What you need to know before giving a chiropractic interview or an adjustment on video.
Read Time: 6 mins
To all of you who have taken my class since I included the section on how to do an interview, this post will reiterate why I spend an hour in class covering the importance of achieving a professional interview. For others, it will also introduce why I emphasize that chiropractors should not adjust on TV interviews, and why, if you have YouTube videos of adjusting, you should take them down.
What are we hoping for?
I understand…with TV interviews as was aired last week on Inside Edition, we are hoping that we can reach an audience not already connected with our understanding of chiropractic. In our highest hopes, and from our chiropractic perspective, we may be blind to the reality that the medium controls the message. In other words, we want the public to see chiropractic as we do. Great intent, except for when the medium that is portraying our attempt is adversarial towards chiropractic to begin with. Was Inside Edition's intent the same as ours? Hardly. Their intent was controversy and sensationalism. The intent of the TV producers is easy to peg. You have to find out in advance and proceed accordingly.
A few weeks ago, the producers of Inside Edition called me asking to be a guest on their upcoming TV segment on chiropractic and kids. As I teach in class, I sought to discover if this was going to be a "friendly" interview or a "hostile" one. I initiated my investigation by asking the caller what he knew about chiropractic, specifically chiropractic and kids. He knew nothing.
I asked him what the tone of the interview would be. He sounded confused. I inquired, "Well, are you looking for people to get a greater understanding of the health benefits of chiropractic or are you more interested in airing a controversial piece, such as had been recently aired in Australia?" When he responded, "Ah yes, Australia, we want to have some coverage of that!", I knew immediately where this piece was heading… Controversy. Sensationalism. Not the PR I am interested in for chiropractic.
Now, if my conversation with him had gone in a different direction, I may have agreed to do the interview. But as I say in class, airing their bastardized version of what chiropractic care for kids is on TV does NOT serve you or the profession. Or the children.
Let's not kid ourselves, hoping that the audience will "see through their biased agenda" does not "open up the conversation" from a perspective that we want.
Rule #1: Know the consequences.
- Chiropractic does not share the cultural authority medicine does. TV shows make money off of their views. Controversy and sensationalism sell. Oops…they won.
- Please realize that even if you are willing to suffer the consequences of a poor representation of you, you have a greater responsibility here. You are representing the profession at large. Everything you say and do will impact all of us.
- Get out of your skewed perspective that an interview with an ignorant or hostile interviewer will come across making you or the profession look good. No matter how much you say in such an interview to "justify" chiropractic care, they have the final edits. I have seen some pretty creative "cuts and pastes" to get their agenda across. You can come in defensively after the fact on your Facebook page or even a letter to the network, but really, who sees that? Not the 5 million people who watched, that's for sure.
Rule #2: Don't adjust on camera.
This goes for TV interviews and YouTube as well.
Yes, I know chiropractors think that showing an adjustment will accomplish the following:
- Show the audience what an adjustment feels like. "After all, chiropractic is so great…if they see an adjustment, they will want it!"
- Demonstrate that kids get adjusted. "See, other moms let their kids get adjusted!"
- Convince parents to overcome their doubts. "Look at how gentle an adjustment is!"
- Achieve cultural authority. The intent to accomplish these objectives is admirable and definitely my intent as well. The means does not accomplish it.
Let's break it down point by point.
Problem #1: Watching an adjustment does not give the experience of one. It is void of the initial consultation, building a relationship, explaining physiology, and the experience of a chiropractic exam.
Solution: Much more effective is "interacting" with the audience by showing an exam, and explaining what you are finding. Leave the adjustment to the office setting.
Problem #2: Showing an adjustment to demonstrate that kids are under care. From a parent's perspective, look closely at some of the children's faces. Did their expressions serve to be inviting to a parent who does not know what chiropractic is?
Solution: Much more productive are testimonials from parents about their positive experiences with chiropractic. Even then, it is imperative to have knowledgeable parents discuss chiropractic in its correct context.
Problem #3: Editing can and often will be used to support the agenda of the publisher. Inside Edition opens their segment with an adjustment scene that was cut from a YouTube video from Australia. The video that this scene was cut from originally included an exam, adjustment and post-visit with parental testimonials. Inside Edition edited the scene and audaciously added an infant crying during the adjustment. What the audience sees (and now believes) is that babies scream during an adjustment. Far from pleasant or gentle.
Solution: Show a pleasant interaction with the baby where they cannot cut and paste. Lying them supine and demonstrating a postural analysis keeps their happy face in front of the camera. Also, a simple analysis as you explain your findings is a lot more educational than an adjustment.
Problem #4: For cultural authority, they will always interview an MD. If the network is intending to create controversy, they will pick an MD who is adversarial. He will refute safety. If you discuss symptoms, he will say there is no literature to substantiate it. Inside Edition played into the public's perception of MDs as having authority and undisputable knowledge. Even in spite of his emotionally unsubstantiated claims that chiropractic is an "unpleasant experience", and "completely unethical", he was made out to be the voice of reason.
Solution: Explain chiropractic to the interviewer beforehand. Show the studies on safety. Show the ICPA rebuttal to the pediatrics paper that they always refer to. (This is discussed in class.) Explain the amount of pressure of an adjustment as taught by the ICPA. Clarify that chiropractic is not the treatment of symptoms. Focus on physiological function. Ask to assist in selecting the MD to be interviewed, perhaps one who refers to chiropractors or one whose kids are under care. If the network refuses your input, take the cue and skip the interview.
I invite you to watch this segment as if you are a parent who knows nothing about chiropractic care for kids, not from the perspective of you as a chiropractor or your patients who are under care. Inside Edition - The Chiro Kids: Some Moms Swear by It, but Is Chiropractic Care Safe for Babies?
So, were any of the above items accomplished?
The Cultural Reality
You can argue from now until the cows come home about how you think this PR was perceived as positive by the public. You can talk about how biased the network was, cutting all of the wonderful information you offered. But the truth of the matter is, for the very few people you will have as audience for this post viewing discussion, compared to the audience the actual TV segment had, you can never take back the manipulated perception of the millions of people who saw it.
I am asking you to critically review your notes of my class and consider the points discussed there. I am asking, as I did in class, for you to consider your public representation of chiropractic on your website, YouTube, and interviews. It is not about you. It is about the future of the profession and our ability and rights to effectively reach more families.
We are at a crucial time for kids and chiropractic. If we are to ever expand our public acceptance beyond the mere 10% we have (I know, some will say I am being generous with this stat), it is imperative we think in terms of how we are perceived, not what we hope they will perceive.
I want all of us to come out ahead in this… so much depends on it.