In today’s healthcare market, consumers have more power—and more choices—than ever. With access to so many educational resources—hello, Google!—they also have the ability to conduct extensive research as they make those decisions. This represents a huge shift in the healthcare paradigm. It used to be that primary care doctors were the gatekeepers to all other specialties. Now, in many cases, patients have the freedom to seek out specialized care on their own. And that is precisely why it is so critical that we, as PTs, create a solid consumer-facing brand identity.

Now, some of you may argue that PT has a brand identity, but is it a strong—or positive—one? Is it one that will stick with consumers and prompt them to choose—and recommend—our services whenever they experience an issue that we are skilled at addressing? Here at WebPT, we recently did a video project exploring the public’s perception of who PTs are and what we do—and in doing so, we got a huge reality check. We started by scouring Twitter for PT-related tweets, and what we found was shocking. We had to share it, but how? Well, you might have seen one of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets” segments in which celebrities read all the insulting things the Twitterverse has to say about them. We took a page from Kimmel and created our own PT edition of Mean Tweets. (You can check it out here.)

Is the video funny? Yes and no. Everyone loves a good dis—remember the “yo momma” joke craze of the ’90s?—but I’d be lying if I said these quips didn’t sting a little. They demonstrate just how misunderstood and undervalued our profession really is in the eyes of the general public. This is proof that we haven’t yet come together to define our profession with a single, unified, memorable voice. I want to change that. Don’t you?

The public’s perception of PT isn’t going to change overnight, but every step forward—no matter how small—is a step in the right direction. With each tweet that presents PT in a positive light, we move closer to creating the brand we want. And eventually, all of those good tweets can drown out the noise of the negative ones. That’s why we started a social media campaign in response to these mean tweets. We’re going to take to Twitter and face these putdown tweets head-on. Here’s how it works:

  1. Download this sign; it reads “I’m a physical therapist, and I can help you __________.”
  2. Fill in the blank.
  3. Snap a picture of you holding the sign.
  4. Post it on Twitter with the hashtags #physicaltherapy and #getpt.

Ultimately, consumers have a choice, and we need to demonstrate why their first choice should be PT—not surgery or pain meds. Let’s show the world what we actually do and how we genuinely help. Let’s inspire the masses to experience the power of PT for themselves—one tweet at a time.