What the Profession Really Needs
By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher
A recent survey conducted by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) asked more than 15,000 U.S. doctors of chiropractic about their priorities for the profession. The 22-question survey requested chiropractors' opinions on a wide range of topics.
Interestingly, the question that received the highest degree of agreement was, "Should the profession make the development of a national public relations campaign one of its highest priorities?"
That question received an importance rating of 4.34 among ACA members and 4.39 from nonmembers, out of a possible 5.0 rating. The topic receiving the next highest rating in terms of importance/interest received a rating of only 4.02. Another survey question that asked whether doctors would contribute to a national public relations campaign received a 3.88 rating out of a possible 5.0 - the fifth highest rating among the topics.
The answers to these two questions confirm what we all know: We need, want and are willing to pay for a national public relations campaign. And as we also know, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress is spearheading an ongoing campaign in that regard, one that involves two efforts to build a better understanding of the advantages of chiropractic care:
Advertising is the quickest and easiest way to get our message out. The foundation has strategically chosen print media that will reach our target audience. With a very limited budget, the foundation has been able to place all of its print advertising as remnant space for a fraction of the retail price. Here is a list of publications in which chiropractic ads have been placed thus far:
- Newsweek - more than 9 million total exposures spanning five issues (2006 and 2007 publication dates).
- Sports Illustrated - more than 1.1 million total exposures for two issues (2006).
- U.S. News & World Report - more than 6.5 million total exposures spanning five issues (2006 and 2007).
- Business Week - 950,000 subscribers for one issue (October 2006).
- The New York Times magazine - 1.7 million subscribers for one issue (December 2006).
- Health - 1.5 million subscribers for one issue (January 2007).
- Martha Stewart Living - 1.9 million subscribers for one issue (April 2007).
- Working Mothers - 825,000 subscribers for one issue (May 2007).
Still to come this year are placements in TV Guide (3.2 million subscribers in the September 2007 issue) and Health (1.5 million subscribers in the October 2007 issue). In addition, at the beginning of the year, the foundation placed two 30-second television commercials during the Ms. Fitness USA 2007 program. The commercials aired on multiple cable stations over the course of two months, reaching an estimated 150 million households.
The two good things about PR are that you don't have to buy the space (unlike advertising), and it can have more reader credibility than an advertisement. The hard part is getting the media to accept and place your press releases. With a great PR firm, the foundation is aggressively communicating the good news about chiropractic through a number of avenues:
- a public relations campaign issuing monthly positive press releases on chiropractic;
- monthly public service announcements (PSAs) to 2,500 radio stations;
- quarterly advertorials; and
- a media tour of the New York media market with spokesperson Sarah Harding-Traverso.
The profession is just beginning to see the fruits of this effort. Here and there, chiropractic is being included in short news articles. And since January 2007, the number of radio stations playing chiropractic PSAs has increased from 15 to more than 55, and that number continues to grow! The bulk of the cost for these advertising and public relations campaigns has come from the major chiropractic organizations, six chiropractic colleges, 21 chiropractic state associations, and a significant number of corporate sponsors.
The question is now one of sustaining these two efforts. This can only be accomplished through the support of individual doctors such as yourself. Thus far, more than 300 doctors of chiropractic have made a commitment to contribute monthly to these national advertising and public relations campaigns. We need 1,000 DCs to keep these campaigns running at a pace that will impact consumer thinking.
Can You Help?
The foundation's advertising and public relations campaign is the longest continuous campaign in the history of the chiropractic profession. Every dollar you donate will go directly to the advertising/public relations campaign. Please make a pledge and/or contribution to these efforts. All you have to do is visit the foundation Web site (www.foundation4cp.com) and click on "Make a Pledge/Donation." If you can, make a commitment to donate $100 per month. If that's too much, commit to $50 per month. Think of it as part of the marketing budget for your practice.
If we all do it, we can educate and inform consumers about the benefits of chiropractic care. Well-informed consumers will choose chiropractic care and make it part of their wellness regimen. They deserve our care, and we deserve to provide it.
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