Friends and clients know my company, ASPR, has a tagline: Uncover the Story. In its simplest reading, this tagline is easy to follow. It means we are a public relations firm that stresses the importance of storytelling in all it does. But a trusted adviser recently asked me, “What does uncover the story really mean?”
Good question. Recently I attended a lecture where the importance of storytelling was shared. Research has shown that “stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain, and thus are better remembered, than simply stating a set of facts.” So now we have data to back up what we intuitively knew.
However, this is where the real trouble sets in. Most people are too scared and uncomfortable to really tell a good story. You know, one with a protagonist, foreshadowing, drama, a real challenge and then resolution. Hillary Clinton was afraid of telling stories about her dreams, ambitions and goals for the country; Donald Trump has more stories to tell than anyone wants to listen to.
As a reporter, I often had the unenviable task of knocking on the doors of family members who had tragically lost a loved one. It took me a few years to find a successful way to approach this assignment. I finally hit upon the right words: “I don’t like having to do this, but I have to report on your loved one tonight on the news. I’d like him to be known and remembered the right way, with your words. Otherwise, my audience won’t get the real understanding of who he was.” Almost always, the door would open, I’d be invited in and a story would be told.
Today, as a public relations consultant, I’m still asking those tough questions. One time I asked a client how much money he lost in the financial crash; I told him that detail was vitally important in order to build credibility for the story he wanted to tell. After questioning my sanity, he agreed to publicly share the number: $2.5 million. MILLION. Wow.
Indeed, my pushing made his op-ed one that POLITICO published and then I got CNBC interested in. Without this key fact, the author was just adding to the hot air. By inserting the fact, the readers got the point: This man meant what he wrote and he had the proof in his own balance sheet.
Uncover the story is really an investigative approach to PR, but it’s the only way I have found to get to the heart of stories that can make us cry, angry and motivated to create change.
ASPR aided in the research, writing and editing of a blog for New York Times best-selling author Dr. Deepak Chopra. TIME magazine named him one of the top 100 heroes of the century. ASPR client Genomind, a personalized medicine company, is grateful to have Chopra weigh in with his perspective on Eastern and Western medicine along with Dr. Rudolph Tanzi.
They write: “No one in healthcare has yet developed a genetic test that can pinpoint the cause of mental illnesses or diagnose an individual with a particular mental health condition. However, pharmacogenetic testing is currently available and has helped to guide clinicians toward what a patient suffering from depression or anxiety may need to feel better, faster.”
ASPR is a nominee for the Best of Maryland award from Public Relations Society of America for an op-ed that was researched, co-written and placed in The Washington Post.
“The choice is simple: We fund voluntary home-visiting programs that have a proven effect on the health and safety of children and parents and long-term benefits for taxpayers, or we can pay more later for the costs of crime, incarceration and lost human potential,” stated Montgomery County (Md.) Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger.
Thanks in part to such a persuasive argument, Congress reauthorized federal funding for home visiting.
As Mental Illness Awareness Week begins, a new poll finds Americans have divergent views about illnesses that affect thinking, feeling or mood; this discrepancy is notable when it comes to genetic testing recommended by a doctor to help with personalized treatment.
Thirty-four percent of Americans report having been diagnosed with a mental illness or have a friend or family member who has been. A mere 7 percent think the country does a good job at dealing with mental illness, while 45 percent feel we do a poor job, a percentage that is more than twice as high as the responses for how the U.S. deals with cancer, heart disease and diabetes, according to the Genomind Mental Health Poll™. Genomind (www.genomind.com) is a personalized medicine company bringing innovation to mental health care.
Recently, celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen have been more open about their own struggles with depression. Nearly half of poll respondents see such revelations as a positive trend and agree it would be great to see more disclosures, while 17 percent say this is a private matter and these public figures should keep this information to themselves.
Almost half of the poll respondents say the country should be spending more than it does on mental health (currently the U.S. spends roughly 4 percent on mental health of the nearly $2 trillion it spends on health care each year), while just 25 percent feel the current balance is about right.
However, 28 percent of Americans agree that “except in extreme circumstances, issues like depression and anxiety should be solved on a personal level and not with medication.”
Also pointing to the split opinions Americans hold on mental health issues, 67 percent are very or somewhat excited about using genetic tests to individualize patients’ treatments for a wide variety of illnesses to make treatments more effective. However, when asked specifically if they would take a genetic test recommended by a doctor that would help determine the best treatment plan for mental illness, respondents are less likely to choose to take such a test than they are to take a test to guide treatment for cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
A majority (53 percent) did agree the following was a strong statement to support genetic tests for mental illness treatment: They help reduce the time, expense and struggle of finding the right treatment by trial and error.
“I think what we are seeing when we dig deeper is that mental health issues still seem to carry a stigma for many Americans, despite all the public education that has been done and what we know today about their diagnosis and treatment. This stigma evidences itself in the way that Americans seem to view mental illness differently than other chronic diseases,” says Stefan Hankin of Lincoln Park Strategies, who conducted the poll for Genomind.
“I’ve felt the stigma of mental health in my life,” says Patrick J. Kennedy, a noted mental health advocate, Genomind adviser and former Congressman. “The poll results clearly show that some Americans still view treatment for mental health differently than they do for other diseases. We would never tell a breast cancer patient to just ‘deal with it.’ During this important week I hope we can make progress on advancing understanding and acceptance of effective treatment and genetic testing to help guide treatment for mental health.”
The Genomind Mental Health Poll consisted of a representative sample of 1,000 interviews that were conducted online Sept. 21–25, 2016. The Bayesian confidence interval for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the 95 percent confidence level.
“We conducted this poll because we think it’s important to understand where the country stands on these vital issues; the results will hopefully lead to greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the mental health sector,” says Michael Koffler, Genomind president and CEO.
Genomind’s Genecept Assay® is a genetic test designed to help clinicians optimize treatment decisions for their patients with mental illness. Clinical research has found 87 percent of patients demonstrated a clinically measurable improvement with treatment guided by the Genecept Assay. It also reported improvement in 91 percent of patients who had previously failed at least two medications.
The Genecept Assay is available for use by any licensed and prescribing clinician. Patients should discuss with their clinician whether the Genecept Assay is right for them: https://genomind.com/talk-to-your-doctor/. Patients should have their clinician contact Genomind directly to order test kits and/or to receive more information about testing.
Genomind is a personalized medicine company bringing innovation to mental health care through genetic testing. Genomind is comprised of pioneering researchers and thought leaders in psychiatry and neurology and specializes in pharmacogenetic laboratory testing for psychiatry. Genomind is committed to partnering with clinicians to improve their patients’ lives. Learn more at www.genomind.com.
About the Genecept Assay®
The Genecept Assay® is a genetic test designed to help clinicians optimize treatment decisions for their patients with mental illness. It identifies patient-specific genetic markers that indicate which treatments are likely to work as intended, have no effect or cause adverse effects. It is an easily administered cheek swab test that analyzes key genes that have been selected based on hundreds of studies showing that variations in these genes can inform treatment decisions. The Assay is used to guide treatment for a range of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain and substance abuse, and has been shown in peer-reviewed published studies to improve patient outcomes and reduce overall medical costs. Each Assay provides clinicians with an easy-to-read patient report and a complimentary psychopharmacogenomic consultation. Learn more at www.genomind.com
Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications Genomind
Hard work and good luck resulted in President Bill Clinton giving a moving testimony to the work of Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, a longtime ASPR client. Clinton made his remarks at the Democratic National Convention and they were viewed by 24 million Americans. Coverage was secured on NPR, Education Week, POLITICO and dozens of other outlets.
PRESIDENT CLINTON’S PRAISE OF HIPPY USA JOINS
GROWING CHORUS OF BIPARTISAN VOICES SUPPORTING
EDUCATION HOME VISITING PROGRAM
In a nationwide address, President Bill Clinton spoke passionately about the impact of Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (www.hippyusa.org), an evidence-based home visiting program.
“Twenty years of research has shown how well this program works to improve readiness for school and academic achievement. There are a lot of young adults in America…who are enjoying better lives because they were in that program,” Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention. The clip can be viewed at http://cs.pn/2awbOpB.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s relationship with HIPPY USA dates back to the 1980s when she was the First Lady of Arkansas. Recognizing that many families with young children weren’t getting what they needed, she brought the HIPPY program to the state to help teach parents how to prepare their children for school.
As a nonpartisan nonprofit, HIPPY USA is supported by legislators, community leaders, school administrators and others in order to successfully implement its model.
HIPPY USA helps to close the education achievement gap for families in 140 communities across the country. Peer parent educators work with families in the home to support parents in their critical role as their child’s first and most important teacher. Parents in underserved neighborhoods are provided with a set of carefully developed curriculum, books and materials designed to strengthen their children’s cognitive and early literacy skills and social/emotional and physical development.
Research has found the HIPPY model to be effective in improving school readiness, parent involvement, school attendance, classroom behavior, standardized test scores and academic performance by children participating in HIPPY.
Some of the research findings include:
HIPPY parents become more engaged in reading, talking and working with their children.
HIPPY improves children’s school readiness.
HIPPY children demonstrate higher achievement in school.
HIPPY parents are involved in their children’s schools and education.