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Focused on Growth

By Chris Wilson, PT, DPT

In the middle of my second year as chair of the Membership Committee, although I find our section to be approaching the membership numbers of 2012, I recognize that growth over the last six years has been relatively flat. This contrasts with steady growth of the American Physical Therapy Association as a whole. As a result, the Membership Committee is working hard to help grow our membership in the present and set up a sustainable way of continuing that growth for a volunteer-driven organization.

Defining Private Practice Physical Therapy

By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS

Over the course of my career, I have had numerous discussions about how to define and message what private practice physical therapy is. Why is it that physicians, nurses, and dentists can easily define what they do, while physical therapists often offer a long-winded and simultaneously vague explanation? How can we expect the public to understand the value of our services—and our role in health care—if we continue to have difficulty defining it?

With this in mind, I am delighted to share the happenings of the Private Practice Section (PPS) Marketing and Public Relations Committee. The committee’s objective is to provide marketing and public relations educational programming and tools for individual members to implement within their communities and with their local media. The committee wants to encourage a grassroots effort where members have the tools and the confidence to comfortably promote their practices and ultimately improve the public’s understanding of what we offer.

This year, a number of this committee’s initiatives have come to fruition. After two years of work, “The Fit Factor” has been launched. This interactive, online survey will increase consumers’ awareness of the scope of private practice physical therapy, drive people to local private practices, and provide a fun opportunity for people to benchmark where their physical health is compared to the rest of the population. Webinars will educate members about how this tool can be used in their promotional campaigns. And this is only the beginning; the Fit Factor website and collateral materials, including educational videos and newsletters, will continue to evolve.

Simultaneously (and in answer to numerous member requests), marketing gurus Lynn Steffes and Scott Wick are producing a wonderful series of videos covering things you need to know when planning your marketing, such as budgeting. They will cover areas such as internal, referral source, consumer, community, and outreach marketing. This series will ensure all members have a basic understanding of marketing and public relations and will improve results when utilizing the tools our committee develops.

This year, we are also excited to offer our membership professionally written monthly press releases. Previously, these press releases were available only to our media corps, a group of 100 practice owners around the country involved with our committee’s public relations campaign.

Finally, we want to hear about your success stories. How did you gain new patients from the Fit Factor? Was your press release picked up? Which of our new marketing strategies resulted in success? Sharing your stories will help other members and strengthen our profession in these changing times.

I am grateful for the leadership of the outgoing chair Don Levine who has developed a committee of dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced members. I would like to thank Scott Wick, Erica Meloe, and Jessica McKinney for continuing to serve on the committee, and I want to welcome our new members Darren Rodia and Jessica Burchett. We look forward to working together to effectively promote private practice physical therapy—and to help us all speak to our integral role in the health care landscape. 

Growing the Brand

By Dr. Chris Wilson, PT, DPT, CHES

At the Private Practice Section (PPS) annual conference in Orlando this past November, the Membership Development Committee convened to create a strategic plan for the next few years. Collectively we are excited with the new direction and initiatives we are working on.

First, one of the undertakings is a reimagining of the student business concept contest. Last year we added a checklist to help provide guidance and remove barriers to applying. However, we have found that the variance in projects is so vast it is in need of a major overhaul to level the playing field. Our goal is to simplify the process for both the students and those reviewing the submissions.

The next idea takes a systematic approach to defining the value of the Private Practice Section (PPS) to members and potential members. Too often when we review surveys about why people are members the overwhelming answer is: “the people.” Great, I love the people, too, but if that is the only reason or the first reason that comes to mind, good luck growing and sustaining a membership base in the mobile and social media age. Further, if the main reason is networking, that represents one type of member and demonstrates our failure to deliver to other membership types. To address this, we plan to create a “win bank” to quickly and objectively demonstrate and recall the value that we provide and the success that we have had in supporting the physical therapist in business.

Finally, we are going to target at least two sections to learn their needs and identify means to deliver on those needs to grow our membership and our brand while helping guide other physical therapists to success in business. The net result of this and other activities will be a net growth equaling and surpassing our best year out of the previous five.

Thank you to Anna Moore for her mentorship in preparing me for my role as the new chair of the committee and her leadership in general as the outgoing chair. Thanks to Audrey Waldron and Kathy Stenslie for their years of dedicated service. Thanks to Clay Watson and Robert Snow for staying on the committee. And welcome to Charlie Bigelow, Kelly McFarland, and Scott Hebert.

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