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Leading Thoughts

July 31, 2017
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Communicating in Chaotic Times by Wendy Lund, CEO

Breaking through with your messages in today’s media environment is tough, and the healthcare industry is certainly not immune to the changes to newsrooms we’ve seen in the last few years. Given these challenges, the 13th ExL Pharma Public Relations & Communications Summit, one of the largest gatherings of communications professionals in the pharmaceutical space, set out to explore these obstacles and provide best practices to overcome them and ensure key audiences are reached. Over the course of two days of presentations and robust discussions with peers and experts in the space, attendees focused on the myriad challenges communicators face and how quickly and nimbly our industry is able to adapt to “get the job done.”

For the sixth year in a row, GCI Health served as marquee sponsor for the Summit. This year, I was honored to serve as conference co-chair, the first agency person to ever serve in this capacity, and played a key role in helping to shape the theme of this year’s meeting, “Providing a Clear Path Forward During Chaotic Times.” Four key points coming out of the Summit stuck with me.

Combatting Fake News. Fake news is very topical today, particularly as it relates to our government, but in healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry has been living with it for a long time. The stakes here are huge and the industry has to get a handle on the flow of information to protect not only their companies, but the patients they serve. Efforts to combat fake news and maintain trust need to center on creating credible content, keeping ahead of trends and issues as they emerge and (quickly) countering inaccurate information.

Breaking Through With Your Story. What does it take to get a reporter interested in your story? This is the key to getting covered in today’s environment. Your story needs to do more than just “add noise” and must provide value to their audiences. Also, reporters are competing with bloggers, social influencers and others who are pushing out information quicker than the media, so the speed at which you can get them information could decide whether or not your story runs – reporters have less time to get their stories right, so providing them with immediate access to what they need is critical.

Channeling The Patient Voice. Now more than ever the consumer voice is heard and it’s making a difference. It seems that everyone wants to hear from real people, and patient influencers can humanize your story and help you get your messages out. However, they are only effective if they are seen as credible and genuine, so maintaining the trust of their communities is critical.

Telling the Customer Story. Times have changed, healthcare has become very personal, and the brand is no longer at the center of the universe, and new approaches are needed to reach audiences. One approach is through brand storytelling, and the key here is finding ways to inspire through stories. However, the story is about the customer, and the brand is just a plot point in their story. It’s not about what you’re selling, but how what you’re selling ties into your customer’s story.

Changes within the newsroom show no signs of slowing down and, as communicators, we will continue to adapt to these changes and find new ways to break through our messages to benefit the patients we serve. It will certainly be interesting to see where things head in the years to come.

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