Use Spring Awareness Days as Outreach Opportunities Capitalize on calendar observances to raise awareness of your services and the professions. Spreading the Word
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Spreading the Word  |   February 01, 2017
Use Spring Awareness Days as Outreach Opportunities
Author Notes
  • Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager. apierson@asha.org
    Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager. apierson@asha.org×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word   |   February 01, 2017
Use Spring Awareness Days as Outreach Opportunities
The ASHA Leader, February 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.STW.22022017.np
The ASHA Leader, February 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.STW.22022017.np
Attracting media coverage of an issue presents more challenges than you might expect. Even when a particular speech and/or hearing topic relates to a large segment of the population and does grab media attention, many competing—and equally worthy—issues contend for limited space in newspapers, air time on television, podcasts, and other media platforms.
One key factor media to consider when selecting a story is timeliness—why this topic relates to readers/viewers now. Autism Speaks promotes its Light It Up Blue (#LIUB) autism awareness campaign, we talk about pegging your outreach to something in the news, such as the release of new data on the prevalence of communication disorders, for example. You can also link your pitch with awareness days, weeks or months.
A skeptic might argue that now a day exists for just about everything—some bordering on ridiculous—creating media fatigue for awareness days. There’s possibly some truth to this perception. However, in the overall scheme of these events, reporters generally view health observances in higher regard.
Think of how National Breast Cancer Awareness Month or National “Wear Red” Day for women’s heart health provides many opportunities for publicizing these issues. Also, traditional media offers just one way to garner attention. Social media is also an excellent way to disseminate information during such observances.
Recognizing the power in grassroots efforts, organizations (including ASHA) often create customizable deliverables to make outreach by individuals even easier, such as social media toolkits, templates for press releases and media advisories, and other resources that can be tailored to local media or one’s personal social media accounts.
If you want more people to know about communication disorders and appreciate the important work that you do, consider participating in one or more of these observances. The possibilities are endless, from writing an op-ed in your local newspaper, to hosting a screening or educational event for the public, to enlisting local government officials to get involved. Some prime opportunities in the next few months include:
World Hearing Day (March 3): Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Hearing Day promotes ear and hearing care on a global stage. The theme for 2017 is “Action for Hearing Loss: Make a Sound Investment.” ASHA created various social media assets following this year’s theme for members to easily download and share (link TK). It is a great way for all members, particularly audiologists, to showcase the value they provide.
Autism Awareness Month (April): Activities during April have skyrocketed in the past few years. For instance, Autism Speaks promotes its Light It Up Blue (#LIUB) autism awareness campaign, offering a Facebook profile picture filter and other ways to recognize the month. For speech-language pathologists who want to showcase their role in treating individuals with autism, this is an excellent occasion to do.
Better Hearing & Speech Month (May): BHSM has been recognized for longer than most of us have been around (since 1927, when it was National Hearing Week), but it is more relevant than ever today. For the third year, ASHA will be sponsoring the “Speaking Up For Communication” social media campaign/contest as one way to get involved. ASHA will create educational and eye-catching digital assets that members can share to raise awareness and also compete to win prizes. ASHA will also provide templates for a press release, media advisory, resolution/proclamation, and other documents; offer a line of for-sale products; create a free poster, coloring pages, and bookmarks to help members celebrate the month; and more. Rather than promoting one theme for the full month of May, ASHA will be spotlighting a different issue related to communication disorders each week. Visit www.asha.org/bhsm for the latest information.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other chances to use awareness days to reach out to media, including Aphasia Awareness Month (June), Apraxia Awareness Day (May 14), and Falls Prevention Awareness Day (September 22). If you are passionate about public education, an awareness day is a great place to start.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
February 2017
Volume 22, Issue 2