Anita Brikman

623: Trade association CEO draws on 20 years of broadcast experience

The jump from broadcast news to running a communications team isn’t quite as far as some might expect; in fact, it’s one Anita Brikman made 10 years ago and she’s never looked back. 

As Brikman was finishing up a television contract, she decided to venture outside the journalism career she’d always loved.

“I was fortunate to be in Washington, where there is a hub of nonprofits and associations, these groups there not to make a profit but to represent certain industries or causes or medical societies. I looked at that arena and thought, I have covered medicine for so long, I can make an impact running a communications team and still have a mission-driven purpose,” says Brikman, now president and CEO of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, a multinational trade publication focused on plasma donation and plasma-derived medicine for people with blood disorders and other medical needs. 

As a reporter, Brikman developed a specialty in covering health and medicine-related topics, spending a great deal of time working with hospitals and research facilities during 14 years in Philadelphia before becoming a health editor at the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC.

Brikman asked herself whether her skills from journalism could translate to the nonprofit and communications worlds. Her first job outside a two-decade career being in front of the camera was with a national hospice and palliative care organization.

“It’s a tough story — no one wants to think about end of life — but there were such compelling stories to tell about the care people receive and how a team of professionals can help take care of (patients) and their families near end of life,” she says. “Then I transitioned to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which deals with over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, self care. I became their spokesperson, not just running communications for the association but leading an educational foundation dedicated to medicine safety, preventing accidental ingestions in children. It was a great decision for me but it was tough. Any of us, when we go into journalism, it’s not just a job, it’s a passion.” 

The skills needed for journalism and the skills needed for nonprofit communications, or a communications job in general, are very much the same, Brikman says. 

“You’re looking for excellent writing skills and the ability to adapt to different audiences and levels of complexity in what we’re writing. That’s something journalists are always very good at. You’re looking for avid learners. This is a highly-regulated space and it’s complicated. The (plasma) donation process, going through the manufacturing process, how these medicines are made, what are the medical indications for them. You have to have accurate writers. You have to desire to be an avid learner and take a deep dive in whatever your topic is,” she says. “How do these individuals interact with member companies? They all have highly talented comms teams of their own. We have a working group that meets once a month and the team prepares a lot. Do they have the aptitude for handling crisis comms? Eventually there will be a crisis or bad media and you’re going to have to deal with it. I think former journalists make great comms people.” 

Anita Brikman uses the same skills she mastered from working 20 years as broadcast journalist, news anchor and health reporter in her current role as the CEO of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association.

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

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