We kick off a new Associations, Media & Publishing Network feature with Mario Boone, media relations specialist for the American Physiological Society. He came to APS after many years as a TV reporter for stations in Connecticut, North Carolina and Florida to name some.
What are your main responsibilities at APS?
I handle all things press related here, writing releases, pitching stories, etc. There are also extra duties that I’ve picked up along the way, like video editing for new projects where we might incorporate a video interview—something that wasn’t being done before I arrived—and highlighting research. I also help to build our email lists of media professionals when we’re sending information out so we can target where it goes. It’s a lot of pitching stories to our local and national media about some of the research that we’re all a part of.
Can you explain a little more how that outreach works?
Every month we put out a list of APS select research articles. Those are our best of the best. And we have a team of people who review and select the best APS articles, then we do video interviews with the authors of those particular research papers and articles—putting those out as part of the digital press release package. Then, we’ll decide which of those articles have the broadest appeal to the general public—and which articles people will find most interesting to write about, read or watch on TV. Those will also have a video component.
Did your experience in front of the camera and behind the scenes at TV stations have a lot to do with your being hired?
I believe so. Stacy Brooks [APS marketing and communications director and editor in chief of The Physiologist Magazine] told me that was the reason—I don’t think she used the term took a chance, but that’s how I saw it when she brought me on board. Because my background was not in science, but in TV and interviewing. And all of those other experiences I had that could really help them move their media relations machinery to the next level—which it has. They wanted to play off the skills that I bring to bear from a TV news perspective to promote us here.
How have you adapted to being a “science person”?
It’s better in some ways that I don’t talk in that science language because I can help lay people understand it. When you’re not inside that bubble, people understand that you have to drop the jargon of the industry—any industry—and just talk in plain speak. So that’s what I’m able to do. Though it has been a steep learning curve, it’s been fun and interesting because we’re learning physiology—so it’s all about the body and health, which is the backbone of all science really. Being able to learn this can really help you, especially when you’re talking about stuff like renal disease, kidney trouble, diabetes—all of those things permeate through my family. I’m learning how I can alter my behavior to avoid some of those problems.
I read this one blog post you wrote about DEI problems in U.S. research and clinical trials. It was really powerful. “A serious effort to recognize and tackle these issues head-on is necessary to bring about meaningful change.”
Something that we’re really pushing right now is to expand our diversity. I am always looking for that element when I’m trying to figure out what to write about, who to talk to, and what subjects we’re going to research and highlight—things of that nature.