This guidebook will help you, as a respiratory therapist, gain recognition for the work that you do on a local level. You hold the power of public awareness in your hands because local recognition for the work you do, the events you hold, and the statements you make truly is the best PR we get.
What is Public Relations?
For us, PR means raising awareness of respiratory care and its importance among a variety of publics—other medical professionals, law-and policy-makers, the general populace and others. Goodwill and understanding happen through communication.
While PR does include getting the press to talk about you, it’s more than just media coverage. It involves all the things we do to build a connection with people. We all do PR everyday through:
- our actions
- our attitude
- our words
- our reputation
A person who thinks highly of you may decide that since you are such a great person, your profession must be an important and honorable one. Another way to look at it is to say that people will make judgments about respiratory care or RTs based on how they feel about the RTs they know and how the people they trust (their family, friends, some press) feel.
Our goal is to have each AARC member become proactive about PR. Networking experts say that each person knows at least 250 people. So, if I tell all 250 of my contacts about AARC and the respiratory care profession, and they each tell 250 people, and they each tell 250 people—we’ve just done a major PR campaign!
If I applied the Five Ws (you’ll learn about this later in the kit), it would go as follows:
- Who: All my contacts and all of their contacts
- What: All about AARC and the field of respiratory care
- Where & When: By e-mail, over the phone, face-to-face, skywriting
- Why: To educate people about the need for excellent Respiratory Care and the experts who provide that care, RTs
We are all working on the same goal, to increase the visibility of Respiratory Care and RTs in the medical community and the general public. On the national level, AARC Communications staff educate and raise awareness among press, legislators, the medical community, the general public and even within the AARC. We also create and gather tools that AARC members can use to do their own grassroots campaigns.
Why are grassroots campaigns so important? Because they are so effective! It is so much easier to build a connection when whoever you are trying to reach can identify with you, they know the hospital you work in, they know the charities you volunteer with, they’ve seen you around town. The press also know how effective local stories are; it’s so much easier for them to see the relevance of a story when it has an impact locally, on their readership.
Public relations can play a very important role in an association like the American Association for Respiratory Care. It can contribute to influencing local, state and national government officials on legislation the AARC supports, and it can improve the overall image of the Association’s members and the respiratory therapy profession. It can turn negatives to positives. This kit is designed to give you the basics of public relations; a complicated and fluid enterprise. We’ve included a lot of information and we expect you might have a few questions. Contact Heather Willden and we will help make your PR efforts as straightforward as possible.
Knowledge Is Power
Whether you are speaking with the press, presenting information to other medical professionals or speaking with your patients, you never know when someone is going to want more information. In some cases, you might be able to say, “I don’t have that information with me, can I get back to you?” but sometimes, you only have their attention for that moment, and it’s important you’re as prepared as possible.
- Materials You Should Have On-Hand
- The AARC Public Relations Message
- Who We Want to Reach—Our Audience
Disturb the Peace…Get Some Attention!
For the lucky few, just doing their job will get them publicity. The rest of us have to work for it, giving the media and the public reasons to talk about RC and an opportunity to learn about RC with minimal effort on their part.
Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
You’ve been asked to do an interview. Now what? The good news is you have donea great job of getting attention. Now comes the part where you keep itlong enough to get your message across. Here is a quick list of interviewtips that you can print off and review when you’re preparing for
A Final Thought: Make A Good Impression
Every contact we have with someone makes an impression. When you’re with a patient, speaking to someone, sending an email message to a friend, being interviewed or writing an OpEd, people are coming to conclusions about you and your profession. We all know the adage “One bad apple spoils the bushel.” We also know that there are people around us who are negative or apathetic about their work. Sometimes it can feel like a battle to get fellow RTs revved up and excited about what we do.
Our armor against that apathy and negativity is pride in our profession and in our ability to do our job. When we have pride in our profession, it’s easy to take an active interest in it and do what we can to make things happen. Joining with others—co-workers or fellow society members—can make the work easier, less time-consuming, more fulfilling and fun. And let’s face it, people who are smiling because they are having fun and enjoying what they are doing for themselves, their profession and the community always make a great impression!