Promote the Profession – Part 3, Communication

25 Jan

Throughout this blog, I have written my opinions on why an AT should be at every high school in the US, but this blog is too small a forum to accomplish that goal.  What it will take to achieve that level of care for all high school athletes is a collective effort by thousands of ATs across the country to promote the profession.  This series of blog entries will seek to give ideas to the AT on real life ways that they can also promote the profession.

Part 3 – Communication

I know, I know, Part 2 was communication.  But another aspect of communication has developed in the last 10 years – electronic communication.  It has been fascinating to watch the development of the digital age during my adult lifetime.  It is a great time to be alive with all the advancements in communication from cell phones, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.  It is now normal for ATs to be able to be in instant communication with coaches, athletes and parents even though they are miles apart.  This wasn’t available just 10 years ago, but it opens a whole new avenue for ATs to promote the profession!

Here are some ideas to use for individual ATs to promote the profession of Athletic Training and get the word out about the work we do:

  • Blog – This is a great outlet to write about anything related to athletic training.  There are also many, many great blogs out there written by ATs.  If you enjoy writing and have a desire to do it, just do it!
  • Twitter – Developing a Twitter following among your student assistants, parents, coaches and athletes may help promote the profession.  You could Tweet about games, practices, modern injury treatments, etc.  Of course you would need to keep things private to comply with FERPA and HIPPA  laws.  You would also need to be aware that Tweets can come back to haunt you if you write things in an emotional state.  I have heard someone say that Twitter is digital beer muscles.  Twitter has endless creative possibilities.
  • Facebook – Social networking has become a great way to reconnect with old friends, stay connected with friends and family and to professionally network.  One way that I promote the profession on Facebook is to link blogs and current news articles about athletic training.  Most of my friends aren’t ATs, so spreading the word about athletic training through Facebook can be viewed as pinpoint marketing for the NATA.
  • Web Page – Developing a web page can be very useful for the high school and college ATC.  There are many medical forms needed to comply with state association and NCAA rules.  There are several things parents, athletes and coaches need to know about how things are done in your training room.  Setting up a web page with all these forms, all the procedures and policies, answers to frequently asked questions, training room hours, personnel is a great way to promote the profession.
  • Local Media – even though the big newspapers seem to be dying, I feel as though the small hometown papers are growing.  Why? Because they provide us something that we still can’t get through the national news – local news.  With that local news comes the local beat writer.  Through my years at my high school, I have gotten to know several of these beat writers because I am always at games they are covering.  These members of the media can be a great resource for the AT looking to promote the profession.  Develop a relationship with them, learn their names, read their article, talk with them about their articles, help them out before the games by getting them a roster, etc.  Then just before the month of March, National Athletic Training Month, talk with them about an article idea – athletic training.  Share the theme of the year (2011 is Not All Athletes Wear Jerseys) and the NATM logo with them.  This isn’t about self-promotion, it is about NATA promotion.   The writers I know are always looking for a unique story rather than having to write about the hometown teams all the time.

Today’s marketing seems to be more effective through small grassroots efforts than through major national media campaigns.  DVRs, On Demand and downloadable net-casts of TV programming is changing the landscape of commercial advertising.  If each AT were to develop and implement their own marketing strategy through any of the modern digital media outlets and reach just their own small market with the message of what athletic training is, it would be a highly effective grass roots marketing plan for the NATA.  It would be much more effective than an Super Bowl ad, ESPN ad, network TV ad, etc.  Each of us should do something no matter how small to give back to the profession.  I believe it is our professional duty, I hope you do too.

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