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Truth Initiative - Tricia Kenney, Chief Communications Officer

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 American Business Awards

Company: Truth Initiative, Washington, DC
Entry Submitted By: Ketchum
Company Description: Truth Initiative is a national public health organization that is inspiring tobacco-free lives and building a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco. The truth about tobacco and the tobacco industry are at the heart its truth® tobacco-prevention campaign. To learn more about our work speaking, seeking and spreading the truth about tobacco, visit
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications, Investor Relations, or PR Executive of the Year

Nomination Title: Tricia Kenney, Chief Communications Officer

Tell the story about what this nominated executive has achieved since January 1 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Tricia Kenney is an award-winning and creatively driven communications leader, who brings a proven track record of strategic media and public relations expertise to her role as Chief Communications Officer for Truth Initiative. Before joining full-time, Tricia served as a consultant to Truth Initiative, coordinating the earned media strategy to re-launch the iconic truth® tobacco-prevention campaign in 2014.

With smoking as the number one cause of preventable death in America, Tricia strives to help teens live a tobacco-free life—saving them from an early death due to smoking-related illness. Her communications programs are focused on making sure that each new generation of 15- to 21-year-olds doesn’t start smoking—and if they do smoke—that they quit this deadly addiction before it’s too late. Reaching this audience is literally a matter of life and death.

Under Tricia’s guidance, truth has become the nation’s most successful youth smoking prevention program. As a result of truth’s provocative ads and public relations campaigns on the dangers of smoking and deception of the tobacco industry, just 5.4% of U.S. teens now smoke—down from 23% in 2000. This is a new historic low for U.S. smoking rates among teens.

In 2017, Tricia led an integrated campaign shining the light on how Big Tobacco singles out minority, low-income, LGBTQ and mentally ill communities with aggressive marketing practices that equal profiling. The first two ads, premiering during the GRAMMY® Awards and starring Actress Amanda Seales, highlighted how Big Tobacco targets minority and low-income neighborhoods—even advertising aggressively near schools. A second set of ads, airing during MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs), exposed how Big Tobacco deliberately targets the mentally ill and military to get them hooked on tobacco.

As part of the #StopProfiling campaign, Tricia developed a partnership with the CVS Health Foundation to work with 42 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and 64 community colleges to implement smoke-free/tobacco-free campus policies. She also led truth’s partnership with in order to further extend the campaign and increase engagement with young activist.

Tricia’s creative vision powers truth’s ability to continuously exceed its 75% ad awareness goal, with the 2017 #StopProfiling ads achieving 84% awareness.This awareness is important since research published in the December 2017 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health finds that building brand equity among teens not only improves message recall, but also influences behavioral outcomes. Importantly, youth and young adults who feel more favorably toward the truth brand are less likely to smoke. Those who smoke are more than twice as likely to report intentions to quit within one year. The research also attributes recent truth campaigns with preventing 300,000+ youth and young adults from smoking over the course of a year.

Communications programs designed by Tricia have earned numerous awards for excellence and effectiveness—including Cannes PR Lions, CLIOs, SABREs, Silver Anvils and Webbys. In 2015, she helped the truth campaign earn two major awards from PRWeek:  Arts, Entertainment, Sports & Media Campaign of the Year and Nonprofit Campaign of the Year. Tricia led the 2017 Effie submission that resulted in a Gold Effie for Prevent #CATmaggeddon and Silver Health Effie for Finishers 2.0. truth also secured a ranking as one of the top most effective brands in 2016 by the Effie Index.

If tobacco trends continue at the current trajectory, 5.6 million children alive today under 18 will die prematurely as a result of smoking. Tricia knows that the stakes are high and the job is nowhere near complete. That’s why she continues to lead at Truth Initiative to make sure this generation of teens are the ones to end smoking once and for all.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated executive since the beginning of 2017.

-Launched #StopProfiling campaign which sparked outrage at Big Tobacco over their profiling tactics to underserved communities. After seeing our ads, we saw:
-45% increase in young people who were angry with Big Tobacco
-50% increase in young people who agreed that “Taking a stand against smoking is important to me”.
-Generated earned media for truth’s #StopProfiling GRAMMY and VMA ad activations (nearly 120 earned media placements; 302.2M impressions).
-Achieved 98.5M+ video views across channels; nearly 2M social engagements.
-Generated a nearly 700% spike in website traffic in the campaign’s first week.
-Successfully extended truth’s message through a partnership with that activated over 71,000 young people to get involved. The campaign had the highest report back rate of any campaign in DoSomething’s history.
-Achieved 84% awareness for truth.
-Achieved an historically low teen smoking rate:  5.4%, down from 23% in 2000.