Making an Impact through Information
Consumer tools developed for members to share with their patients are an effective way to promote the benefits of physical activity. Providing members with downloadable and customizable consumer handouts on topics related to physical activity is an efficient, cost-effective way to help members get the word out in their communities. Handouts that we have developed include topics like physical activity tips for families, foot health for runners, physical therapy and diabetes, and how to avoid a variety of sports-related injuries.
Because many people rely on the Internet for their health information and millions are on Facebook and Twitter, it can be a good idea to use social media as part of your outreach. Social media can take a variety of forms such as videos, tweets, and Facebook posts. We have developed a library of YouTube videos related to physical activity-related topics, such as ACL Injury Prevention; Activities for Kids of All Abilities; Bike Fit; Exercise Techniques (nine series); Exercise for People with Disabilities; Fitness as You Age; Good Health Tips for Runners: Maintaining Physical Activity Across the Lifespan; and Running Tips and Walking Tips. These and our other social media properties are housed on our consumer website, www.moveforwardpt.com.
Video: "Activities for Kids of All Abilities" (Click to play)
Video: "Strength Training Tips from a Physical Therapist" (Click to play)
Tweeting several times a day on topics relevant to consumers can help you develop a following on a Twitter. Hosting tweet chats where members engage with followers on particular topics can also be an effective way to reach consumers. Our tweet chat topics have included toys for children with disabilities, obesity prevention and management, and foot health for runners. It is also possible to videotape live discussions and stream them via the Internet. This year we hosted our first "livestream" event, "Fit for Life," featuring baby boomer physical therapists discussing how they incorporate physical activity into their lives and the lives of their families.
News releases continue to be an effective way to reach the media. Releases we have issued on the importance of physical activity include "New Dietary Guidelines Highlight Importance of Physical Activity" and "Physical Therapists Help You Get Fit - Safely - in 2011."
Making an Impact through Awareness
An organization's national awareness week or month can be used to deliver a targeted, cohesive message in a way that may not otherwise be possible. Tools may be developed that encourage interaction between members and their patients, or clients and traditional PR strategies may be supplemented by social media during this coordinated effort. In 2010, National Physical Therapy Month was dedicated to the importance of physical activity in preventing obesity, and its consequences. We supported our efforts with social media and developed a downloadable board game for members to use with their patients.
Collaborating with related organizations is another way to extend your impact. For instance, APTA collaborated with the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition on a brochure entitled, Be Active, Be Fit: Beginning and Maintaining a Physical Activity Program.
What resources and programs have you developed to help your members promote physical activity in their communities?