How this Chiropractor Uses PR to Realign Consumer Perceptions

By David Martin

According to the end-all-be-all of internet knowledge, Wikipedia, the chiropractic field is a smidge over 120 years old.

While other medical fields are much older, 120 years is still a pretty long time. Certainly long enough for perceptions of chiropractic to concrete themselves in the popular mind.

For example, what do you think when you hear the word “chiropractor”? Chances are for many of you, popping and cracking your back came to mind. And while there is much more to that field, it has long been branded in such a way.

So, how do alternative takes on this form of treatment work around those preexisting notions? I talked recently with Dr. Dave Aitken of Tonal Spine — a network spinal care practice — about this and his plans on realigning consumer perceptions.

There are nuggets in what he shared that can be applied to countless industries.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Why (and when) did you decide to start your practice in Chattanooga and what is it about this city that helps young businesses thrive?

I launched Tonal Spine with my fiance, Emerald, in 2016 out of our living room, and after we developed some good patient relationships, we moved to Chattanooga’s North Shore where we’ve been ever since.

Chattanooga is really amazing for a young business like ours because the community values the benefits small businesses provide. We’ve been really amazed to see how supportive the environment is here. Groups like Co.Lab and the Business Development Center are incredibly helpful. But beyond that, the overall commitment that locals have to cultivating new businesses made it an incredibly appealing place to start Tonal Spine.

If you had to explain network spinal care and its benefits in the proverbial "elevator pitch" scenario, how would you do it?

Network care utilizes gentle contacts to the spine and nervous system to release old defense patterns that the nervous system has developed. These defense patterns manifest themselves in unhealthy tension and other downstream degenerative effects that hold you back from enjoying your highest levels of energy and vitality.

What are the main differences between what we might consider "traditional" chiropractic and what you do at Tonal Spine?

The most noticeable difference is our use of gentle contacts. We zero in on behavioral issues, focusing on the habits your nervous system has subconsciously created (mostly in your childhood). Also, our aim is not to "fix” your physical ailments. Instead, we work to restore your body's ability to adapt. And while much of the chiropractic world focuses on that, we take it a little further by working to help your nervous system develop strategies that you otherwise wouldn't be able to create.

How then, with PR/marketing in mind, do you make sure prospective patients understand and see value in that difference?

Emerald and I work to communicate that network care improves the nervous system by training it instead of “fixing” existing problems. In doing that, we don’t try to define ourselves as being better than other alternatives. Rather, we say that if you're looking to retrain past unconscious behaviors that have limited your mind, body, or spirit, that we are here to make that process as effortless and natural as possible.

What specific things are you currently pursuing to propel that distinction into the public's awareness?

For the foreseeable future, our efforts will revolve around education since most people are not familiar with network care. When it comes to health and healing, earning and keeping trust is paramount, especially when you’re introducing a new concept to someone.

With that in mind, we’ll be doing a bunch of explaining, featuring the Tonal Spine staff, in as many formats as possible — because, sure branding is important, but we’ve got to teach people about our methods and philosophy first.

People can expect to see us investing in:

  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Blog content
  • Speaking engagements

Then we’ll be distributing all those items across multiple channels from social media to e-newsletters and more.

What do you envision the future looking like for Tonal Spine and your patients?

The number of chiropractors — especially network care practitioners — who’ve turned their trade into riches is fairly small. I chose network care because I believe passionately in a person’s ability to grow past the limitations hampering their lives.

So when I think of the future, I won’t necessarily tie “success” to the size of our bank accounts. I envision Tonal Spine growing beyond our single-location practice so we can serve the majority of Chattanooga with network care. Human beings interact healthfully when they're glowing on their best day, and I’d love to see how a community like Chattanooga would function when more people are enjoying a baseline of health that is far above average.

Chattanooga nurtured our business to its current healthy state. I want to return the favor.


David Martin is a co-founder of Heed Public Relations.