DAA Media and Social Media Programs Raise the Profile of Dietitians and Promote Evidence-based Nutrition
  • Dietitians are increasingly working in a competitive space. Every day unqualified ‘experts’ push their views on diet and nutrition, including through the media and social media. As a profession, we have an important role in communicating credible, accurate, practical and engaging nutrition messages that will help people lead healthier lives. The public and the media are hungry for health and nutrition information – here’s our opportunity to shine!
     
    DAA Media Spokesperson’s Program: 15 years . . . and still going strong
    The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) has a well-established Media Spokesperson’s Program, which is a valuable part of DAA core business. The Association has 21 media-trained spokespeople, who are involved in an average of 60 media interviews per month, a database of more than 80 ‘APDs willing to speak with the media’, and another database of APDs able to be interviewed by journalism students.
     
    Support is provided for DAA Spokespeople from DAA’s communications and marketing unit, including through:

    • Annual media training
    • Key message briefings
    • Regular email updates and an annual teleconference
    • Robust policies and procedures
    • Media resources for professional development.

    Since its launch in 1999, the Spokesperson’s Program has grown to provide an important channel to:

    • Communicate accurate and practical nutrition information
    • Increase recognition of Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) as the experts in nutrition
    • Increase recognition of DAA as the peak body for dietitians.

    The DAA Spokesperson’s Program is leading the way in evidence-based media communications. Media monitoring, particularly online monitoring, and consumer and journalist surveys form the basis of evaluating DAA’s media influence.
     
    During the 2014 calendar year, tracking of the key words ‘Dietitians Association of Australia’ and ‘Accredited Practising Dietitian’ (APD) revealed 1,543 million opportunities to see and 9,565 mentions in the media. ‘Opportunities to see’ is defined as: The number of people who had the opportunity to see or hear DAA key words through print, broadcast and online media.
     
    DAA’s 2014 consumer survey (n=1,200) found public awareness of news stories about nutrition featuring a ‘Spokesperson for DAA’ at 21% (an increase of 6% from 2013), and awareness of our ‘APD’ at 46% (increase from 10% from 2013).  In addition, a survey of more than 60 Australian journalists in late 2014 found 82% rated DAA Spokespeople as either ‘Very useful’ (50%) or ‘Useful’ (32%) in providing comment on nutrition-related stories, and almost two thirds (58%) most often contact DAA for nutrition-related stories – the highest of the health-related organisations surveyed. DAA also ranked higher than other organisations (listed as prompts in the survey) for the quality of information provided. 
     
    According to current DAA Spokesperson Kate Gudorf, APDs must not only have a voice in the media, but a strong voice!  ‘With so many conflicting health and nutrition messages in the media, it is too easy for the public to become confused. People need to know who to trust as the nutrition experts and where to turn for reliable and accurate nutrition information. By having a strong media presence, APDs can stand out as the nutrition experts, promoting accurate and scientific nutrition information,’ said Ms Gudorf.
     
    DAA’s social media engagement: Making a real impact
    DAA operates seven social media platforms, helping the Association meet its strategic objectives – and providing another means of communicating evidence-based nutrition messages to key groups, including the media and the public, in an engaging way.
    In July this year, DAA launched an Instagram account. After only four weeks of being active and 13 photos being shared, DAA had more than 1,000 followers! Instagram is used to assist in promotion of the profession and APDs, to generate referrals to APDs, and for APDs to help clients meet their health goals. DAA uses the hashtags #APD #DAA  #SeeAnAPD  #SmartEating  #FuelFabulous  #dietitian.
     
    DAA is not only influential on Instagram (with many promising outcomes to come) but also on other platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. In 2014, referral to the DAA website from social media was 21,837 sessions (time people spend on the DAA website). Over just a six-month period this year (April to September), referral to the DAA website due to social media, at 22,363 sessions, has already exceeded the 2014 figures.
     
    Here are some other statistics from the first half of 2015:
     
    Facebook - currently 14,000 likes. 
    More than 2,100 ‘likes’ since January 2015
    Engaged (likes, comments or shares DAA posts) more than 16,000 people since January 2015
    Reached (potential to see a DAA post) more than 584,000 people since January 2015.
     
    Twitter - currently 4,000 followers
    More than 1,500 ‘follows’ since January 2015
    Engaged (favourites, retweets or mentions DAA tweets) more than 11,000 people since January 2015
    Reached (potential to see a DAA tweet) more than 438,000 since January 2015.
    The DAA National Conference #DAA2015 hashtag had 6.6million impressions throughout the week of the conference, which was three times the number of impressions than during the 2014 National Conference.
     
    DAA’s Media Spokesperson’s Program and social media initiatives are helping to position dietitians as the experts in nutrition, and to provide consistent and trustworthy nutrition information for the public. For further information about DAA’s leadership in these areas, contact DAA’s National Office on nationaloffice@daa.asn.au.
     
    Maree Hall APD AN
    Public Relations Dietitian