I’m not much of a Hollywood worshiper or follower of celebrity exploits, so I wasn’t tuned in to the Oscars the other night to witness the flap that ensued toward the end.
But I heard about it, and likely so did you.
News of the mishap as well as video of the moment were splashed across social media feeds around the world, as were memes commemorating (read, “making fun of”) the blunder. However, if you weren’t plugged in, here’s what happened:
While announcing the final award of the night, the Academy Award for Best Picture, the celebrity presenters called out the name of one movie (“La La Land”) while the award had actually been won by another movie (“Moonlight”). “La La Land” producers had already given acceptance speeches before the error was finally corrected.
“This is not a joke,” one man said into the microphone, to which the “La La Land” team likely begged to differ. It’s one thing to lose; it’s another thing entirely to feel the rush of winning, only to discover it was all a big mistake. The video is a mish-mash of astonishment and confusion:
That brings me to physical therapy … albeit in a roundabout way.
Though it isn’t delivered with same the pomp and circumstance as the Oscars, health news is incredibly popular these days as consumers seek empowerment, value and solutions to issues that are holding them back.
And many of the “Best Picture” type stories dominating health news right now have direct connections with physical therapy, such as those related to chronic pain, opiate use, healthful aging, choice, and lowering health care costs.
Yet, so often when we click the links and follow the coverage of such topics, fully expecting (or hoping) to see the PT profession included as part of the narrative, we end up disappointed. We see perspectives from physicians, chiropractors, athletic trainers, naturopaths, etc., with nary a physical therapist in sight.
“This is not a joke,” you think to yourself as you scoff and skim through the article again … just to be sure.
As physical therapists, you know and understand the value of your profession and its effect on people’s lives. Such successes can’t help but make you feel as if you’re winning as a profession. And yet, incomplete news coverage serves as a reminder you may have been wrong on one big assumption: this value is fully understood in the moonlight of the mainstream.
It’s a good reminder, really … and a great motivator!
See, I believe in turning lemons into lemonade, and with a little motivation and an opportunistic spirit, we all have the tools to set the record straight – to tell the whole story about physical therapy’s role in the world.
Get It on Social Media
“Great story about lower back pain,” you might think, “but why would I share it if it doesn’t mention physical therapy?”
I’ll tell you why: because this is your opportunity to calibrate the narrative, then place physical therapy firmly in the middle of the story.
You should never post a link to Facebook, or any social media platform, without also providing your own context. Why is this news important to your clients, and what’s missing from the story?
Be the voice that the writer overlooked when researching the story. Make physical therapy the headline, not the missing piece.
Share with Your Clients
Keep in mind that your clients (current and past) are news consumers just like you. So many of the health care topics that are on your mind or also on theirs.
So make sure physical therapy remains closely aligned to relevant topics they’re likely to hear about. Remember this as you’re considering sharing topics and stories with clients, whether you do this through email newsletters, print collateral, or on your blog.
If opiates are in the news this month, talk about how PT and exercise can be more effective in treating pain. If health care costs are a big topic (when aren’t they?), point out how seeing a physical therapist first can, under the right circumstances, reduce long-term costs.
So many read health news and wonder, “What does that mean to me?” Be the thought leader who tells them!
Educate Your Media
So many efforts start at the grassroots level, and so should your educational efforts as a physical therapist.
Like many topics and professions that are research-based, there no doubt exist a number of misunderstandings about the physical therapy profession and how PTs can improve people’s lives. If your goal is to improve the general understanding of PT and the power of movement, there’s no better place to start than with your local media.
Defined as any entity with a ready-made audience – newspapers, TV and radio as well as bloggers, service organizations and clubs – educating those who disseminate the news to large audiences can take you far in ensuring physical therapy becomes a more integral part of the narratives built important healthcare topics.
To do this requires a consistent media relations effort that includes consistently distributing story ideas and press releases … perhaps even an op-ed/guest column submission if the error was especially egregious.
Physical therapists can collectively serve as a valuable check on the media as covers health both locally and nationally. It’s not as much about holding them accountable as it is about educating those who educate the public.
After all, an educated healthcare consumer is most likely to seek physical therapy as part of his or her healthcare regimen.