Communicating with your state lawmakers can be a daunting task, but with these resources you can confidentaly advoacte on behalf of the profession.
The AOA provides access to optometric-specific tools and resources to inform policymakers, health care professionals, patients, and the public. These research-based materials will assist with scope expansion legislation.
Communications overview and recommendations
- Template letter to lawmakers
- Media interview tips and techniques
- Sample media pitch
- Opinion editorial how-to-guide
- Opinion editorial template
- Social media best practices
- Sample social media messages
Scope of practice tools to help you engage with the media and the public
Some of these materials are intended for distribution to the media, while other materials are for wider distribution to the public. Additionally, several materials are for advocates' internal reference/use only to gain a better understanding of how to engage with media and the public. In all cases, advocates are encouraged to modify the materials as needed, particularly to reflect aspects of the legislation unique to their state.
As you prepare to ramp up communications efforts around scope of practice, it's important to understand these efforts will meet opposition. As such, you should be prepared to be proactive. Before launching communications activities based on the materials in this section, we recommend you:
- Update the homepage of your chapter website with core content that supports the value of expanded scope for doctors of optometry (i.e. fact sheets, supportive news articles, etc.).
- Be prepared with talking points that expose the mistruths that ophthalmology will begin to spread in response to your efforts.
- Identify credible spokespeople and doctors ready to place local and state opinion editorials or letters-to-the-editor. As appropriate, conduct media preparation calls with spokespeople.
- Prepare a social media and general media plan, focused on elevating doctors of optometry and the care they provide in your state and across the country.
Tips to keep in mind when advocating for expanded scope of practice via earned and social media
- Keep it local: It's important to address the broader value of expanded scope of practice, but make sure to tailor communications to reflect the data and news relevant to your state. This will increase the likelihood of media coverage and social media dialogue.
- Pay attention to the opposition: Keep an eye out for opportunities to draft responsive letters to the editor, opinion editorials or social media posts to counteract arguments from the opposition.
- Be supportive: Submit opinion editorials to supportive legislators' local papers to thank them for their stance. Additionally, you can also thank legislators who introduce bills or support expanded scope on social media, either by posting or "liking" posts that they, or others, have distributed on the topic.
Personalize these communication tools based on your location and experiences:
Materials to be modified and shared with lawmakers
- Letter to lawmakers template: Advocates can send messages to their elected officials that will impact their legislators' votes. Lawmakers typically use their incoming mail to judge the importance of pending legislation to their constituents.
Materials to be modified and shared with media
- Sample media pitch: E-mail to target reporters to gauge their interest in covering the issue. Outreach may result in a media interview with a spokesperson who can speak credibly about the benefits of expanded scope of practice.
- Opinion editorial (op-ed) template: An op-ed, short for "opposite the editorial," is a 500-750 word piece expressing an opinion on a current topic and published in a publication by a contributor. The template is an example to be referenced and tailored.
Materials to be modified and distributed externally
- Social media messages: Messages intended for advocates and the public to use with social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook. These messages may be used as written or customized to address state-specific issues.
Materials for advocates internal reference/use only
- Media interview tips and techniques: Tips that will strengthen your ability to: define your position messages; face interviews with confidence and control; assure that your message reaches the audience; and enhance your relationships with media.
- Op-ed how-to-guide: Guidelines and "how-to's" to help you write, submit/pitch your op-ed, and ensure the op-ed is placed in your preferred media outlet.
- Social media best practices: Tips and techniques to help you communicate effectively on Facebook and Twitter, including the unique qualities of the platforms, best practices and things to consider when posting (e.g., length, hashtags, images, etc.).
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