Making Complex Topics Relatable

Eye Exam

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Zika. Now keep your hand up if you had heard of the disease before the outbreak.

I imagine most of your hands are down now. Don’t worry, mine is too.

We faced a similar challenge when we began helping the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) with media support and audience engagement. We had to raise awareness of resources available to help people with a disease, those at risk and the general public has never heard of. Still with me?

What if I told you this was an incurable eye disease that’s the leading cause of blindness in the United States? That it affects 10 million Americans today with that number set to rise rapidly? I bet you’re paying attention now — and that was our pitch.

We broke down information about the disease in a simple way that communicated information about age-related macular degeneration, as well as how individuals could minimize their risk of developing it.

Then we got our messaging out there. Here are a few things we did:

1. Integrated media campaign

Last year, AMDF launched the book “Eat Right for Your Sight,” which focuses on simple recipes made with eye-healthy ingredients. We timed the book launch announcement with May: Healthy Vision Month. We then built an integrated media campaign that intertwined social, earned and owned media to maximize our audience reach. We also hosted a recipe contest on AMDF’s Facebook page and a corresponding blog party, where more than 35 engaged food and wellness bloggers wrote about the contest, reviewed the book and contributed their own eye-healthy recipes. Our efforts resulted in top-level placements such as Fox and Men’s

2. Fresh, relatable content

Lifestyle and diet are two factors that can help minimize the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. They also happen to be topics that people pay attention to, and which lend themselves to numbered, Top 10-style lists. By mapping a well-thought-out editorial calendar with compelling visual content highlighting top eye-healthy ingredients and lifestyle tweaks, we’ve grown AMDF’s Facebook audience from 168 page likes to more than 5,500! And more important, we’ve seen an increase in audience engagement.

3. Partnerships

When we found out that kale happens to be a superfood for the eyes, we saw a natural partnership opportunity with the organizers of National Kale Day. AMDF became a sponsor and was included in a variety of National Kale Day promotional materials. As a result of this partnership, we met top health reporters at a media breakfast, which in turn resulted in a first-person column by the founder of AMDF in a top outlet: Everyday Health. This placement increased our audience engagement on Facebook by almost 200 percent.

Try some of these strategic approaches the next time you’re developing a campaign for a client with specialized knowledge on complex topics. Especially on issues that might not be top-of-mind with their potential audience and media – much like Zika before the outbreak.

Get ahead of the curve. This way, when your audience is asked if they’ve heard of something that could potentially affect them, you’re in a room full of raised hands.