APA uses media outreach to tie obesity, high stress

For several years, the American Psychological Association (APA) has sought to publicize the many important links that stress has with obesity and heart disease, but the media had previously failed to really grasp the news angle of the topic.

For several years, the American Psychological Association (APA) has sought to publicize the many important links that stress has with obesity and heart disease, but the media had previously failed to really grasp the news angle of the topic.

Working with Vanguard Communications, the APA decided it was time to try a few new tactics.

Strategy:
The APA and Vanguard Communications shortened the message to "stress and physical health," and began conducting an annual survey - the first was in 2006 - which could serve as fodder for news stories, says Luana Bossolo, assistant executive director of PR for the APA's practice directorate.

"We were able to provide some real life trends and show them there was a real crisis," she says.

Tactics:
The team invited women's interest, health, and fitness magazine reporters, as well as general interest radio, TV, and print outlets to a luncheon in New York on October 24, announcing the results. Exclusives provided to USA Today and NBC guaranteed that "at least those outlets would cover it," says Brenda Foster, Vanguard's VP of account services.

In addition, the team sent toolkits of CDs and other informational materials to APA's grassroots network of approximately 500 psychologists.

Results:
The exclusive with USA Today led to unsolicited attendance by a number of additional reporters at the luncheon. Media hits of almost 400 included publications like The New York Times, as well as local papers, and various radio and TV networks, adding up to more than 200 million impressions.

Future:
Another survey will be released in October, likely tied to current news events, like the presidential election, to keep the topic of stress and health fresh.

PR Team: American Psychological Association and Vanguard Communications (both Washington)

Campaign: "Stress in America"

Duration: March-October 2007

Budget: $221,000

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