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ADA selects national communications firm

The ADA is partnering with a national communications firm as part of a renewed commitment to educating the country on access and optimal oral health care.

The Association announced in February that it selected global strategic communications firm Fleishman-Hillard. This came after a competitive review of 12 national and global agencies that began last year by a workgroup appointed by ADA President Robert A. Faiella, following the adoption of House Resolution 75-2012.

The St. Louis-based firm has assembled a team of communications professionals from several of their U.S. offices to help the ADA tell dentistry's story and make the Board of Trustees' Call to Action for Oral Health plan a centerpiece for effectively advancing the Association's access to oral health solutions.

"The Fleishman-Hillard team engaged our leadership team with an evidence-based strategic approach that illustrated keen understanding of our goals; the ADA's many stakeholders across public, professional and policy audiences; and the needs of the current health care environment," Dr. Faiella said. "We are confident that they will serve as a strong partner in our efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of oral health to overall health and advance real solutions to improving the oral health of our nation."

Funding for this national public relations initiative is made possible by House Res. 75H-2012, which began with the vision and leadership of the Council on Communications. The council proposed engaging a national public relations agency to help the Association enhance its capacity to lead the oral health conversation and elevate issues that are essential to providing access to optimal oral health for all Americans. The Board supported the resolution, and the House adopted it at the 2012 ADA Annual Session in San Francisco.

Fleishman-Hillard will be charged with developing communications strategies and messages; proactively pitching major oral health stories to national media; and creating toolkits and other multimedia materials that dental societies can also use as issues management resources. Results will be measured by metrics based on media coverage, attitude, awareness and perception surveys, digital traffic and specifically identified program objectives.

"We feel privileged to be chosen for this critical assignment for the ADA, which will not only make a positive impact on the nation's oral health care but signifies the next era of ADA's pioneering leadership in disease prevention and patient care," said Betsy Neville, senior partner at Fleishman-Hillard and chair of North American reputation management, who will lead the team dedicated to the Association.

The goal of the House resolution—and the assignment for Fleishman-Hillard—is to build and enhance dentists' reputation and the profession; position the dentist as a fully-trained doctor who leads the dental team; demonstrate dentistry's leadership in breaking down barriers to oral health for all Americans; and ensure that the media portrays dentistry fairly and accurately.

The call to action includes frequently and consistently communicating dentistry's positive story and the contributions dentists make to oral health; providing care now by leveraging capacity in the current system so dentists can provide that care through innovative collaborations and working with other health care providers; working to prevent disease before it starts; and providing people with the knowledge that empowers them to be good stewards of their own oral health.