Feb18

Taking the Pulse…Tuning In to the New Patient Network

1741356 sA guest blog post from Craig Martin – Chief Executive Officer of Feinstein Kean Healthcare, an Ogilvy & Mather Company

Most of us are far too young to remember the early days of television. What I do recall from my childhood is that three networks owned the airwaves, large numbers of people followed a small number of notable programs, and the screen turned to fuzz at midnight. You made note of the TV Guide schedule, and you adjusted your schedule to the TV shows that interested you. The networks and the stars were in charge.

A lot has changed since then, obviously. There are now countless networks, and seemingly limitless numbers of shows. Reality television has made stars of “ordinary” people. And the digital age has made scheduled programming obsolete—the content follows you and adjusts to your life and device of choice, not the other way around.

Why wax nostalgic about the evolution of broadcast television? Because I believe a similarly dramatic transformation is under way in our field. The old channels and choices are fading to fuzz. A new era is dawning.

For years, healthcare PR relied on a few channels and reliable choices to reach, inform, and market to patients. On behalf of our clients, we used traditional media (earned and paid), events, celebrities and big disease education programs to build awareness and get patients to “talk to their doctors about…”

Today—as more of the burden of choice, comparison, and cost gets shifted to patients, as diseases become more and more categorized via genomic analysis and molecular diagnostics, as medical practice and health become more universally digitized, and physicians and pharma become more responsible for outcomes vs. treatments—the traditional big, broad-channel approaches are becoming less relevant and effective as a means of reaching more and more narrowly defined populations of patients.

These trends are leading to the establishment of entirely new channels and networks, made of up patients identified and aggregated virtually through the sharing of personal medical information and data. In other words, the audience is creating the network, and continually informing the programming through the data they share. Now, rather than casting a wide net via mass media and hoping a narrow audience will be watching, we will have ready-made networks, open 24/7, waiting if not demanding to be engaged. This opens up new frontiers for micro-targeted, real-time communication and measurable engagement, based almost exclusively on digital content and social influence.

Not long before the holidays we learned that Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FKH) and a select group of partners won a million-dollar government grant to develop a “patient-powered research network” for the multiple sclerosis community. This is an exciting development, but not because of the money. This new kind of network represents the leading edge of the transformation I’ve described, and we’re now right at the forefront as well.

In the days and months ahead, we’ll continue to evaluate the pace and progress of change, and work to assure that our thinking and services are aligned with where the world is headed. Naturally, we don’t want to get too far out ahead of the trend, but we must be informed and equipped to lead when the market is ready.

I believe, as this new era unfolds, we will find there are many exciting opportunities ahead for us to engage differently and far more meaningfully with patients.

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Also posted in adherence, advertising, behavior change, Content Strategy, Customer Relationship Marketing, Digital, Digital Advertising, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Patient Communications, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response
Dec17

The Death of the Press Release?

veer imageDid all PR professionals feel a slight shudder of fear upon hearing that Ashley Brown, digital communications and social media lead for The Coca-Cola Company, has vowed to “kill the press release”? I did, but only for a moment. After all, Mr. Brown’s proclamation came during a presentation called “Brand journalism at Coca-Cola: Content, data, and cutting through noise,” where he was outlining the company’s content marketing strategy. Content marketing is the most exciting, and some would say revolutionary, marketing innovation in recent years. It puts the consumer, rather than the brand, at the centre of communications. Instead of pushing out brand messages, content marketers are creating videos, infographics and other pieces of engaging, sharable content that respond to consumer desires and needs, thus creating brand awareness and loyalty.

But why should this mean the death of the press release? In healthcare communications, press releases are a fundamental tool for communicating complex data about diseases and new treatments. Without press releases, reporters working on daily or hourly deadlines would find it nearly impossible to sift through and decipher the news from every clinical trial published in a peer-reviewed journal. A well-crafted press release can help a journalist understand how a p value translates into clinical value for a patient.

Instead of being replaced by content, should press releases be considered a medium for delivering content? Multimedia press releases containing video clips, visuals, infographics and animations are replacing the standard written-word-only release. In addition, with the proliferation of online medical news websites and portals, press releases are increasingly being published in full rather than being used as background information for a news item.

PR professionals can embrace this and ensure that press releases are optimised for search, by judicious use of keywords in headlines and the first paragraph. We can optimise for sharing by crafting “tweet ready” headlines. We can consider the press release a starting point for telling a rich and rounded story that is expressed through a variety of content.

Content marketing is a brave new world for pharma marketers and healthcare communications, and I look forward to taking clients on this journey. However we cannot leave the press release behind.  Long live the press release!

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Also posted in behavior change, content marketing, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Media Placement, press release, Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
Apr2

The True Life of an Ogilvy Healthworld Fellow

beautiful view of big ben, london

The Fellowship Scheme at Ogilvy Healthworld in London is one of the most comprehensive in the field. Fellows spend two years rotating through core disciplines of Advertising, Market Access, Medical Education, PR, Digital and Strategy/Planning. The scheme involves a combination of training, coaching, assignments and project work. Claire Lormor, who started in September 2012, reveals what it is really like. 

 The selection process

Once I had submitted an essay, filled out a comprehensive questionnaire and got through two rounds of agonising interviews, you would have thought I gained myself a nice little place on the sofa of successful Ogilvy Healthworld fellows. No. It wasn’t until I got invited to an “assessment day” that I realised the real selection process had only just begun.

I arrived early on the assessment day, but I was still one of the last to arrive due to the number of keen beans who believe that you will automatically get a job if you arrive to an interview three hours early. After talking to the other potential fellows for about a minute, I realised that they all seemed to have spent the last two years in the industry or getting to know everything about the industry, whereas I had shamelessly spent the last two years travelling the world and doing ski seasons. My nerves were definitely getting the better of me. Luckily the pain au chocolat, Ogilvy branded M&Ms and the concept of a Friday drinks trolley were enough for me to calm down and remember why I really wanted this job.

The main focus of the day was our individual two-minute presentations, where we had to explain to the jury (board of directors) and the other fellows why an object of choice best described ourselves. Some were weird and some were wonderful. People described objects such as water bottles, eggs, books, spectacles and sailing masts. I still don’t know how Ogilvy analysed our presentations; maybe it was just for comedy value!

When the presentations, interviews, brainstorms and team exercises came to a close, we all went our separate ways and waited for the call. I am sure you are not on the edge of your seat wondering whether I got the job or not, but I would like to confirm that I did, and I am now an Ogilvy Healthworld fellow who thoroughly enjoys being lost in the world of health comms.

Moving to London

A great summer of relaxation before I start my fellowship: tick.

A car full of clothes ready to travel 300 miles to London: tick.

A house in London: oh no.

How can someone who knows London about as well as they know the North Pole decide where they want to live? You can’t just ask your friends or colleagues, because wherever they live is “definitely the best place to live.” You can’t ask your parents because they will say the safest place in London, which is guaranteed to be the dullest. You can’t couch-surf because everyone will judge you for being a 23-year-old young professional living on someone’s couch. And you can’t stay in a hotel because one night would cost a year’s wages (not quite).

After spending weeks wandering the streets of London and going to numerous restaurants and bars (it was awful), I decided on an area which I thought would be the best place for me to eat, drink, shop and sleep. It may sound like your idea of hell, but after a lot of strange phone calls and awkward viewings I am happy to say that I am the proud owner of a room in an eight-bed house in the centre of Clapham Junction with other 20-somethings who enjoy working during the week and partying on the weekend.

The other fellows

They say you can find everything on the Internet, but they also said that the world was going to end…weeks ago.

As soon as I found out I was going to be a fellow, I naturally went straight to Google/Facebook to see if I could identify who the other selected fellows were. Ogilvy managed to keep this information from us until our very first day of the fellowship. It was then that I was introduced to Emma (the spectacles girl), James (the sailing mast boy), Pippa (the hockey top girl), Houda (the framed letter girl), Sophie (the Rolling Stones record girl) and Izzy (the can of Foamburst girl).

Not a bad bunch to spend the next two years with!

My first rotation

The fellowship scheme is for people who know they want to be in health comms but are unsure of what area they want to go into. To cater to our indecisiveness, the fellows and I are placed in three of the five departments over the course of two years in the hope that we find our feet and decide what we want to do with our life along the way.

I was delighted when I was told that my first rotation would be in PR, but at the same time I had no idea what PR was. Five months down the line and to me PR means: general admin, media monitoring, budget tracking, long hours and plenty of meetings. However, it also means: working as a team, keeping up-to-date with the pharmaceutical industry, liaising with clients, organising events, communicating with medics around the world, and assisting in the launch of new healthcare products. It’s a hard knock life in PR, but in the world of healthcare comms hard work never goes unnoticed.

As a whole, my experience in Ogilvy Healthworld has been thoroughly enjoyable. If the interesting world of healthcare, a great group of people, a friendly atmosphere, and a cake for everyone’s  birthday isn’t a reason to get up in the morning, I don’t know what is. I am very much looking forward to my next 18 months as a fellow and I hope to experience more of what Ogilvy Healthworld and London have to offer!

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Apr3

Let’s Be Advocates for the Advocates

One of the foundations of effective public relations is establishing strong relationships with potential advocates for a cause, brand or company.  In the pharma industry, one of the most critical allies is the patient advocacy group (PAG) sector.  Whether it’s securing optimal market access, or gaining access to funding for outreach and awareness activities, the industry and PAGs need each other’s support like never before.

The good news is that a recent survey by PatientView of 850 international, national or large regional patients’ groups found that about half of the groups have current or past relationships with pharma companies.  Of those, about 85% say their relationship is good.

But there may be some suspicion lurking beneath the surface—another survey by the same organization reported that only 37% of PAGs considered pharma companies trustworthy.

So how can we as consultancies help foster mutually beneficial relationships based on a foundation of trust?

One way is to ensure that we start with solid knowledge of how advocacy groups are formed and operate, which in turn helps us understand their drivers and motivations.

A patient group’s evolution broadly follows some key stages:

  1. An individual (usually someone personally affected by a specific disease) recognizes the need to do something to improve the situation and starts to act.
  2. Like-minded individuals come together to collectively share expertise and deliver more.
  3. Raising a group’s profile and securing more funds to support its work.
  4. Greater professionalism and a more businesslike approach to operations, such as forming a board of directors.
  5. Registering as a charity.
  6. Geographical expansion and service diversification.
  7. Mergers and growth.
  8. Establishing international networks and influence.

Pharma companies are likely to form alliances with PAGs in the later stages of their evolution, but it is important to remember that they have usually grown out of one individual’s vision and mission.

Building trust is critical—and that means being transparent and reliable. There are plenty of regulations governing financial transparency surrounding pharma/PAG relationships, but it is just as important to be transparent about our aims and objectives when partnering on a campaign or other project. PAG partners also value stability in a relationship—no one likes to be dropped after a project is completed or have their key contacts constantly changing.

Finally, we need to remember that the value exchange in the relationship doesn’t always need to be financially based. Pharma companies, and their consultancies, hold a wealth of knowledge, expertise and services that PAGs may not be able to access otherwise. Providing help with business planning, market research, public relations, insight into health service reforms, organization and operational development, and process and systems analytics may provide value far beyond that of a non-restricted educational grant.

As a consultancy, it is often our job to help form and manage these critical relationships, and we can best do this by being the advocates for the advocates.

 

 

Also posted in Advocacy, Patient Advocacy Groups, Patient Communications, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment