Reaching out to the public with an affirmative message about the role of orthopaedic surgeons in promoting patient health and well-being is the goal of the Academy’s public service campaigns. Through its placement of public service announcements (PSAs) in print, broadcast, and other media, the Academy reaps, without cost, the equivalent of at least $12 million worth of paid advertising. These PSAs deliver a primarily educational message, informing the public about issues and options for maintaining optimal musculoskeletal health and casting the role of the orthopaedic surgeon in a positive light.
That success promises to roll on in 2014 as the Academy unveiled new print and radio campaigns along with innovative social media promotions during the Opening Ceremonies at the 2014 AAOS Annual Meeting.
This year’s multimedia program—television, radio and four print PSAs (pictured with this article)—delivers the following messages:
- Patients can play a critical role in ensuring safe and optimal surgical outcomes.
- Physical activity—at every age—is important to ensure healthy bones.
- Common sense precautions in the home can help prevent falls and injuries.
- Distracted-driving awareness and prevention are key to reducing injuries.
- Significant advances in the treatment of scoliosis have been made, featuring world-ranked golfer Stacy Lewis.
This year’s PSA campaign features a new radio spot with the theme of “Patient Safety: It Takes a Team.” The ad encourages patients “not just to lie there but, instead, to join their surgical team and to take an active role in their medical care for the best outcomes.”
The spot features a dialogue between a patient, “Mr. Detweiler,” who has just received a knee replacement, and his surgeon. As Mr. Detweiler awakens, “Dr. Newman” greets him, saying, “You have a new knee! It went great! You’ll be up and around before you know it. And it’s all because of you!” The puzzled patient asks, “Uh, what did I do?” and the surgeon replies, “You were captain of Team Detweiler! You told us everything we needed to know … your medical history, your allergies and prescription meds. … You asked me tons of questions—what your options to surgery might be, what to expect during recovery; you even asked me how many knee replacements I’ve already done.”
The patient’s role in the team is reinforced with a print ad featuring the tag line “Going in for surgery? Don’t just lie there.” It also informs patients that teaming up as active partners with their physicians “means plenty of candid questions and honest answers from each, including, from the patient, complete medical history and list of medications.”
Decide to drive
Another print advertisement refreshes the successful Decide To Drive® campaign with a photo illustrating the message that the four most advanced safety features in the automobile industry are ones “already attached to the driver”: two hands and two eyes, the latter of which should be kept on the road.
This ad continues the Academy’s collaboration with the Auto Alliance. According to Ms. Gordon, the Auto Alliance has been so pleased with the campaign that they have come forth with an additional grant. “They’ve been great to work with,” she said.
For 2014, the DecideToDrive.org site has been revamped, and the new design will launch during the first week of April. Also new this year is an extensive social media campaign that will include contributions by well-known bloggers, Twitter parties, an Instagram contest, and an invitation to send the campaign’s “wreck-less checklist,” which includes tips for safe driving, to a driver who needs a reminder. A contest will invite participants to come up with a catch phrase that emphasizes the need for drivers to focus on the road.
A third ad, promoted in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA), features a seated, straight-faced elderly couple comically encased in bubble wrap and duct tape with the headline “There Are Smarter Ways to Guard Against Falls.” It emphasizes the importance of senior home safety and refers patients to orthoinfo.org/falls and ota.org for tips on safeguarding the living quarters.
The concept arose from the Patient Safety Summit sponsored by the AAOS last fall. “Home safety is bone safety,” Ms. Gordon said. “We hope our members will use this PSA to educate their patients.”
The orthoinfo.org/falls website has all of the Academy’s materials and information on falls prevention, and a downloadable kit people can use to make their homes safer and protect against falls.
Finally, a new print ad, produced in conjunction with the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS), features champion golfer Stacy Lewis, who as a teen underwent spine surgery and rod placement for scoliosis. The headline next to a photo of her swinging an iron reads: “Stacy Lewis is an expert on metal shafts. After all, she has one in her back.” It describes the young golfer as a model for “what talent, determination, and advanced orthopaedic surgery can accomplish,” and refers to the public website ANationInMotion.org.
On the television front, the Academy reprises its award-winning “Lazy Bones” spot, set to Leon Redbone’s song of that name. The ad depicts family members whose body mass indexes would appear to be less than ideal going to absurd lengths to avoid activity. The message is that a sedentary lifestyle is “bad news for your bones” and that bones are living tissues that stay vital with a healthy diet and physical activity.
In addition to the ever-expanding presence on social media, Ms. Gordon said this year’s PSA campaign will place more emphasis on conveying the message “out-of-home,” meaning in shopping centers, airports, and other sites, and on outdoor billboards. Recently, a Chicago outdoor media company specifically requested Academy ads for display on several enormous billboards around the city.
“The word is out on our work. We get requests for these ads,” said Ms. Gordon. She is especially excited to report that CBS has requested the television spot for airing on its network. “It’s almost unheard-of to get PSAs on the networks. We are thrilled,” she said.
She noted that she often fields calls from other medical societies who want to know how the Academy is so effective with its program; often the calls are at the behest of those societies’ members who have seen AAOS ads. Ms. Gordon reports that the secret to the Academy’s success with its PSA program, which has been honored with hundreds of awards, is its focus on a meaningful, relevant message that is of interest to the public.
Superb execution is also key. “The creative work has to be outstanding. There are thousands of other PSAs out there,” she said. “And if the big idea isn’t meaningful to people, you’re not going to get anywhere. The media outlets want topics that are of interest to their audiences.”
The focus of the Academy’s publicity effort is reaching the public, and if that public includes legislators, so much the better. “Orthopaedists benefit when members of Congress see AAOS PSAs in airports showing that orthopaedic surgeons are trying to prevent people from falling or accidents caused by distracted driving,” Ms. Gordon said. “The goal is for people—including legislators—to see orthopaedists being positive and part of the solution. It’s a way to say, ‘here is what we bring to your constituents, what we do to give them back their mobility.’”
One initiative tailored for Washington, D.C., is an “Advocacy Man” visual, an anatomic drawing of a man with labels describing how orthopaedic surgeons restore function to various parts of the body. The copy explains that orthopaedic surgery benefits society and the economy because “If a patient’s musculoskeletal system doesn’t work, neither can the patient.”
“This is a way to show the value that orthopaedic surgeons deliver, and that, in many ways, they want to prevent surgeries,” Ms. Gordon said. The idea for the piece was a byproduct of the Academy’s value studies.
An ancillary benefit of the PSA campaigns is the collaboration with specialty societies and the promotion of unity. “The relationships are wonderful,” Ms. Gordon said. “OTA has been a pleasure to work with. Everybody was committed to preventing falls. SRS was great too. It was challenging to do something with someone of the caliber of Stacy Lewis and arrange the photography, but SRS was persistent.”
The Academy’s PSAs can be seen at newsroom.aaos.org/psa/
Terry Stanton is senior science writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at email@example.com