DC Influencer: Lisa Clough, WomenHeart

Lisa Clough, VP, public and patient programs, WomenHeart, discusses how celeb outreach helped the group educate women about heart disease.

DC Influencer: Lisa Clough, WomenHeart
How did this campaign come together and why use Vanessa Williams as a celebrity spokesperson?
Handbags & Hearts, a national patient-education campaign of which WomenHeart is the patient advocacy partner, was designed to educate women about the importance of carrying aspirin in the event of heart attack symptoms.

Vanessa Williams was chosen by Bayer HealthCare and agency Marina Maher Communications because of her family history of heart disease. She credibly delivered messages around the importance of knowing family heart health history.

In addition, black women are a high-risk population for heart disease, yet their awareness of the illness as the leading cause of death in women is very low.

There are a lot of heart health initiatives for women. How did you differentiate from efforts such as Go Red for Women?
We are the only national patient organization supporting women living with heart disease. We value any opportunity to educate women about how they can prepare and protect themselves in the event of unexpected heart attack signs and symptoms.

The message about carrying aspirin at all times and being prepared is unique, so the media and the public valued us highlighting it.

What's the hardest part when performing outreach to women about being heart conscious?
There are so many health messages for women. However, when they learn that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women - more than all cancers combined - it gets their attention. It is important for women to recognize that they can take preventive measures and be prepared.

How do you measure the success of the campaign? By recounting the loss of both of her grandmothers to heart attacks, Vanessa helped to spread the campaign's message, which raised $200,000 for WomenHeart in 2013.

Media outreach for the effort resulted in 350 million media impressions in print, television, and radio, including The Today Show, Rachael Ray, and Morning Joe, and articles in magazines such as People.

In addition, tweets and Facebook posts about the campaign reached 312,000 consumers and generated more than 85,000 Facebook shares.

More is planned and we look forward to ensuring all women have a well-equipped purse.

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