Jazz legend Lionel Hampton and poster-child Rachel Chaikof educated the public and were on the cover of the May 1994 edition of The Hearing Review for Better Hearing & Speech Month.

Jazz legend Lionel Hampton and poster-child Rachel Chaikof educated the public and were featured on the cover of the May 1994 edition of The Hearing Review for Better Hearing & Speech Month.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). In the 1980s and ‘90s, BHSM was a pretty big deal. Not only did all the professional organizations in hearing healthcare band together to promote it, but a lot of dispensing offices made a concerted effort to appropriate marketing dollars for May—knowing full well their competitors would be doing the same thing. The results were often impressive. For a relatively small field, we made some big noise throughout the country during May—locally and nationally—by promoting hearing healthcare through advertisements, TV and radio PSAs, newspaper articles, poster-children, and endorsements by everyone from comedian Lesley Nielsen to musician Lionel Hampton.

BHSM for the 21st Century. There is now a movement afoot to breathe new life into BHSM and recast it for the 21st Century—and social media. In the past year, all the national professional organizations (AAA, ASHA, ADA, and IHS), along with the nation’s largest consumer advocacy group for people with hearing loss, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), and one of the nation’s most influential groups related to cochlear implants, the ACI Alliance, have signed onto a public awareness campaign designed to bring hearing healthcare to the forefront. Sponsored  by the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), the campaign and support materials can be found at www.hearwellstayvital.org, and this year it uses two simple hashtags with two simple messages:

  • #HearWellStayVital: Hearing well allows people to engage in those activities that inspire passion—things that make life fun and meaningful—and hearing healthcare is a crucial component in maintaining vitality.
  • #CheckYourHearing: One of the first steps to hearing well is to check your hearing every year and seek help if you have a hearing loss.

Get your message out! The hearwellstayvital.org website contains a great variety of materials you can use to piggy-back your own promotions on BHSM, while broadcasting the two key messages above. The FREE downloadable materials, found at www.hearwellstayvital.org/support-materials, include:

  • A social media toolkit;
  • Broadcast videos (with and without closed captioning);
  • 15-, 30-, and 60-second web clips (in .mov and .wmv file formats);
  • A great assortment of images and posters, and
  • Icons and short messages for social media.

Mark your calendar and/or schedule your posts on May 1 and May 15! In particular, on May 1 and May 15,  the HearWellStayVital campaign is asking all hearing healthcare stakeholders to post these two unified messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media:

On May 1:
Good hearing affects our overall health and wellness. Be proactive during #BetterHearingMonth in May. #CheckYourHearing with a hearing care professional as part of your annual wellness check. Learn more at www.hearwellstayvital.org. #HearWellStayVital #BHSM [link message to :30 second campaign video]

On May 15:
#HearWellStayVital. Hearing loss affects 1 in 8 people in the US. Maintaining hearing health helps keep us vital so we can enjoy the things we love most. #CheckYourHearing wellness every year. Learn more at www.hearwellstayvital.org. #BetterHearingMonth #BHSM [link to :30 second campaign or choice of :15 second character video]

Let’s refresh BHSM and get a unified message to consumers: May is for better hearing!

Karl Strom About the author: Karl Strom is editor of The Hearing Review and has been reporting on hearing healthcare issues for over 25 years.