What do you do?
I’m a health communication consultant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I’ve been with the CDC for nearly four years working in various capacities around emergency and risk communications and health marketing and promotion. Currently, my primary role is establishing external relationships with websites to promote CDC’s health and safety messages. This effort allows CDC to extend the reach of its health messages in ways it would otherwise be unable to do. Our motto is to reach the people where they are and anyway we can. If you receive your health info via Google search, then we want to make sure that CDC’s health messages are prominent in your search results. If you like going to WebMD, CDC has subject matter experts on there who can give you the latest CDC recommendations. Currently we are looking for way to expand in the mobile world by making CDC.gov a mobile-ready site and through developing various mobile apps with CDC health messages.
How did you get your job?
After graduating from Mizzou in 2003 I knew that I wanted do specialized reporting. Back then, the notion of niche reporting was not popular, and I didn’t have much support or encouragement from my professors or friends. I was told to just get out there and start reporting. While that advice may work in other areas of niche reporting, covering health and the health care delivery system is more complex and requires some knowledge and training in that area. So, I went to grad school at Emory University and got my master’s in public health policy and management. I developed relationships in grad school that led to receiving a phone call from a woman at the CDC who said, “I heard about your experience in journalism and public health, and I would like to interview you.” That was the first job I got that I didn’t have to apply for!
What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
I learned that I was a better writer than a TV personality. One of my favorite professors, Judy Bolch, encouraged me to switch from broadcast to print because she believed in my writing abilities. I didn’t switch but my passion for writing lives on!
What advice do you have for current students?
Be bold and take risks. If something drives you, don’t ignore it. The new digital landscape is ripe for risk taking. Also, know that people more experienced than you typically want to lend a helping hand, but you have to do the work of following up with them and keeping them posted on your progress.
What is your favorite J-School memory?
This will sound odd but my fondest memory was sleeping on the couch waiting to speak to my adviser in Neff Hall.
Any parting comments?
If there are any current students who are interested in public health and covering health news, I’m here to answer any questions. Follow me on Twitter for health updates: @reynalinares.