PR for Complementary Health Care Practitioners

It’s taken the media and the traditional healthcare world quite a while to learn what the public has now known for quite a while.  Complementary and alternative healthcare is a huge force in the U.S. For example, a 1998 phone survey of 1539 adults found that 42.1% in the United States had used at least one form of complementary health care within a twelve month period.  That usage had increased since 1990 and continues to increase; the most used treatments were herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing and homeopathy.

When I began working in the arena of health-oriented PR, trying to get the media to do a segment on herbs, acupuncture or bodywork was a challenge.  Those modalities were considered too alternative, too out there; not mainstream enough.  And if the media did do a story on acupuncture, it had to feature an acupuncturist who was also an M.D.  Times have changed.  Now CNN, the Today Show, Time and other mainstream media outlets all cover alternative and complementary healthcare.  If you work in the world of wellness or complementary healthcare, you need to know how to work with the media and how to launch an effective PR campaign, the media floodgates have opened, but you need to learn to control the message.

Years ago, we worked with the Rolf Institute and the Heller Institute and, even though both modalities had been around for quite a while, they were still considered quite exotic by the mainstream media.  We were able to launch effective campaigns, but it was a hard go.  The media was weary.  They were not used to covering stories that did not involve an M.D., unless it was to uncover some type of fraudulent practice.   Well times have certainly changed since then. From body work and acupuncture to nutritional supplements and yoga, more modalities are making the leap from the alternative to the mainstream.  Traditional hospitals now have wellness centers that cover a host of alternative modalities.  More physicians are melding traditional and complementary health care in their practices.

More than anything, the public’s thirst for knowledge about their healthcare has skyrocketed.  It can be confusing for an individual to understand which supplements and what modalities are best suited for them.  The press understands their readers, viewers and listeners are craving information on how they can best utilize complementary health care.  This time offers some amazing public relations opportunities.  If you can explain your field, discuss how it works, offer anecdotal stories and present yourself to the media as an expert in your field, you’ll be well positioned to ride this healthcare information wave.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

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