How to Succeed at PR without Really Trying (Be a Co-op)

POCA has had quite the run of good press lately. Let's review:

1) It started out with a bang on May 2nd, when comrade Elizabeth Ropp got us mentioned on page A2 of the Washington Post. How in the world did she do that? She hosted one of Bernie Sanders' first campaign stops at her house, and she wore a POCA t-shirt. Not only did the Post spell out POCA's full name in the article, but the picture they took of her cheering his speech keeps circulating around the web whenever Sanders is mentioned (which is a lot). I like to think that zillions of people are subliminally absorbing the POCA logo.

2) Next, on May 12, Self Magazine published the online version of their June issue and it included an article titled "Should You Try Group Acupuncture?"  A freelance journalist who is a fan of Brooklyn Open Acupuncture pitched the story to Self, they agreed, and she interviewed me. Once again POCA's name was spelled out and a link to our website was included. Self is a Conde Nast publication that counts 4.3 million readers (on the way home from POCAfest, I noticed it was prominently displayed in all the airport kiosks -- right next to the chocolate, right under the cash register). Self has 354,000 followers on Twitter, so when they tweeted a link to the article, "Hold up -- group acupuncture is a thing?" I thought, OK, we're definitely a thing.

3) Then, on May 30, alert reader Gururas Khalsa spotted The Saturday Poem in the US edition of The Guardian: At the Community Acupuncture Clinic. If you haven't read it, go read it, it's beautiful. And it was written about a POCA clinic (if you want to know which one, and which of our comrades is the hummingbird, you'll have to check the forums). The Guardian US has a readership of over 1 million people per issue.

4) Finally, one of Cris' relatives sent her an article clipped from Cure magazine -- Cancer Updates, Research and Education, for patients, survivors and their caregivers. Cure also has a readership of about 1 million, and is widely distributed to patients, cancer centers, and advocacy groups. The Spring 2015 online edition does not include the article which appears on page 11 of the print copy, "Considering Group Acupuncture", so I'll have to quote:

The article begins: “Integrative techniques such as yoga and laughter therapy are typically practiced in groups, but does it make sense to administer acupuncture that way? Sure, according to study findings presented in April at the Annual Congress of Oncology Nursing Society. The study on group acupuncture found that this lower-cost therapy helped to alleviate pain, neuropathy and digestive problems in people receiving outpatient treatment for cancer.”

And it ends: “Group acupuncture clinics already exist around the country. An organization known as People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, online at pocacoop.com, is dedicated to the concept, and may be able to help patients find group acupuncture providers in their local areas.”

If POCA were running a PR campaign, we’d be counting it a spectacular success. We got our name, and in some cases our website, in some high-profile, unlikely places. OK, our name might be a little long, but it’s inarguably distinctive (thanks, Nora Madden!). I guarantee some readers (especially of the Washington Post) thought “People’s Organization of WHAT? What the hell, who are these bolsheviks?” but the thing is, they thought about us. Next time their aunt complains about her arthritis maybe they’ll remember the bolsheviks with their funny name and their cheap, accessible acupuncture.

But you know what, we weren’t running a PR campaign.  We were just going about our business, being a co-op. Our run of press pretty much coincided with our May Membership Drive which I maintain is the universe trying to tell us something.

After POCAfest, Cris and I did an interview via Skype with a guy from Montreal who is studying multi-stakeholder co-ops. Jade was our tech wrangler but midway through the interview it became clear that she should be giving the answers, not us (Jade probably has more co-op experience than almost anybody else around here). Afterwards I begged her to recreate the interview for the next time somebody wants to interview us about why we're a co-op. If you ever have trouble explaining this to anyone, you should watch her excellent explanation.

Anyway, as she says in the video, ALL of POCA’s members participate in education. We're all educating the public, all the time, spreading the message that acupuncture is part of society and ordinary people can afford it. Next time some acupuncturist complains that POCA doesn't care about "patient education", just tell them about our effortless PR campaign, Spring 2015.

It's just the way our co-op works. We treat all kinds of people, that’s our goal. When you treat all kinds of people, you’re going to make all kinds of connections. The word spreads and eventually it spreads into print. The activities of our members benefit each other. As a result, we didn’t have to hire a PR consultant, rack our brains to organize a campaign, or pay for a single ad. We didn’t have to worry about where our PR was going to appear.  Collectively we got the kind of coverage for free that none of us alone could ever afford to buy.  It's pretty cool to realize that you can do all kinds of things with solidarity alone.

And it just happened naturally. And it will keep happening. Because why would it stop?

p.s. at POCAfest a comrade told me that his wife ran across a romance novel where the main character was a community acupuncturist. When I get the details, I’ll let you know.

This story was posted on June 23 2015 by Lisafer.
Tags: poca co-op

Comments

  • June 23 2015 at 6:21 PM
    Spartacus writes:

    Wow I had no idea about half these things, how awesome! Aculand is gonna look a whole lot different in 10 more years… smile

      10 likes
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  • June 23 2015 at 9:32 PM
    Roppy writes:

    I have to tell you Lisa, that I wasn’t cheering Bernie’s speech, I was getting the crowd excited at the end of my 2 minute introduction before stepping aside so he could address the large crowd gathered in and around my tiny house.  I still can’t believe that I lucked out and that ACTUALLY happened.

    It’s funny to think back to 2009 when I was still with my first clinic.  Barack Obama came to Asheville to spend a weekend at a fancy resort/spa with the first lady, Tiger Woods, and Oprah Winfrey.  After my shift, I jumped on my bike and went up to The Grove Park Inn where they were staying.  It is so foolish the think that I hung out in the lobby with my copy of The Remedy just in case he happened to walk by.  Yeah, I did that. I admit it.  And I am sure by the time I got there, Barack and Michelle where enjoying themselves at the Grove Park Inn Spa, a place that is notorious for treating underpaid workers terribly.

    Since I have moved to New Hampshire, I have become pretty passionate about politics.  POCA punks are passionate about things, both in the clinic and outside of the clinic.  I am facebook friends with so many of you. I love seeing all of your passions: music, books, food, gardens, kids, goats, costumes, concerts.  Thank you for indulging me and all of my politicking and activism that I do as a way of connecting with my community on my off hours.

    It’s awesome that Bernie is a presidential candidate that promotes co-ops. Cooperatives are part of his 12 point plan: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/agenda/

    Right now, Bernie might not know about POCA. There is a chance that I might meet him again this weekend, or at some other point on the campaign trail.  I may have been unsuccessful at gifting our current president a copy of The Remedy.  But it is highly possible that I may be able to gift our FUTURE president with a copy of Fractal. 

    I will keep you posted.

    Keep up to good work, everyone.

      15 likes
  • June 28 2015 at 7:40 PM
    Roppy writes:

    Update:

    Bernie Sanders happily accepted a copy of Fractal this evening in Laconia, NH.

    Now, I am going to give you all my fan girl details.

    He gave a lengthy speech and Q&A session. This was his last event in NH for the weekend, 7 in total.  He received loads of applause and standing ovations.  I joined many others to shake his hand and hand him the copy of the book.  I held out the book and said “can I give you this book about a cooperative?”

    He stopped in his tracks and his eyes widened. 

    “Oh.  YEAH.”

    Bernie’s NH state coordinator reintroduced us.  “This is Elizabeth. You were at her house last month.” 

    Bernie hugged me and gave me a grandfatherly touch on the cheek. “We’ve gotten bigger turn outs since then. You need to go and buy a bigger house.”

     

      9 likes
  • June 28 2015 at 8:42 PM
    Roppy writes:

    In New Hampshire, anything is possible during a presidential campaign season.

      3 likes
  • June 29 2015 at 11:43 AM
    Spartacus writes:

    I am so feelin’ the Bern! Go Roppie! smile

      2 likes
    • Lisa B.
    • Roppy
  • July 10 2015 at 1:18 PM
    donnajoon writes:

    Bern, Roppie, Bern!  Love it all.  Just love love love it all.

      1 likes

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