SHAPE - Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication Case Study


Frustrated by the slow rate of adoption of new techniques to identify those at risk of an imminent heart attack, SHAPE, the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication, engaged DPK Public Relations to plan and implement a PR program to increase awareness of the issue and speed the rate of change.


DPK quickly determined that AEHA had two strikes against it when communicating about scientific advances in heart attack prevention: the complexity of the subject matter and a dominant “competitor” in the form of the American Heart Association who didn’t agree that change was needed. If we were going to change attitudes and behaviors, we first needed people to understand the problem and need to be seen as a credible voice.

Step one was to brand the initiative. The AEHA’s campaign was renamed the National SHAPE Program, which stands for Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education. Step two was to establish the organization as a credible source of information for health and medical journalists. We did this by instituting a “rapid response” approach to offer AEHA’s perspective on pertinent news and events.


This strategy became particularly valuable in the hours following President Clinton’s heart scare. By quickly asserting that the president’s case illustrated the failure of conventional medicine to prevent heart attacks, we fueled what later became known as “The Clinton Syndrome” and succeeded in establishing the organization as the leading voice for changing how heart attack risk is assessed. Coverage in major media coverage included CNN, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and TIME, among others.