Transitions Optical Inc. is the leading supplier of Transitions® lenses, photochromic eyeglass lenses that automatically adjust in changing outdoor conditions. Havas PR has supported Transitions as its trade PR agency for more than 25 years. These days the company has its eye on broadening appeal for its lenses and has done extensive research to understand who is and isn't buying Transitions lenses. It's done a great job of appealing to older presbyopia consumers, but among a much larger segment—young, fashion-conscious, single-vision (meaning lenses are corrected for only one field of vision) consumers—the brand was considered dorky and outdated. We knew from research (namely, focus groups with younger consumers) that a lot of people would change their minds if they had the right information. We needed to create a campaign that overhauled Transition's image for a younger audience.
Our PR objective was to find a way to change the conversations that eye care professionals (ECPs) are having with their peers and patients around Transitions lenses—and to show more single-vision wearers that Transitions lenses can be just what they're looking for. Specifically, we aimed to increase the number of positive social posts and blog posts mentioning Transitions lenses among ECPs who are millennials or serve many millennial patients. Transitions' vision: Build a group of engaged ECPs and create ways for them to have discussions (online and in person) around topics like business strategies, career do's and don'ts, trends in eyewear and, of course, the Transitions products.
Brand tracking research done by Transitions shows that the No. 2 reason eye care professionals don't recommend Transitions lenses to all patients is because of style. This brought us to our idea of creating a team of Change Agents for Transitions. Havas PR and some Transitions staffers began networking and scouring social media and the internet to uncover people in the optical trade who are millennials, serve many millennial patients, blog and tweet and are very social, and/or have been interview subjects for trade media articles. Once we found a good fit, we'd gauge their interest (and ask them to suggest peers). We recruited and worked with 19 ECPs from across the U.S. and Canada to become the inaugural group of Transitions Change Agents.
To equip the Change Agents to carry out Transitions' strategy and vision and keep them engaged with the brand, we issued monthly "challenges." The main responsibilities of the Change Agents are to execute six of the 12 monthly challenges (such as July's: to wear Transitions adaptive sun lenses while doing a summer activity and describe the result); to share findings on their social channels and Transitions' social channels; to review and comment on fellow Change Agents' posts or a social post or image; and to connect with peers at industry events.
We invited the group, for example, to attend Transitions Academy, which is Transitions Optical's annual invitation-only educational and marketing forum for optical industry professionals. Havas PR created opportunities for them to network with one another, industry professionals, Transitions team members and optical media, especially at two VIP events that we planned. Our team also made sure all their reservations were secure and that they had their first pair of Transitions lenses to wear there.
We had the Change Agents download the free team communication app called Slack to connect with Transitions and with one another. To serve as a liaison between the group and Transitions (and to serve as our reality check as we continued developing the program), we also dubbed one Change Agent as a peer leader. She gave a short presentation to Transitions Academy that we developed with her. The group's feedback even saved Transitions money when they said an event sponsorship that the company was considering wouldn't be a good investment. And for all the Change Agents' hard work, there are of course perks, including a free fit of a Transitions lens product, a GoPro (which arrived in a welcome kit our team gathered, designed and packed up) to document challenges, plus opportunities for product previews and media coverage.
Many Change Agents are going beyond what we expected, completing more than the required six challenges, wearing their Transitions lenses all the time and posting more than simply the answers to those challenges. Here's just one sample: "Did you know 74% of women with vitamin D deficiency also had dry eye in a recent study? Get out there and enjoy your porch or deck or patio; go for a walk after work; see some sun! (@transitionslenses or sunglasses needed of course!)."
We are also taking the Change Agents' opinions and expertise and using them to reach our media goals. We featured four Change Agents, for example, in an advertorial series that ran in Vision Care Product News, generating 333,900 impressions. As of Oct. 4, 2016, the Change Agents posted 453 times, generating 7,825 engagements (likes, shares, comments) and a total reach through combined networks of 1.08 million since January 2016.
Transitions also asked one of the Agents to present with them at an optometry school event. The Agent helped our client reach hundreds of future optometrists with the message that choosing premium products like Transitions lenses for your practice is a smart business decision.
We are now recruiting new Change Agents and asking almost all current ones to renew their contracts with us; so far, everyone who has responded wants to re-up. Said one: "I LOVE being a Transitions Change Agent, and I look forward to growing the brand even more in 2017."
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