Award-winning PSA warns teens that decorative contacts damage eyesight

With two clever videos and media outreach, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s public service announcements garner more than 315 million media impressions.

Even though decorative lenses are popular with Twilight, Lady Gaga and Avatar fans, it doesn’t mean they’re good for their health.

In fact, wearing nonprescription decorative lenses could cause blindness. To warn people about this and other dangers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology tied its latest PSA about these lenses to Halloween, a popular purchasing time for the lenses.

With a tiny budget and just two people, the marketing team released hundreds of media press releases, with links to its two video PSAs. National and regional press lists were targeted. The team created “This is your brain on drugs”-style Internet video PSAs. The 30-second video was for teens; the 90-second video was for parents.

It didn’t just stop with making the videos. Here are a few other things it did, according to Allison Neves, who submitted the entry:

  • Created Q&As and talking points for spokespeople and developed FAQs for media.
  • Drafted social media posts for doctors, partners and Academy staff to use on Twitter and Facebook pages.
  • Produced downloadable posters for doctors’ offices.
  • Created an online ophthalmology practice promotional tool kit of campaign resources for doctors that included a press release template, social media posts, a downloadable poster and PowerPoint presentations for community speaking opportunities.
  • Wrote Facebook and Yahoo ad campaigns targeted at teens.
  • Promoted the campaign via all American Academy of Ophthalmology member channels, such as member newsletters and online communities for ophthalmologists.
  • Scheduled and posted decorative contact lens-focused information on EyeSmart Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the month of October.

“The story was compelling and we had created strong supporting materials and executed cost-effective, wide-reaching tactics that propelled the campaign and our message,” Neves says.

The results were impressive. Visits to its EyeSmart website increased by 52 percent. Its targeted Yahoo banner ads received 1 million impressions and 800 clicks. More than 1,500 stories appeared in the media, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, HealthDay and the Daily Mail. There were 100 TV segments about it, in LA, Dallas and New Orleans. The radio media tour secured 41 radio interviews that aired 175 times.

There were approximately 315 million media impressions, Neves says.

Thanks to the American Academy of Ophthalmology for keeping everyone’s eyes a little bit safer, and congratulations for winning the 2012 PR Daily Award for Best Public Service Announcement.

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