Members of the American College of Chest Physicians were able to screen the lung health of more than 300 people in four hours during Phoenix Lung Health Day in August. This feat was made possible by a multifaceted media campaign that resulted in more than 28 million media mentions. One of them, a television interview with an ACCP physician on lung health screening, resulted not just in an on-air spirometry test on the Phoenix news anchor, but also got the attention of Olympic gold-medal swimmer Breeja Larson, who was on the set for a later interview and decided she’d like to get tested too. “When someone who is obviously healthy like that shows that she values getting checked, it helps others see the value in it too,” says ACCP CEO and Executive Vice President Paul Markowski, CAE.

It can be difficult to get a big turnout for public-facing events such as this one, but ACCP has been getting a lot of practice with promotion with this and other events it has been holding in partnership with The CHEST Foundation’s OneBreath initiative. Sometimes it’s just luck, as was the case with getting the Olympian to participate, but according to Markowski, the success of these programs mostly comes from research, hard work, and the passion members have for lung screening and raising awareness of overlooked lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

“If you’re passionate about what you do, it usually turns out to be a pretty successful event,” says Markowski. He adds, “When our members talk from the heart, the media wants to grab onto it.”