July 29, 2022 | Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

3 Minute Read

What’s News? Establishing Relevance Key in Telling the Story of Rehab Therapy

Private practice rehab therapists – physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists are natural educators. And, the communities within which they live and work are virtual classrooms filled with eager students.

These students are citizens of all ages and backgrounds who care about issues such as health care, injury prevention, maintaining long-term independence, lifestyle enhancement and exercise.

But as any seasoned educator would tell you, one of their greatest challenges is simply getting through to their students, making a connection that’s meaningful, credible and loud.

In the world of rehab therapy marketing, this often means leaning on one of your greatest communication tools: your local media.

Local Media is Your Megaphone for Storytelling

I’ve said it before and you’ll hear us say it again – all private practice rehab therapists owe it to themselves to include a consistent media relations effort as part of their overall marketing strategy. You have information, ideas, stories, and a need to educate, and the local press holds the key to a wide and eager community audience.

You just have to convince them to open the door. The password: relevance.

As a rehab therapist, there’s seemingly no limit to the ideas and stories you can glean from your years of education, experience and success. To get these thoughts amplified throughout your local press, however, you have to show your ideas are relevant to a general audience.

In other words, why is your idea an important one right now? Who does your topic affect in your community? How does your story position PT, OT or SLP as a solution?

In press speak, what makes your topic or story newsworthy?

To best answer these questions – and to vastly improve the effectiveness of your media strategy – it often pays to think like a journalist. And according to journalists, here are the factors that determine the newsworthiness of a story:

Be Timely

OK, so most health or wellness-based topics can seem timeless, but why should people care about a particular topic or story right now? Does it relate to the season? Is it trending in the world of social media?

Why is it important to tell this story today and not in six months?

Show Significance

Who’s affected by your story or topic? Is it one person, a handful of people, or can it affect the entire community?

Establish your story as relevant to a wide audience. You can do this anecdotally, but always try to back it up with facts and statistics.

Consider Proximity

What makes a topic or story important to people in your community?

Establish proximity by bridging the gap between the topic and the people around you. If, for instance, a new study comes out about overuse injuries in youth athletes, tie in the popularity of youth sports in your community.

Make It Prominent

Is your story part of something larger, perhaps a trending story that ties your community into a greater conversation? Explain the connection to enhance the timeliness of your topic.

Establish Human Interest

People love to read and hear inspiring stories about other people – about struggles, overcoming hurdles, finding success, and so on. Always tell “people stories” (e.g., patient success stories) that serve a greater purpose or point about physical therapy, treatments, exercise, movement, etc.

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