A former BBC director of current affairs programmes, Tam Fry’s new key role as the honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation is to be a spokesman on behalf of all news coverage relating to child growth. “I have to be there when the media want me and respond to questions about the story as best and accurately as I can,” he says.
Tam Fry, who is also a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, notes that the number of media requests he receives has surged over the last 15 years, as awareness of child health issues like child growth and childhood obesity have increased substantially along with the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle.
Foundation Stays Educated on Child Health Updates With Global Media Monitoring
Tam uses Meltwater to keep abreast of the latest news on these issues from around the globe, – a global media intelligence service he has subscribed to for over six years. The media monitoring service offers him realtime access to the latest breaking news worldwide and can be customised to search for the proverbial needle in the haystack for whatever subjects he chooses.
With Tam’s global media monitoring strategy in place, he is able to stay on top of specialist medical journals as well as the mainstream media, as virtually every media outlet around the world is interested in covering child health issues like child obesity. “Childhood obesity is proven as a substantial trigger for heart disease later on in life and that is why there is so much interest in the issue. It has reached epidemic proportions and for that reason not a day passes without there being a story related to the problem,” says Tam.
“Today, for example, I was speaking to a radio reporter about new research which shows a link between junk food and the furring up of arteries. Obesity is a problem across the developed world, so stories may not originate in the UK and reporters pick research from absolutely everywhere.”
Tam Fry and the Child Growth Foundation need to know all new developments globally about these difficult health issues to support the goals of the organization. “Our aim is to be a one-stop shop for all media in search of expert comment about child growth issues and for that I need to know about important developments from across the world as soon as they happen,” he adds.
Being Well-Informed and Ready For Interviews Any Time
To fit in with news schedules, Tam’s day starts early and his first port of call is his PC in order to access his latest news report.
“Most days I’m up at four o’clock and straight into looking at Meltwater’s e-mailed summary of relevant items off the web,” he says. “This allows me to be ready to respond to media requests by six o’clock – I might be called by news reporters, radio journalists or researchers from breakfast television.”
“When you are doing live interviews it’s important you are well-informed. They want to talk to an authoritative body who knows about the latest developments and through Meltwater I have usually been able to read about it before and do some preparatory work,” continues Tam.
Tam says on busy days he might get over 300 items from around the world, all written in English, sent through on his daily global media monitoring. His approach is to scan through the headlines making notes on the items of interest, filing some away for reading later on and highlighting others that require immediate attention and further online research if necessary.
Raising the Global Profile of Child Health Issues
In addition to talking to journalists from the UK, Tam is also regularly contacted by reporters from Europe and the US interested in talking to him about UK initiatives or reports that cover the wider European or OECD regions. For this reason it is very important that he has access to the relevant child growth and obesity news, from studies to new treatments, from all around the world.
This information is also extremely important in terms of the opportunities it provides for raising the profile of the organisations he works for and the medical conditions he hopes to spread awareness of.
“The value of Meltwater to our organisation can’t be quantified. It is priceless in terms of the ability it gives us to be an authority on child growth disorders and maintain our high profile in the media. Being without the service would be like losing an arm.”
He adds: “We could spend twice as much employing PR agencies to promote our work and not get half as much coverage as we do using Meltwater.”
About Child Growth Foundation
Founded in 1977, the Child Growth Foundation (CGF) is an independent charity set up to support children, families of children and adults with growth related problems, as well as educate the public about these disorders and fund research into possible solutions.
The training of doctors, nurses and health visitors has become a significant activity for the CGF, together with the publication of many papers in medical journals. In more recent times, the new challenge of childhood obesity has emerged and the CGF has become a powerful force relating to the awareness and control of this growing problem.