Float Don't Fight: Using PR and Social Media to Raise Awareness of Rip Current Safety

29 Sep

After losing her husband in a rip current accident this summer, Ali Joy was determined to help prevent her tragic experience from happening to someone else.

Ali's tragedy happened over Father's Day weekend. While vacationing with her family of five in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, Ali's husband, Austin, noticed that the couple's twin daughters were swimming out too far. Both Austin and Ali rushed into the water after the girls. Ali and her daughters made it safely out of the water, thanks to the help of several bystanders, including a woman who made sure surfboards were sent out, and several Marines who reminded the family to remain calm and float with the current. Unfortunately, Austin did not survive.

Following the accident, Ali realized that there isn't enough awareness about the dangers of rip currents and what to do if you're caught in one. Ali set out to change that, taking what she learned on that fateful day and sharing that knowledge with others.

With the help of a volunteer multidisciplinary team, Ali created the "Float Don't Fight" campaign. She started a Facebook page to share her story, educate people on identifying rip currents, and help them learn to survive if they're caught in one.

Ali's team helped her strategize her message and conducted outreach to reporters, landing Ali a couple of television interviews. Ali appeared on Virginia This Morning, alongside her friend, Tom Gill, from the United States Lifesaving Association, and was interviewed by the Raleigh-based WRAL Evening News. Ali's WRAL interview ran on several other NBC-affiliate stations across North Carolina, just in time to spread her important message to Labor Day beach-goers.

"One: Bring a floatation device to the beach," advises Ali. "Two: Grab a floatation device before you go out to save someone. Three: If you find yourself in a rip current, float, don’t fight."

Ali and her team of volunteers continue to explore options for raising awareness in preparation for the summer of 2019 vacation season.

"If it saves just one life, my story will be worth telling," Ali affirms.

Benecomms feels fortunate to be part of the team helping to share Ali's message and turn her tragic experience into a mission for good.


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