The most common advice handed out when it comes to blogging is, “Blog about something you know and are passionate about.” That’s great advice, as your passion will continue to provide you with a wide range of topics to write about, while your knowledge in the field will give your posts the authority that readers expect, and that combination will result in attracting a steady stream of new readers.
But no matter how smart you are, how much you know, or how much time you spend researching, there are times when you want to write about a subject that is unfamiliar to you, or involves remote locations that you can’t visit in order to gain firsthand experience.
When I started the Global Patriot blog I knew this would be the case more often than not, as the topics which interested me covered everything from human rights, hunger, poverty and violence, to helping the environment and health care. I knew a fair amount about each of these topics from news reports and documentaries, and there’s a wealth of information online, but in some cases that wasn’t enough.
While many medical disciplines reside in the laboratory, the true end goal is about treating people, and this is never more true than when medical teams are called upon to save lives inside conflict zones. In these situations, nothing can substitute for the experience of someone who was actually there.
I didn’t work for Doctors Without Borders, wasn’t a trained doctor or nurse, and had never visited DRC. What I did have, however, was a passion to write about the topic, and a reputation at Global Patriot for blogging about issues affecting people around the world who were in need of medical aid. So when I reached out to the Director of Communications at DWB, he was very supportive of this project and opened doors to internal resources who could provide me with the human experience I was looking for.
Besides speaking with members of the New York communications team, they arranged an interview with one of their logistics experts who had recently returned from a 14 month assignment in DRC. His experiences on the ground, coordinating the construction of their medical facilities, proved invaluable. These were insights I could have never obtained through published or internet research alone.
We all know that accuracy is critical when it comes to MedBlogging, but writing these articles carried with it an additional responsibility. In order to be successful, DWB must maintain a position of neutrality when operating in conflict zones. If anything they say or do is construed as taking sides, their mission may be jeopardized. That factor required me to have all posts reviewed and edited before publication.
So if you find yourself in a similar situation, wanting to write about a medical topic that’s beyond your own sphere of knowledge, you may want to follow my version of the 3 R’s:
- Research – do your homework first to understand the topic as best you can
- Reach Out – contact industry experts to obtain firsthand experience and expertise
- Review – allow the experts to review your writing for overall messaging and accuracy
Doing so will surely enhance the fourth R in the blogging equation – your Reputation!