Q&A: Insights From a PM Society Judge

Written on Monday 5th December 2022

We recently caught up with Trish Shepherd, Global Head of Business Development to hear more about her role as a judge for the upcoming PM Society Awards, and what these awards represent for the healthcare industry more broadly. 

1. Please briefly introduce yourself, including your current job role and experience/background

Trish Shepherd, Global Head of Business Development for OPEN Health Communications Practice. I have been in the industry for a while now and am proud of the years I have served (20+ years). I have held posts in brand promotion, public relations, digital, and fully integrated accounts. My most recent posts have been in business development, where I am fortunate to have seen the fusion of deep scientific experience with evidence-based creativity. Yes, a pitch brings deadlines and demands but when I see the work, I am always reminded why I chose the healthcare communications industry. The work matters!

2. What drew you to participate as a judge at the PM Society Awards?

We often see big campaigns and yes, they should be celebrated, but the awards process invites us all to take stock and think about what we have achieved for our clients, for our agencies, and most importantly for the patients, families, and carers who benefit from a better understanding of a molecule or a better explanation of a treatment pathway.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the PM Society Awards and what they represent for healthcare communications?

This organization continues to keep us all striving to do more and do better. The awards fund so many initiatives that enable our industry – newcomers and seasoned professionals alike – to benefit from thought-provoking content and training.

4. Is there anything you're particularly excited to see from entries this year?

Yes, a bold campaign is exciting but I think I am more excited to see simple changes that make a significant impact. So I will be looking for entries that have taken the time to hone in on moments that matter most to patients and built campaigns that really help improve quality of life for patients, or bring shared-decision making to a new level.

5. Are there any topics/trends that you think will continue to grow in the next few years?

Everyone is talking about omnichannel these days so I imagine this will fill the columns. But working for an agency that champions data-driven communications, I am keen to see how teams are putting test-and-learn initiatives into practice. We have the resources to adapt more quickly, but campaign cycles are not always delivering on end-user preferences. It will also be interesting to see new metrics emerging to support return on engagement.

6. What do industry awards represent for you more personally?

For me, the awards are not just for the campaigns lucky enough to be awarded. They provide an opportunity for everyone in this industry to take a few moments to sit back, reflect on what we have collectively achieved, and celebrate the work we do – even for those initiatives that don’t make it to the final judging panels. Don’t get me wrong, I also want to see my teams be on the winning side, but being part of the highs and the lows is what it means to compete – to learn, to improve, to excel. I have heard it said: competition breeds excellence. So, I will always support the awards because the event is “the arena” to showcase the big wins, as well as the small steps that bring about improvement. It is also worth noting that these awards play an important role in recruiting talent into the industry by showcasing the creative and innovative work that we do.

7. What is one thing you most enjoy about judging?

I love a good debate and I am really pleased that the judging panels allow a healthy, respectful debate. We all see the entries through different lenses; our varied experiences and perspectives power the discussions. So, when we decide on a winner – it is a satisfying experience.


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