Sometimes staff can make great advocates for the American Heart Association. Take Katie Seay, Patient Market Manager, for example. Until recently, she worked as the communications director for Jacksonville, Florida and handled media advocacy efforts across the state. Katie's passion for the American Heart Association - and interest in advocacy - certainly came into play during the 2014 legislative session.
A bill was moving through the House and Senate with very good intentions. The bill, if passed, would prohibit minors from purchasing e-cigarettes and force retailers to sell the e-cigarette and other nicotine dispensing devices behind the counter like other tobacco products. So after the Senate had passed the bill, the House was moving along nicely when a bomb exploded in the form of a preemption amendment. The language would strike all existing local county and municipality tobacco ordinances from the books and prevent them from adding more as we went forward.
Enter the American Heart Association and its tobacco control partners. Through the collaboration of all the organizations involved, an action plan was created. Katie, along with several coalition partners, worked the highly successful media plan. First steps for the group were to create letters to the Editor (LTEs), Op Ed pieces, press releases, media event releases, talking points for volunteers and then coordinating all media outlets around the state. Katie, taking the lead, coordinated all the edits and changes to all the documents, made sure each organization signed off on the final product.
The kick off to the media campaign was to hold a press event at the capitol. Katie and fellow PR person, Lisa Hall, coordinated all the media outlets and we received massive coverage from the event. Once the press event was over, Katie released the hounds, so to speak, working with communications directors across the state to launch LTE after LTE with Op Ed’s and phone calls and interviews.
With Katie’s efforts we managed to rally around a press event in Tallahassee, publish over 90 online and print articles about the preemption language, garner massive public support around our issue and ultimately with her efforts in the media and working with our coalition partners, we were able to remove the bad preemption language from the bill.
While the successful campaign was a true team effort, we want to thank you, Katie Seay, for helping us protect our youth from the highly addictive drug nicotine.