Can helping others help you?


“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Terence C. Brown, PT, DPT, COMT

We are all looking for innovative ways to get our name out to the public. If you have been in practice for many years like me, you may have tried signs, newspaper ads, high school banners, pens, backpacks, stress balls, billboards, lunches, and many other things. Does this marketing work? Is the public more aware of who you are and what your practice represents through these single dimension advertising venues? Who knows? It is difficult to objectively measure the impact of advertising this way. My experience tells me that they work minimally, if at all.

So what does work? In my practice, we have found that when the community in which you work connects your name with events that lead to the greater good of that community, then your name is recognized as the place they wish to do business.

I will use our clinic as a case study to make this point. Eight years ago we were looking for a way to increase our name recognition in the community, as well as to address the general health of our community. What emerged was the creation of a 5K race. We used part of our clinic name in the 5K name, but also branded it as “Not your everyday 5K.” Mechanisms we used to warrant this branding included recruiting first timers (people who had never participated in a road race before) to sign up, providing in-house education on how to get started, how to train, injury prevention, and a variety of other topics provided onsite at our clinic. We offered free flexibility screenings and started an evening running group. Over the years, we have even developed training books for both beginners and advanced runners.


To engage the greater community, we reached out to the school systems and created a yearly school challenge. Now, all the local schools compete for a cash award, given to the top three schools that have the most participants cross the finish line. With the kids come their parents and teachers. We’ve just initiated a business challenge, where local employers can be a sponsor of the race by promoting it to their employees and family members.

As our race has grown each year, so have the community partnerships that help make this event a success. We now partner with the local health department, our local shoe store, different groups who vie to do our water stations, and local charities and civic organizations that make up “cheer” teams along the route, giving our race the flavor of a big city event.

This has become a large undertaking, but from the beginning we have donated the proceeds to the local United Way. We chose this organization because it represents organizations within the community that benefit over 30 percent of our local population. In return, we received its help, its name recognition, and its advertising strength in the community, and the organization recruits our volunteers for race night.

With this collaboration, we have been able to develop lasting relationships with United Way and its partners, the entire county’s school systems, the running community, the local civic clubs, and a plethora of inactive citizens who could become healthier by participating in this race. Our clinic name is now associated not only with quality physical therapy, but with the community as a whole. If you measure success by how many times I have heard “Proactive for Life 5K, that is where I know your name,” then we have succeeded by the thousands. If you measure success by changed lives, healthier lifestyles, and the good work of United Way, then I can do nothing but smile.

This is just one example of partnering for success and how helping others ends up helping you. Many of you are creating innovative projects that benefit others and benefit your clinic. What if we were all doing something like this? How many people would benefit? How much would you and your clinic benefit? I encourage you to get involved in your community. You will enhance your clinic name, you will enhance the profession’s name, and most likely you will enhance your bottom line.


Terence C. Brown, PT, DPT, COMT, is a PPS board member and vice president, owner, and chief operating officer of Pro.Active Therapy. He can be reached at

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