Getting the Word Out
When it comes to announcing your support group, get creative! Think about where IC patients may get their information. Here’s some ways to promote your group. You can also download this handout.
Physician’s Offices and Clinics
Physician’s offices and health clinics are some of the most obvious places to publicize your group. Getting the word out through this method can be as simple as making a few phone calls to physician offices, introducing yourself, and asking the staff to inform their IC patients about your group.
Consider providing these offices and clinics with something informational about when and where your meetings are held to give to their IC patients—simple flyers, brochures, post cards or business cards with information, as well as contact information where they can learn more. These offices are eager for information about the groups because it is a valuable resource to their time as well.
Local Hospital Communications
Ask if local hospitals will print information about meetings in their community education brochures, flyers, or magazines, which are then mailed to residents throughout the community.
Newspapers often have a community announcement section where you can post annoucements about events in the community. (Most newspapers today have this information available in an online form as well!) Newspaper notices are free!
Online Meeting Notices
To have your meetings listed on the ICA website and included in the ICA eNews (the ICA’s online newsletter), email firstname.lastname@example.org with your support group contact information (city, state, support group name, meeting dates and times, and contact information), if available. You can also share your meeting notices on the ICA Facebook page.
Websites and Social Networking Sites
Many support groups are utilizing the internet to spread the word about their group by creating a dedicated website or social networking site like Facebook.com or Twitter.com. Check out the ICA Facebook Fan Page and ICA Causes Site, follow the ICA on Twitter.
Helpful Support Group Hints
You may want to sign up for a dedicated email account for your support group through AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo to handle inquiries from patients. If you include your personal phone number in the contact information, consider setting “office hours” when you will be available to take calls.
Find a partner (or two) to help. Different leaders not only bring different talents to the leadership team, but if you are an IC patient as well as a support group leader, it is always nice to have someone who can take over the meetings when you don’t feel good.
To keep the cost of printing to a minimum:
- Supply physician offices with an electronic version of your flyer or brochure so they can print them out as needed for their IC patients. Additional flyers about special topics or guest speakers at your meetings can be made on an as needed basis.
- Order free business cards from VistaPrint.com.
- Ask if your local print shops offer discounts to organizations.
- Since color printing is more expensive, consider having documents printed in black ink on colored paper.
Below are a selection of templates for a variety different types of print materials you may be interested in using for your own support group:
- Sample Business Card for Support Group Leaders (Word) (pdf)
- Sample Calendar Entry (pdf)
- Sample Announcement Letter to Doctors (Word) (pdf)
- Sample Meeting Flyer:
- Sample Support Group Contact List (Excel)
You can find templates for these documents at bottom of this page. Feel free to adapt these flyers, postcards, and letters to include your group’s information, or use them as a starting point to create your own.
Meeting Sign-In Sheets
Finally, as you begin to have meetings, be sure to have a sign in sheet that you can use to create a mailing list for future meetings. These not only help track attendance, but the information can be added to your master contact list. Eventually, you will find you have a nice blend of newly diagnosed and veteran patients.
Revised Monday, August 31st, 2015