Building Consumer Campaigns: National School Backpack Awareness Day & Other Events

Written by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

APTA’s vision statement is “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” It is both ours and our members’ goal to help consumers make wise choices with their health care and assist people of all ages improve and maintain mobility and remain active and fit throughout life. We take that mission seriously and through a variety of multifaceted, consumer-oriented campaigns, on a number of subjects, we get the word out.

Pediatric back pain, for example, is just one issue on which we’ve focused. As children head back to school and ease back into the daily routine of learning, stuffing their bags each day with heaps of heavy books, it is important to remember the impact the weight of all those books can have on young child’s back. The added pounds can lead to serious issues and back pain. Last week was National School Backpack Awareness Day, and each fall APTA launches a campaign, using a mix of social and traditional media to get the word out about backpack safety.

Launching Consumer Campaigns at APTA

When we launch any consumer event we take a multifaceted approach using both social and traditional media. We incorporate all of our social media properties (Facebook, YouTube, BlogTalkRadio, Twitter, and Pinterest) to extend our reach as far as possible. Whilst our web team is busy coordinating that effort our media relations folks are busy composing talking points, press releases, and other content, and then personally reaching out to targeted media.

Social Media

We have hosted numerous “tweet chats” and “Google Hangouts,” conducted social media-based competitions to encourage people to learn more and spread the word, and created an online library of tips, tools, and helpful videos for our consumer site and related YouTube channel.


When APTA creates a consumer campaign, we often seek to partner with key bloggers or organizations that cater to the target audience for that particular campaign. For example, when working on a campaign such as pediatric back pain we would look to partner with prominent “mommy bloggers” who have large followings of mothers. This allows us to access their numerous followers and extends the reach of our message exponentially.

Member Engagement

We couldn’t do it alone! With each campaign we seek to harness the power of our 88,000+ members. They are always a part of communications plan and we actively engage and encourage them to join us in the campaign. We provide sample tweets and Facebook posts to make it easy for them to participate.

These activities not only build recognition, but also have raised our profile by positioning us as a valuable resource both for consumers and the media. We have had marked success using this multifaceted approach, garnering high-profile placements in many top tier electronic and print publications, including WebMD,, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Consumer Reports, to name just a few.

Click here to see our many resources on backpack safety and a variety of other subjects.

How do you reach out to your communities to promote physical activity? How can we better engage families in their health? Let us know in the comments.