Hattaway Communications is thrilled to welcome Carrie Schum, a multi-talented communications strategist, as our new Executive Vice President. Carrie comes to Hattaway from the global communications firm Porter Novelli, where she led strategic planning, analytics, and research.

Carrie brings special expertise in audience insight, creative concept development, and campaign design and measurement. She has deep experience in brand strategy and social marketing, which combines tools and techniques from consumer marketing and the social sciences to encourage behaviors that benefit people and the planet.

Carrie has worked on campaigns to engage Americans in critical government programs, including the Earned Income Tax Credit for the Internal Revenue Service and Medicare Open Enrollment for the Department of Health and Human Services. She has a special passion for public health, and has developed behavior-change campaigns for issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention, vaccine safety, and tobacco prevention and control.

Carrie cut her teeth working with the truth campaign, an award-winning initiative that drastically reduced cigarette smoking among young adults in the United States. Below, she shares some of the crucial lessons from that experience.

The truth campaign’s distinctive logo.
What was your role in the truth campaign?

I worked on the original truth campaign in Florida and ran day-to-day communications operations from 1998–2000 — from media relations to advocacy training, youth summits, and ongoing engagement campaigns with youth throughout the state.

The truth campaign went national in 2000, and I helped to drive youth “counter-marketing” efforts in multiple states for the American Legacy Foundation (now known as the Truth Initiative). “Counter-marketing” was our term for marketing designed to counteract tobacco industry advertising to young people.

I’ve also worked on adult quit-smoking programs, including a multiyear national campaign to increase the use of best-practice interventions to help pregnant women quit.

What did the truth campaign teach you about strategy?

Each strategy has to be tailored to the issue, the audience, and the environment. That takes the hard work of doing the right research and getting to real insights about your audience. And you have to have courage, especially if there is a well-funded opposition, as there was with the tobacco industry and its multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns.

For the truth campaign, the critical issue was breaking through to our target audience of teens who said they were “open to smoking.” They believed smoking was cool and interesting, even if they hadn’t tried a cigarette yet. To reach them, our campaign had to be as cool and interesting as any other teen-focused brand. Consumer brands were the real competition for the hearts and minds of teens, not other public health issues.

In other words, we had to make it cool to not smoke. Truth was a brand first and foremost, and it became a cool brand because of the way the campaign was executed at every step along the way.

Why is public health such a passion of yours?

I like to work where the needs are greatest. There is huge opportunity to affect behaviors when you strategically target the right messages to the right people at specific points in life.

Getting babies vaccinated on time, for instance, has enormous health effects. Helping seniors pick the right health plan means they have access to the doctors and medicines they need if illness strikes. Helping a child navigate the transition to adulthood with a serious disorder like HIV/AIDS or diabetes is incredibly complicated — and yet when you do the work to unpack it and communicate effectively, you can help it go smoothly. I love to see that happen with the right communications campaign.