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ss triple helix - winter 2001,  Managing the Message: A tool kit for health service communicators (Book Review)

Managing the Message: A tool kit for health service communicators (Book Review)

Managing the Message: A tool kit for health service communicators - Roy Lilley and Geoffrey Bowden - Radcliffe Medical Press 2000 - £19.95 Pb 148 pp - ISBN 1 85775 412 3

This is a brilliant book. Both authors have spent many years working at the interface of medicine and the media, and their experience overflows onto every page. This is an easy to read manual that not only teaches the reader how to communicate more effectively, but is also a wonderful example in itself of how to get the message across.

Written in bite-size chunks with plenty of white space, question boxes, illustrations and charts, it is a joy to dip into. The topics covered range from broad issues such how the media works and how to organise message management, right down to the specifics of how to use a notice board most effectively. (They suggest never leaving a notice on it for more than ten days and moving the board around the place!). Handling radio and TV interviews, managing the media when things go wrong, producing an annual report, advertising, making a promotional video and appointing a communications consultant are all considered in a lively jargon-free style.

The book is very funny and is brimming with memorable quotes and aphorisms. The Harvey Thomas quote, 'If they haven't heard it, you haven't said it' is there, for example, but Lilley and Bowden have plenty of their own: 'You can't look humble in a bow tie! It looks like you spend your life at a party, or behind a glass of gin!'or 'Pioneers get arrows in their backsides'. 'All organisations big and small have communication needs. For some, word of mouth is enough. For others not even the word of God can be heard above the din of day to day.'

Any doctor will benefit from even a 30- minute skim through this book and it is a must for those whose jobs involve regular local or national media contact. Many church leaders would benefit from it too. Jesus was a brilliant communicator who captured the complete attention of his listeners yet the church is often dull and unimaginative in comparison. The word of God might be clearly heard above the din of day to day life if Christian communic-ators took some tips from this book.

Reviewed by
Trevor Stammers

Tutor in General Practice, St George's Hospital Medical School and a regular author and broadcaster on sexual health

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