider separating out your media clips into broadcast clips so that anyone looking at your website can easily see the media work that you've recently done. This may hopefully lead to more work and segments!