Mar11

Reality-based research – do you know what it is really all about?

I Word Cloudam often asked to explain to both agency colleagues and clients what the Behavioral Insights team does, and how it differs from other kinds of research.

Here is what I tell them…

Years ago, one strategically minded agency leader thought that he could do a much better job helping his pharmaceutical marketing and advertising clients if he knew what was really said when physicians and patients got together for their visits. He was right. Years later, we have recorded over 4,000 office visits and 8,000 corresponding post-visit interviews with healthcare professionals in over 20 therapeutic categories, along with their patients and often their loved ones—creating a whole lot of words and actions to analyze. Now we have a much better understanding of physician and patient dialogue and behavior—and a lot of insight into what goes on during real-world interactions in healthcare.

Over time we have broadened our offerings, but overall, we conduct primary research in real-world settings that focuses on healthcare dialogue and behavior. We do this by accessing techniques such as ethnography to observe our targets in physicians’ offices, their homes and work places, and while on the go. We analyze the data with sociolinguistic techniques. By monitoring social media, we can even take a look at what they write about online in open forums, and analyze their dialogue. We know that when a person feels less inhibited by the constraints they often experience when talking with healthcare professionals in person, they are able to ask questions and raise topics they normally shy away from.

From years of studying human behavior, we also know that what people say they do and what they actually do are not always aligned. We have heard it all, from asthma patients saying their daily lives are not impacted yet they gave away their beloved pet and ripped out their carpets, to spinal cord injury patients saying they accept their condition, but refusing to put a ramp in front of their home. We look to get under the surface and understand what is really happening, where there are gaps in communication, and what the intended and unintended consequences of these interactions are.Dialogue

We don’t stop there. Does the term computational linguistics sound intriguing to you? If so, you’re not alone. We can take a look at millions of words by using industry publications and see what words are most often used together and the frequency of words used to help your clients describe and own the scientific and clinical story.

Knowing so many of my colleagues are curious by nature, I am guessing you really want to know what we learned from our many years of doing this research! Well, you don’t have to wait much longer because we have a white paper, Top 7 Insights from Years of Observing Real-world Healthcare Communication, coming out shortly from our very own sociolinguist, Katy Hewett!

Of course, you can also just ask us! In fact, if you work directly with clients, make sure to talk to us about how we can share these exciting and unique offerings with them, and discuss what benefits these different offerings have for your brand.

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Also posted in behavior change, Brand Awareness, Clients, Creativity, Design, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Innovate, Patient Communications, Patient Recruitment, Physician Communications, Social Media, Strategy | Leave a comment
Feb24

More Than Just an Office Move…Much More

IMG_0576Winston Churchill once famously stated, “First we shape our buildings. Thereafter they shape us.”

Last week, our UK healthcare marketing agency moved into new purpose-built offices on London’s South Bank, and for the first time we are alongside our colleagues in other Ogilvy agencies. I believe Churchill’s view on how buildings inevitably shape us, and our behaviours, is going to be particularly relevant during this exciting new phase of our agency’s evolution.

Much work and planning obviously goes into any major office relocation, but never has this been truer than of the journey we have taken in designing our new office environment. Supported along the way by experts in office design, human behaviour, space planning and collaborative working, we believe we have moved our team into an environment that truly has the ability to change the way we work.

Some of the main themes – observed here already in our first week – relating to the way our buildings and environment shape us and our work include:

  • New neighbour, new perspective: The office is designed with barely any ‘fixed desk’ positions. Everyone is encouraged to sit in a different place every day. This approach, although perhaps feared by some initially, has been a unanimous success. On a daily basis we hear about the benefit of drawing on new perspectives, “getting a different point of view,” or just learning from what someone else is doing. Fixed desking already seems a distant ”missed opportunity” from the past.
  • Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate: In our new space, IMG_0698gone are the days of endless banks of desks, replaced instead by a range of different zones and work settings: café tables, sofas, booths, work pods and benches. The single aim: drive collaboration. And it works. Provide people with the spaces to meet, share and grow and they do it…relentlessly. Already we see that what used to be achieved via 30 emails and half a day, can be improved upon by a 15-minute chat on the sofa.
  • Break the silos: Ogilvy Healthworld has long held the belief that the best work comes from channelling neutral thinking and big ideas that span all marketing disciplines. And yet the agency’s physical”geography” has in some ways lagged behind and remained siloed. Until now. The completely open-plan setting we now have does not speak of any ”divisions” or ”departments,” just of a truly integrated business. And it’s this integration that will in turn lead to even bigger and better thinking for our clients.
  • Be inspired: And finally, it’s amazing to see already the refreshed energy and passion that is derived simply by ”being” in a different place. We are lucky, yes, in being situated along London’s ”creative mile” on the South Bank, surrounded by leading arts and cultural establishments and an inspiring creative ”vibe.” And we are lucky too to have one of the most inspiring views of new and old London stretched out in front of us across the Thames. But these facts alone are not what drive the greatest levels of invigoration. The mere fact we are in a new space, with new and interesting stimuli, further supports the notion that new buildings, fresh environments, ”change” us.

So, in conclusion, we IMG_0607believe our new building genuinely has started to ”shape us” already, and will continue to do so. It feels like a rich and precious time for the agency and its staff to feed off each other in different ways and be inspired by our new environment to search for greatness for our clients and their brands.

We invite any current employees, future employees, clients and prospects alike, to come and experience this invigorating environment for themselves, and experience a little of what Churchill had in mind.

Check out more photos and videos of our brand new office here: Ogilvy Healthworld UK Twitter.

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Also posted in agency life, Art, behavior change, Clients, Creativity, Culture, Design, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Strategy, Work-life | Leave a comment
Feb5

Follow Me on Instagram

Social media presence is no longer an afterthought for companies and organizations. All brands from every industry have a presence across numerous social media platforms, and are actively interacting with their customers. So why is the healthcare industry behind the curve?

The biggest barrier to breakthrough into social media for healthcare companies seems to be patient privacy, aka HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Keeping patient information confidential proves to be difficult on social media platforms everyone can use. Additionally, the FDA requires fair balance in any post a company makes, meaning stating benefits with potential risks. This past summer, Kim Kardashian promoted a drug called Diclegis, used to treat morning sickness during pregnancy, on her Instagram account, and only stated the benefits of the product. The FDA immediately issued the drug company a warning by the FDA, and required it to take down the post, but not before nearly 46 million followers saw it.1

How are drug companies supposed to interact with their audience with such limited options and strict HIPAA regulations? The trick is education. Social media can be a great way to spread awareness about public health issues. Unique campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral for this reason; 440 million people alone viewed thesevideos on Facebook.2 Because the Ice Bucket Challenge was an unbranded campaign determined to raise awareness of a disease, and not a promotion for a product, the organization avoided FDA regulations. Limiting self-promotion and focusing on ways to help your audience certainly takes away some of the barriers discussed earlier. Giving your audience key content can drive a brand home. Video tutorials on how to take a drug, product demos for medical devices, and infographics highlighting wellness tips are just a small sample of the endless possibilities to create meaningful content. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc, can all be an endless hub of constantly updated information a consumer can use to become more aware of their condition, leading to a healthier life.

Though social media is not the definitive answer to improved patient engagement, it can easily become a major component in communicating with target audiences. Like most technology, social media is perpetually evolving, and should now be a required marketing tool for healthcare.

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Resources:

  1. Thomas M. Burton, The Wall Street Journal; “FDA Sends Warning Letter After Kim Kardashian Touts Morning-Sickness Drug”, viewed 2/3/2016; http://www.wsj.com/articles/fda-sends-warning-letter-after-kim-kardashian-touts-morning-sickness-drug-1439401985
  2. Ngan Ton, Mavrck; “The Social Media Statistics That Fueled The Biggest Topics of 2014”, viewed 2/3/2016; http://www.mavrck.co/social-media-statistics-that-fueled-the-biggest-topics-of-2014/
Also posted in behavior change, Content Strategy, Creativity, Digital, Global Marketing, Healthcare Communications, Social Media, Strategy | Leave a comment
Feb2

For Optimized Brand Strategies, Look to Market Research

brain_gears_on background_Who knew that Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, knew a thing or two about market research? Proof is in one of his great quotes “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

That’s a comment on discipline, and it takes on a whole different—and cautionary—meaning when it’s applied to primary market research.

As a market researcher, my first order of business is to help clients “get the facts first.” The discipline of gathering the right facts from the right stakeholders―and in the right way at the right time, to boot―allows us to not only uncover our customer’s drivers and motivators, but also to help inspire changes in behavior.

There are certain activities and processes that are important for us, as an agency, to shepherd our clients through. For instance, we don’t want brand team members driving the creative according to their personal beliefs and perceptions about the product. Rather, we want our clients to clearly hear their customers’ voices, and shape their brand strategy accordingly, with our guidance.

As market researchers, we help ensure that clients “hear” their customers by answering 4 key questions:

1. What are the right facts?

  • The right facts can be as simple as the customer’s geography (physical location) and demography (age, gender, occupation, socioeconomic status), or as complex as their behavior (product consumption level, use patterns, frequency, and loyalty), and psychographic profile (interests, attitudes, and opinions)
  • By targeting the specific questions that our clients need to answer, and by understanding how that data are meant to inform business decisions, we determine the right facts to gather

2. Who are the right stakeholders?

  • Pharmaceutical clients often believe they have a “physician problem,” but chances are they could also have a patient, caregiver, payer, or pharmacist problem (And I could go on!). Sometimes it’s even more than one problem! Healthcare is a sector defined by intricate interdependencies among a long list of stakeholders that ultimately impact product usage
  • Well-designed market research takes into account all relevant stakeholders, including them as the research questions dictate. We often talk with clients about, at minimum, viewing patients, physicians, and payers as three legs supporting their product’s stool—the “length” (eg, importance) of those legs can vary by therapeutic area, but they all need to be taken into account when planning brand strategy

3. What is the right way to gather the facts given budgets and timelines?

  • Do we need one-on-one conversations with customers where we can take the time and latitude to investigate the “why’s” behind responses, and explore topics that might be challenging to articulate in front of others?
  • Do we need small groups of customers to talk with us about our clients’ products’ features and benefits, and the extent to which they produce functional, emotional, and/or personal benefits?
  • Do we need to use projective exercises in which ambiguous or vaguely defined stimuli grant customers’ considerable freedom in their responses? Images and metaphors can sometimes reveal a deeper dimension of thought/decision-making processes and feelings than objective, “correct” responses to explicit research questions
  • Do we need to survey a large number of customers, and on a big enough scale so we can obtain results that are statistically significant?
  • Do we need to survey various types of customers to understand the number and size of diverse market segments, including what those segments look like?
  • Do we need to deploy mobile or app-based methodologies that allow us to track customer thinking and behavior in real time?

4. When is the right time to gather the facts?

  • Sometimes we want to conduct research, either to take the market pulse on the heels of a significant marketplace event, or to get a “snapshot” of the market at a particular moment
  • Sometimes we want to be in the field when the market is quiet, so we can get a baseline against which to compare the impact of future disruptive events
  • Sometimes we want to longitudinally gather the same metrics from the same customers at certain intervals to get a long-term understanding of customer behavior and product usage
  • Sometimes we simply have materials or concepts to test. This might warrant multiple rounds of research, depending on customer response

Contrary to Mr. Twain’s memorable comment, the second order of business for market researchers is to make sure that clients do not distort those facts to fit their own view of their marketplace–or the marketplace they want instead of the one they have.

It’s therefore our job not just to provide the facts, but to give them meaning and to make actionable recommendations. The beauty of being part of the larger Ogilvy CommonHealth organization is that we have a wide and deep network of resources to help us round out our interpretation.

Drawing on our own backgrounds in multiple therapeutic areas, and working closely with our account team counterparts, optimizes our point of view on the research. Having our secondary research, data analytics, and digital colleagues weigh in allows us to ensure that our recommendations are deep and broad, and showcases our capabilities as an integrated agency.

Consider how primary market research can help your organization’s brand teams to get the right facts first (distortion-free!), and use that data as a platform on which to build robust strategies that firmly stake your brands’ positioning in the marketplace.

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Also posted in agency life, Branding, Clients, Content Strategy, Data, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Medical Education, Patient Communications, Research | Tagged | Leave a comment
Jan25

Top Picks From CES 2016

Author Pic CES

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens (left) and Nelson Figueiredo (right)

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens, senior engagement strategist and Nelson Figueiredo, VP, director of technology, applied their experience as a healthcare communicators to identify the most impactful technologies from their year’s CES.

Each year, technologists, strategists, start-ups, major manufacturers, and consumers gravitate to Las Vegas for CES. This is becoming the premier event to showcase new consumer electronics, technology, and products. With the growth of healthcare as a key technology topic, CES is also an important venue for healthcare brands and influencers.

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens and Nelson Figueiredo spent several days on the floor at CES and have curated the following list of products and technologies to watch:

CaptureProof: like HIPAA-secure Snapchat…only better

CaptureProof is a new HIPAA-secure platform for sharing media and data between patients and providers. CaptureProof allows doctors to monitor patient progress and symptoms, triage via media, consult colleagues, and link to wearable devices and EHRs.

It’s recently been used in pilots for remote physical therapy (reducing in-person appointments by 75% and resulting in an overall cost savings of $7,500 per patient) and its diagnostic capabilities are currently being studied by the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at MAYO Neurology.

Currently an invite is necessary to set up an account. However, we’re in discussion about the various ways brands and agencies can utilize the platform and looking forward to developing partnership opportunities with them.

CaptureProof

Holograms still have show-stopping power

With the exception of Shaq walking the showroom floor, preordering robots, when it comes to show-stopping power, hologram technology still reigns supreme.

The Kin-mo booth caused the steadiest stream of pandemonium and buzz at the event, literally, stopping hordes of people in their tracks and compelling them to ask questions and snap pictures and video.

Here at Ogilvy CommonHealth we’re exploring the practical application of Holograms in medical education and are working on making the technology less cost-prohibitive for use in the field.

Holograms from CES2016

Meet flic, the wireless smart button that could revolutionize the way patients communicate with providers

Flic is a small wireless button that you can stick anywhere. It can be programmed to send data and commands to apps on Android or iOS devices.

Swedish developers, Shortcut Labs, designed flic with simplicity, accessibility and safety in mind. It’s currently being used to streamline everyday tasks like controlling your connected home, selecting entertainment and ordering food and taxis.

But the ease of use makes it an intriguing solution for things like symptom reporting and tracking between patient and provider, treatment adherence, atmospheric or environmental controls, and accessibility for patients with limited mobility.

VR was king at CES and controller tech is on the rise

This year the Virtual Reality headset manufacturers exhibiting at CES were too numerous to count and VR environments demoing experiences in space, tech, automotive, entertainment, health and fitness were among the most engaging booth draws on the showroom floor.

While everyone seems to agree that VR is going to revolutionize medical education, it’s recent advances in VR controllers and the impact that they might have on rehabilitation and treatment methods that we found most inspiring at CES this year.

Two groups in particular, 3DRudder and Rink, are leading innovation in foot and hand controls, respectively, and are excited to explore applications for their devices in the healthcare space. Each offer the opportunity to gamify the treatment process in new and exciting ways and extend mobility exercises into the VR realm.

RINK

Sensum, the marketing industry’s new emotions experts

Turning emotions into data, measuring advertising’s effect on the subconscious, tracking the cognitive unconscious, things that used to be qualitative can now be quantitative thanks to Belfast-based Sensum.

They’re already working with some of the biggest media companies and agencies in the world to measure the effectiveness of messages, customer engagement, and usability.

Whether it’s a live event, or a product that needs to be tested for implicit response, new packaging, or a video message, Sensum has the platform and technology you need to capture the real-time emotional response from your audience.

They’re also the creators of the EmoCam.

CES is proving to be a venue for innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their solutions for healthcare. As the empowered patient and modern physician begin to leverage new technology for better outcomes, there is an increasingly more important role for connected medicine, wearables, and mobile technology to help us live healthier lives.

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Also posted in Augmented Reality, behavior change, Brand Awareness, Branding, Consumer Electronics Show, Creativity, Culture, Design, Digital, Global Marketing, Great Ideas, Healthcare Communications, Patient Communications, Physician Communications, Technology, Wearable Health Technology | Leave a comment
Jan15

Stuck in My Head

6608547When I was younger, “great creative” meant a toy commercial with a catchy jingle that was easily memorized. If I happened to be in Toys”R“Us with my mom, I should be able to strategically bust out the jingle while running up and down the aisles. As you can imagine, Mom was unamused by this behavior and was rarely compelled to buy toys I sang about.

While my mother wasn’t heavily influenced by these commercials, I was. I took the ads with me to daycare, and later to school. My classmates and I would hum the chipper tune during nap-time, or screech the whimsical words as we somersaulted through woodchips in gym class.

As I got older I realized that while I initially gravitated towards these ads because of the memorable jingle and the headspinning graphics, another exchange was occurring. It went beyond connecting a product to a consumer. These ads became a part of my lived experience and they helped facilitated human connections – emotionally, physically, mentally, and on occasion, spiritually.

These ads have stayed with me as I have grown up (if asked, I can still sing quite a few) and are a fundamental reason as to why I decided to work in an agency. I’m starting to begin to understand the complexities of creating great creative. The extreme challenges present when staying true to a powerful concept that aligns with the client’s needs and brand goals but isn’t easily forgettable. Most importantly, great creative doesn’t only pertain to children’s toys or consumer goods.

I still believe great creative makes you feel. It takes a snapshot of shared human experiences, of being flawed, of overcoming, of loving, of suffering. Overall great creative should be brave, and it should make you think. It should transcend the relationship between product and consumer, and connect with the audience on a human level. Below are links to recent creative that I believe has accomplished that.

Mogs

Agency/Producer: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Campaign:Mog’s Christmas calamity

 

Exposed

Agency/Producer: Langland

Campaign:Exposed

Maggie

Agency/Producer: Tinker Taylor

Campaign:#itswhatwedo – Maggie

Reader

Agency/Producer: Velocity Films

Campaign:The Reader

One life 2

Agency/Producer: Bleu Blan Crouge

Campaign:One Life

Reunion

Agency/Producer: Ogilvy & Mather India

Campaign:Reunion

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Dec3

The Difference Between a Job and the Work

How many times have you been asked by family and friends “what type of work do you do?” And, how many times have you struggled with how to answer the question? How exactly do you respond in a way that they understand? Do you share the details of your daily job, the challenges you may encounter? Do you focus on the trials and tribulations of the daily routine? Or, do you express a sense of the work you are involved in-the mission you dedicate your life to each and every day?

The Eternal Pursuit of Unhappiness - courtesy of instagram.com/ogilvymather

If you’ve read The Eternal Pursuit of Unhappiness published by Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in 2009, you know that it speaks to the 8 habits of creative communities. They include courage, idealism, curiosity, playfulness, candour, intuition, free-spiritedness, and persistence. The overall messages are geared toward how to turn bad habits, discontent, and sour attitudes into good. And while the book generally speaks to the corporate culture, the work, it also serves up lessons for how we can improve as human beings on a personal level, how to create better life experiences, the work.

Recent television news reports smack of intolerance, bully behavior, lack of teamwork, and lack of respect. If commentators, other “leaders”, and global influencers worked a bit harder at the 8 habits, wouldn’t we be in a better state of mind and actually do a better job at motivating and helping people instead of shutting them down and making them feel disillusioned, in a state of hopelessness, despair, and unhappiness? The “work”, in my mind, is the inner sense of positivity, of paying forward, of keeping true to yourself in an environment of negativity; of lending a hand, of championing an idea when it’s not popular, of having the courage to stand up for what is right regardless of who is advocating, and for defending the character of the effort, having someone’s back, especially when you know that they have given their time and made every effort to move the needle forward. Whether you are in the workplace or at “your home base,” being principled-at all times-is the work.

So perhaps when someone asks you again what you do, think a bit about describing the work you do versus the job you do. What is your contribution to improving healthcare in a positive way for our clients and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole? What eventually benefits the consumers? For example, helping patients who need financial assistance to gain access to the therapies they need to improve their well-being. The more we focus on the ideas and campaigns we create, the honesty and spirit we bring to work each and every day, the teamwork we encourage, the wisdom and passion we pass on to the junior staff, the energy we exhibit and the expressions of thanks we send out, the more grace we practice, the more we instill energy and pride in the organization, we create the place of happiness the book speaks about. In addition, there are many wonderful, positive, and impressive statements of work and demonstrations of community support (whether it be local, state, or global) that Ogilvy employees contribute to on a regular basis. To name a few, there are the personal mentoring efforts, the Chrysalis Initiative, YouEarnedIt, Community Service Day, AHA Heartwalk, Tunnel to Towers Run and Walk, Jersey Cares Coat Drive, and the Community Foodbank of NJ, and Dress for Success. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar organizations Ogilvy employees touch in hopes to create a better world.

So ask yourself ….. What line of work are you in???

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Also posted in agency life, Blogging, career decisions, Creativity, Culture, employment decisions, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, leadership, Personal Reflections, Work-life | Leave a comment
Nov4

I’m excited about the new Facebook Search!

Facebook Search

The new Facebook Search feature is a pretty robust tool that we should be excited about as both marketers and users. Here are a few thoughts, as well as a few predictions around where Facebook might be going with this.

As a regular Facebook user, I was really impressed by the amount of content I was served up when I did a simple search for “cough.” The results were divided into three buckets: Pages, Friends and Groups, and Public Posts – and the keyword was highlighted in each of the posts. There is also a sub-navigation that lets users filter results by Top, Latest, Photos, Videos, Places, and even Apps and Events. Having immediate access to relevant posts that were outside my network was really refreshing, and it was cool to see who was talking about coughs within my network specifically. It will be interesting to see how the results will update during a political event or a big game. In many ways, it reminds me of the way current events can be followed on Twitter.

For users who have privacy concerns, this new feature should raise red flags. Facebook provides users with privacy settings in the actual post window that allow them to choose who can view their post. Those rules will continue to hold true within the search results. If your post is only visible to your friends, then it would only appear in the search results of users in your immediate network. If it is a public post, it will be visible outside of your network. The same applies to comments on posts, as well.

As marketers, we should be excited about the role that brands can play within this new space. Since this is new to all of us, we don’t yet understand the rhyme or reason behind the order of the posts that are displayed when a user searches. That being said, this is a great opportunity for brands to ensure their social engagement strategy is buttoned up. Brands need to be ultra-focused on creating relevant content on their feeds that is keyword-rich, and that includes image and video descriptions.

It will be a matter of time before we are able to advertise in this space. Like Google, media buys will likely dictate your brand’s rank within the search results in the Pages section, with native advertising appearing throughout the Public Posts. When we factor in the Buy Products feature, it’s easy to see how Facebook can begin to position itself as a direct competitor to Google and Amazon, although I think that’s still some ways away.

Visit http://search.fb.com/ to hear all about it from the proverbial horse’s mouth.

This article was originally posted on Ivan Ruiz Graphic & Web Design.

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Also posted in Analytics, Branding, Content Strategy, Creativity, Data, Design, Digital, Digital Advertising, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Media, Media Placement, Physician Communications, Social Media, Strategy, Technology | 1 Response
Oct30

Learning to Speak Agency

Learning to speak agency Thumbnail 130x130When I started at my first agency, after 10 years at a medical journal, I knew there would be things I would need to learn. I knew the work would have a different focus, and there would be more people and more steps involved in going from manuscript to finished product. But I was not prepared for the flood of unfamiliar acronyms and jargon I encountered. Sure, I understood what a word-for-word (aka WFW or W4W) was, I knew that “stet” meant I had been overruled, and I could expand NCCN without even looking it up. But what in the world did “PRC,” “AFP,” or “CTA” mean?

Fortunately, I had extremely helpful team members and colleagues who got me up to speed on all the new terminology, and within a month or two I was rattling off cryptic acronyms with the best of them. But as I gained more experience in the agency setting, with different accounts, different clients, and eventually different agencies, I realized that even within the insular world of agency life, there was incredible variation. It’s only been five years (and three different clients) for me so far, but I’ve already heard more than six different terms used to describe the committee each client has to review work for medical accuracy, legal risk, and regulatory compliance. And what do we call those hardworking folks who take our beautifully constructed print and digital pieces out into the field? No, not “reps”—they’re COSs, FMLs, TBMs, AEs, ARMs, and probably hundreds of other titles I’ve yet to come across.

There’s not much we can do to stem the tide of terminology that comes at us from clients, regulatory bodies, professional associations, and our own organizations. Each agency, each client, each branch of healthcare, each disease state, comes with its own lexicon that we must master. We are in the business of communication, and so it falls to us to absorb the unique language we find ourselves awash in, and learn to harness its power and beauty to shape our clients’ messages in a way that will captivate, educate, and effect change.

Still, language doesn’t need to be an impenetrable barrier, keeping out the uninitiated and insulating the inner circle from the rest of the world. Let’s make sure we’re taking the time to explain unfamiliar terms to new team members, keeping tools like style guides and cheat sheets up to date and easily accessible, and above all, talking to each other—across accounts, departments, and disciplines—about what has worked for us, what our challenges are, and what opportunities we have to explore new paths and keep growing as creative entities. And don’t be afraid to ask questions—especially if you’re new. We promise, we won’t laugh when you ask what a “job bag” is.

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Also posted in agency life, behavior change, Branding, Culture, Digital Advertising, Direct-to-Consumer, employment decisions, Great Ideas, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Strategy | Leave a comment
Oct20

Do we need a healthcare awards show?

Health_AwardsWith all but one or two award shows done and dusted for the year, I can honestly say that I have been delighted to see the standard of creativity in healthcare grow from strength to strength. It’s been inspiring, but at the same time it’s been frustrating.

Recently I judged at one of the major healthcare award shows along with some of the industry’s best—people I respect deeply.

We had some interesting conversations around a few of the entries. The main discussion point being, is this really health?

Saving dogs, a hashtag for mums about how amazing their child is, helping hungry people or recruiting medical staff for the armed forces—for me seems broader than health or not even health at all.

We did discuss the fact that it lifted the game in terms of thinking and execution, but it was acting as a guide stick of where we need to be rather than being a true health entry.

But do these types of entries make the interactive visual aid that has been under the red pen of medical advisors feel boring? Does it make the print ad idea that has made it through the treacherous journey of a pharmaceutical marketing department and research group feel flat? Does it make the medical education program that the regulatory body has scrutinised to the inch of its life look dull?
The answer is yes.

There is no place for pharmaceutical work in a current healthcare awards show. If it isn’t bringing you on the brink of tears or changing the world as we know it, it won’t get a real look in. It will be blindsided.

So should we have a healthcare awards show? Why not simply have a health category in the mainstream shows?

Think we know the answer to that one.

The bigger question is (and part of the reason why award shows were there in the first place), how are we going to lift pharmaceutical communications to a better standard? How are we going to inspire true healthcare agencies that live and breathe health every day?

I believe they deserve to be judged in a very different way.
The idea and great execution, without a doubt should be there. But pharmaceutical communications goes deeper than that. It’s the strategy that creatively and intelligently weaves its way through the minefield of regulations and treatment indications. The medical writing that’s taken highly scientific information and made it code-compliant yet highly persuasive to a cynical physician.

So with all this in mind, I believe we do need an awards show for healthcare, but it has to be very different from the shows we currently have. They are mostly celebrating work that’s for the good of man (or animal) kind and I believe you could tack anything to that and call it health.

Pharma is a weird and wonderful world and a very specialised one, so when it comes to judging creativity, should it not be seen through a slightly different lens?

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