As with most professionals who are proud of what they do, ASHA
members often cite the need for greater awareness of the
speech-language pathology and audiology fields. Before engaging in
raising awareness, however, it is a good idea to first ask yourself
who needs to know about your work and why.
Depending on your goals, some audiences are clearly more
important than others, and you want to tailor your outreach
accordingly. Otherwise, you'll waste a lot of energy and likely
have little success. It is increasingly difficult to reach
"everyone." The media landscape is increasingly fragmented, and
people now access news on their smartphones, tablets and other
devices; via websites, blogs, and Facebook and Twitter; and through
tools such as customized feeds and news aggregators to for specific
topics of personal interest.
So before you begin any publicity efforts, ask yourself a few
key questions to help maximize your success:
Who are the most important stakeholders to
reach? It may be parents of children with communication
disorders, the local school board or PTA, state representatives, or
a variety of others. Sometimes, rather than the masses, it may be
just a handful of key groups or influencers who really need to hear
What is the best way to reach these people?
Perhaps it is through a local TV station or newspaper. Or maybe
it's a media outlet with a more specific audience, such as a
professional newsletter or specialty magazine. Or perhaps it's even
an online discussion board, listserv, or other nontraditional
forum. Determine where the audiences you are trying to reach get
their information. You can do this through some basic online
searching or by simply talking to others, such as your patients,
colleagues and neighbors.
What do you want to say? Be relevant! It's
critical that what you say reflects the audiences you are
targeting. The content itself, how it is organized, and the call to
action should be written in a way that resonates with the desired
audience. The message may be very different depending on whether
you are speaking to parents or to lawmakers, for instance. If you
are trying to advocate for increased funding, for example, you may
want to go to parents with a message of fighting on behalf of their
children so they can live fulfilling and productive lives. When
speaking with lawmakers, you may want to focus on a tangible,
economic benefit, such as reduced costs to government programs in
the long-term when early intervention is available in schools
through adequate funding.
Once you answer these questions, you can feel confident about
initiating your outreach.
Want more information? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.