MWW Group has worked with the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) for several years to raise awareness about hand therapists, physical and occupational therapists who specialize in treating the area from the tip of the finger up to the shoulder.
"A lot of people know what occupational and physical therapists are, but they don't know there are hand specialists," says Stacey Doyon, ASHT president-elect. In 2005, the firm wanted to shift tactics for increasing public awareness.
MWW Group had previously issued consumer alerts about the effect of excessive video game playing on the hands. "The media really started to notice when we put out these consumer education alerts," says John Digles, group VP and GM of MWW Group's Chicago office. The team realized it needed to come up with a catchy and current way to capture the media and public's attention.
Working closely with ASHT, MWW Group devised alerts warning consumers about the potential for "Blackberry thumb" and "iPod finger." "It already existed in the profession," says Digles. "They were seeing it as a breaking trend." The team issued warnings of both ailments, including tips on prevention and treatment. In addition to sending information over the newswires, MWW Group also targeted hundreds of science and medical writers.
The two alerts received widespread coverage for ASHT in such outlets as Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post.
"I think it's actually increased our membership," Doyon says. The effort also helped ASHT garner more referrals from family physicians and 65% higher reimbursement levels from insurance companies.
MWW Group continues to work with ASHT on innovative ways to promote hand therapists' work.
PR team: MWW Group (Chicago) and American Society of Hand Therapists (Chicago)
Campaign: Blackberry Thumb and iPod Finger
Budget: In excess of $50,000