Ophthalmologists sharpen focus on dangers of decorative lenses

Non-prescription contact lenses are popular, particularly around Halloween, but selling lenses without a prescription is illegal and can damage the wearer's eyes.

Organization: American Academy of Ophthalmology (San Francisco)
Campaign: Want Scary Eyes? The Dangers of Non-prescription Decorative Contact Lenses
Duration: Sept. 26-October 31, 2011
Budget: $37,500

Non-prescription contact lenses are popular, particularly around Halloween, but selling lenses without a prescription is illegal and can damage the wearer's eyes.

"Too many teens and adults injure or even sacrifice their vision to look cool on Halloween," says Allison Neves, PR director for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Strategy
The academy wanted to raise awareness about the risks associated with the lenses, elevate its own profile, and drive traffic to its EyeSmart website.

Tactics
The organization's PR team created two video PSAs and an ANR. They also wrote and distributed national and localized social media press releases that included images and links to the PSAs. In addition, the academy created media FAQs, wrote Q&As, prepared physician talking points for speaking engagements, and organized a national RMT.

The team designed and created a downloadable ophthalmology toolkit containing campaign resources for doctors, including press releases, PowerPoint presentations, downloadable posters for doctors' offices, and social media posts to be distributed via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The academy bought targeted Yahoo and Facebook ads that directed users to the EyeSmart web page, as well as PSAs dedicated to the campaign.

Results
Approximately 300 articles ran in print, including in the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, while 100 TV segments, including on ABC News Now, promoted the initiative.

The RMT secured 41 radio interviews that aired 175 times. Website visitors rose 52%, from 35,000 in September to 53,000 in October. The video PSAs were viewed 20,000 times.

Future
"This Halloween we want to build off of our work," explains Neves. "It's an ongoing battle."

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