A method for media

The AOP’s Serena Box discusses why raising awareness of eye health is more important than ever and how the AOP is planning to do it

Eye exam

Our recent membership surveys have told us that the majority of members want to see the AOP champion the views of the optical profession – building a more public profile of optometry and eye health issues. Taking this feedback on board, we’ve devised a new project for 2017 which aims to do just that.

Launched in February this year, the Voice of Optometry focuses on bringing topical optical issues to the fore, in the form of a professional insight panel. 

Gaining traction 

A professional insight panel is a tried and tested method, in other sectors, to gain traction with the media. A great example of this is the British Veterinary Association, who has launched some powerful media and lobbying campaigns off the back of its findings from its version of this initiative – increasing media coverage by nearly 140%.    

"Launched in February this year, the Voice of Optometry project focuses on bringing topical optical issues to the fore"

To make the same gains through the Voice of Optometry, our panel needed to represent a significant proportion of members’ views, so an important aspect of this project was the panel recruitment drive behind it. Over seven weeks, we recruited more than 1000 panel members. Having successfully met our target, we will now be using the statistics from the survey to promote positive stories in the media that not only increase the public’s understanding of optometry but also instil better eye health habits. 

One of the key benefits of the project is our ability to build on our educational content for the public, including videos, infographics and social media imagery – assets that can be easily understood and shared online. The amount of exposure that we can achieve through these types of materials can be seen in our recent contact lens campaign to support the General Optical Council’s first Love Your Lenses Week. We developed a selection of new public facing resources on contact lens wear and care including two patient leaflets, an advice video and blog. Our ’60 second advice – contact lenses’ video had a reach of more than 40,000 across our social media channels.   

What our panel is saying 

Responses from our insight panel indicate that optometrists can and want to play a much broader role in areas affecting the wider public. Some of the prominent themes from our results include vision standards in relation to safe driving, medical advice for eye conditions and non-tolerance issues. We’ve also gained interesting statistics about common eye health misconceptions and the lifestyle factors impacting eye health such as UV damage and smoking. A number of new campaigns will be launching throughout the year so be sure to watch this space.      

Get involved 

Being a panel member means you take part in three surveys a year. With a total of less than an hour each year it is a small commitment but the expert knowledge we gain is invaluable.   

Our first survey is now complete but there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved as we launch further surveys throughout the year. 

You can also take part by helping us to share our results and messages when campaigns go live – find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @The_AOP to stay up to date. 

Your voice

To sign-up to the Voice of Optometry as a panel member, visit the AOP website.  

Image credit: Getty