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This Time It Will Happen

The goal of getting the profession to rally around a single idea or organization isn't a new one. When I first became involved with the profession in 1974, as the executive director of the California state board (which seems like 100 years ago), the profession had already gone through a number of attempts to come together as a single organization or behind a particular idea. Nothing much has changed since that time - and neither have the results.

Of course, there were a few months leading up to the Wilk decision (Wilk, et al., v AMA, et al.) during which the profession united behind the lawsuit against the American Medical Association. And there was the year of the chiropractic centennial (1995), when again, the profession came together for a few months, this time to celebrate the beginning of chiropractic. But nothing was sustained either time. There have been many efforts to bring the professional organizations together, without lasting success. The chiropractic legal action fund was successful - you can't underestimate that accomplishment of raising more than $8 million - but the level of support beyond American Chiropractic Association (ACA) members wasn't significant.

With that backdrop, the question is whether the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress will succeed when past efforts have failed. I think it will, for a number of reasons: First, the question is whether the time is right to bring together the profession in a public relations effort. The answer: absolutely! Managed care is hurting this profession like nothing else in its history. And while the number of new practitioners continues to grow, according to recent polls, the percentage of consumer participation is dismally small. No one will argue against promoting the profession, and now more than ever, the request from doctors in the field for such a campaign is strong. The demand clearly is there.

Is there an organization in place that can rally the profession behind a single plan, without resurrecting the usual internal fights that have strangled efforts in the past? The F4CP is a nonprofit corporation established by Kent S. Greenawalt in 2003. Over the past few years, he has succeeded in putting together a board comprising a real cross-section of the chiropractic profession and vendor community. It includes past officers of both the ACA and the International Chiropractors Association (ICA). It includes the publishers of the two most prominent chiropractic periodicals in the country, as well as some of the most successful vendors in the profession. I have been working with this board for six months and it is incredible how well its members work together.

To paraphrase my ol' buddy Bill Clinton, "It's the message, stupid." The board was smart when, after some false stops, it decided to focus its mission on increasing the public's awareness regarding the benefits of chiropractic care. The plan for implementation is practical. In July 2006, the F4CP started to advertise in the top national publications, including Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, featuring a testimonial from Sarah Harding, Ms. Fitness USA 2006. In September 2006, we expanded the plan. Each month through August 2007, a positive testimonial from a prominent chiropractic patient will be included in the full circulations and available on the newsstands of such publications as New York Times Magazine, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek. The latest testimonials are running in Health magazine and Newsweek.

The advertising campaign is complemented by CPR Communications, a well-known public relations agency whose job it is to generate positive press for the profession. The agency already has succeeded in generating interviews for Sarah Harding in a number of prominent publications, and it is anticipated that a personal tour (organized by CPR) of the New York media market by Sarah will be in progress by the time this article is published.

The testimonial of Sarah Harding is compelling. She is a woman of all seasons who combines beauty, brains and athleticism. As a young gymnast, she was told she would be facing surgery because of a back condition, but instead sought chiropractic care. The rest is history. Chiropractic care alleviated her condition and helped her obtain All-American status as a gymnast at Stanford University. Today, Sarah has a successful career as a professional choreographer, dancer and acrobatic performer in Las Vegas.

Testimonials from chiropractic patients such as Sarah tell the story that the consumer hasn't heard in any comprehensive way. By the way, it's a story that avoids the normal, internal debates that occurred in the past when efforts were made to determine the contents of a chiropractic advertisement.

The chiropractic media also is an important ingredient to any successful campaign, and the recent support from chiropractic publications is stronger than I have seen it on any other issue in my 30 years with this profession. Dynamic Chiropractic and Chiropractic Economics have provided free advertising space, as well as constant and strong editorials in support of the foundation. Other publications have weighed in to support the effort by providing free advertising space.

The goal of the F4CP is one that the entire profession is rallying behind, and its support continues to grow. The presidents of both the ICA and ACA have come out strongly in support of the effort. The ACA House of Delegates passed a motion urging its members to contribute and directed a contribution of up to $50,000. The Association of Chiropractic Colleges passed a resolution pledging $50,000 over the next three years and encouraging its institutional members to do the same. Individual chiropractic colleges also have contributed separately. More than 15 state associations already have voted to support the effort through their publications and contributions. They are working with us as partners, advertising locally to complement our national campaign.

The vendor community has entered the effort with a support not seen since the chiropractic centennial. Foot Levelers, NCMIC, Standard Process, Breakthrough Coaching, the Masters Circle and Pro Adjuster are just a few examples of the companies that have stepped forward in support of this effort.

Most important is the growing number of doctors in the field who have come forward to pledge a monthly contribution to the F4CP. At the recent Masters Circle SuperConference, 172 doctors pledged a total annual income of $90,000 for the FCP.

The foundation's board has made the pledge that every dollar contributed will go directly to the advertising/public relations campaign. Overhead costs are covered by a separate gift.

So, to answer the question of whether this is another flash-in-the-pan effort or a program that will succeed, I say it will succeed! There is no limit to the F4CP's possibilities. All the elements are there for a successful program. Will you be part of the effort? Join the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress today.

Contact Information:

The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress
P. O. Box 560
Carmichael, CA 95609-0560

Dynamic Chiropractic
Given the chance, would you serve as your state association's paid political lobbyist?

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