Over the past several years, Georgians have been getting more obese and less healthy. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s 2010 Georgia Data Summary, obesity in children and youth posed a significant public health problem. Overall, Georgia exceeded the Healthy People 2010 national goal for children and youth in every age, sex, rate and ethnic group.
One of the Georgia Association of Physician Assistant’s (GAPA) primary missions is to educate patients on health issues. The leadership recognized that obesity is the most serious health issue in our State and decided to launch an immediate, comprehensive, year-long public messaging initiative on this subject.
GAPA leadership engaged O’Neill Communications to develop the “Get Fit with GAPA” initiative in the fall of 2011. The initiative would focus on engaging Georgians to make better choices when it comes to diet and exercise. O’Neill announced the effort during PA month in October 2011 with these activities:
- Designed and launched new “Get Fit with GAPA” logo
- Developed relationship with Georgia State Parks and “Tons of Fun” events
- Produced PA Month billboards, print ads and radio spots featuring “Get Fit with GAPA” messaging
- Promoted Find a PA, encouraging patients to connect with a physician assistant who can help them start on the road to fitness by clicking on the “Find a PA” link at GAPA.net.
- Provided additional resources and fitness tips at GAPA.net/fit
During initial research and development, O’Neill Communications discovered that the Georgia State Park System was starting its own “Tons of Fun” fitness challenge, and determined that a collaboration of two programs might be a good fit. Within a few weeks the organizations teamed up for what would become a successful cross-promotional marketing campaign that would get the attention of corporate funding, statewide media and the national PA organization.
- GAPA members encouraged patients to visit “Tons of Fun” events at Georgia State Parks where GAPA members would volunteer to staff health check stations.
- Through the State Park’s “Rx for Fitness” program, physician assistants would prescribe healthy hikes in the great outdoors, and patients then would turn in their “prescriptions” for free park passes.
- “Rx for Fitness” launched February 2 at the GAPA winter meeting, with support by The Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.
During the winter and spring of 2012, GAPA promoted “Get Fit with GAPA” and the “Rx for Fitness” programs through monthly health watch bulletins, radio PSAs, print ads in GEMC magazine, radio spots on the 120 affiliate stations of the Georgia News Network and online via Facebook and Google AdWords.
Television news stations in Atlanta (CBS), Savannah (CBS) and Macon (NBC) provided coverage of and helped get the word out about the “Rx for Fitness” program. “Get Fit with GAPA” was recognized by the American Academy of Physician Assistants in the May issue of PA Professional, the official journal of the national organization.
The “Get Fit with GAPA” page listing opportunities for PAs is the second most popular page on the GAPA website (after the homepage) with 7,000+ page views in the first five months of 2012. The “Get Fit with GAPA page for the public had 1500+ views and GAPA’s health watch notices had received 1400+ page views.