Spotlight interview: 15 minutes on PR in pharma

Written by Vicky Bramham on Thursday 17th October 2019

Vicky Bramham, Managing Director, OPEN Health takes 15 minutes to answer some key questions on PR discipline. 

Vicky Bramham
1. WHAT DOES GOOD PR LOOK LIKE AT PRESENT?

For me, good PR has always been about strong relationships, great content and powerful storytelling – something we pride ourselves on in the PR discipline at OPEN Health. However, as the way we consume news and information evolves, PR needs to reflect this in the way it tells its stories. 

Though good relationships with journalists and the ability to understand their bespoke needs remains one of our core assets at OPEN Health, it’s no secret that there is a growing consumer mistrust in traditional media and that people are spending more time reading information and news online.  So, as we see a shift in consumption from journalist written publications to a more direct to user approach, it’s now not just about providing journalists with what they want to write about but providing the end audience with what they want to read about.   

However, research shows that when they do go online, people generally only read around 28% of the words during an average visit.  As a result, a long piece of prose from a PR agency is no longer going to cut it!  Instead content needs to be informative yet eye catching, bite sized and easy to digest in order to grab attention. So from a healthcare PR perspective, while the content still needs to be accurate and compliant, the way we present it is key.  Shareable GIFs, short videos, infographics are much more likely to be read and help engage.  

To summarise, in my opinion, good healthcare PR is about creating content that has balance of science and creativity, both being equally important if we want to gain the trust and attention of our audiences.

2. HOW HAS PR CHANGED OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS?

The role of public relations is becoming broader in scope to cater for the evolving environment and the way people access information. 

For just one client we may act as a brand champion, a patient expert, a social media guru, a reputation builder and a crisis fighter!  We are expected to think in a more integrated way about a client’s challenges and thus PR, advertising and other marketing functions need to work seamlessly together to have impact. 

My prediction is that PR companies will become more integrated and those that can offer clients an expert, yet multidisciplinary approach will be leaders.

3.  HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA ENVIRONMENT CREATED CHANGE?  

It’s created change in so many different ways!  From the type of content we create as highlighted above, to the preparedness that needs to be in place to deal with negative issues that can be broadcast across social media platforms in a matter of minutes. 

However, PR has always been about building third-party relationships to support the credibility and influence of a brand or campaign and the one thing that social media has opened up is the type of third parties that we may now be looking to build a relationship with. 

Whilst relationships with journalists, patient groups and KOLs are ever important, companies and brands are increasingly turning to social influencers on platforms such as Instagram, to spread their messages.  And those influencers don’t need to be celebrities.  ‘Micro influencers’, those with smaller, niche followers yet who are deeply connected in some way to a topic, or in the healthcare space, potentially to a disease or condition are also growing in popularity  as their ability to be able to talk with authenticity adds increased authenticity and credibility.   Compliance concerns will always see healthcare move with more trepidation in this space but there are already some strong examples of how this has been done well and within regulations. 

At OPEN Health, our experienced PR team can provide consultancy across the social media spectrum from development of Standard Operating Procedure, strategic planning to content generation.

4.  WHAT SETS OPEN HEALTH APART IN THE PR SPACE?   

At OPEN Health, PR sits within OPEN Health’s Patient and Brand Communications (PBC) division.  OPEN Health PBC was created by the coming together of strong, iconic legacy healthcare agencies with deep specialisms in advertising, PR, patient engagement and market research, OPEN Health PBC is unique in its ability to deploy deep-rooted, proven expertise to meet your need.

But we realise that success is driven not only by depth, but also by the breadth of expertise, or context, you apply to a communications solution. And we are unparalleled in the range of experts we can combine to meet your challenge as needed – not only across our own practice but also from the broader OPEN Health businesses which include medical education and market access.

5.  GIVE US SOME EXAMPLES OF GREAT WORK YOU HAVE CONDUCTED WITH CLIENTS?  

Going back to my point about public relations being so diverse these days, our work is so varied whether we are supporting a reimbursement decision in Scotland to launching a global disease awareness campaign; all of our work is great if it is achieving the goals we set out to meet.   Whatever we do, we always try to bring together that balance of science and creativity to achieve great results for our clients.

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For further information or to discuss your PR needs, please contact Vicky Bramham vickybramham@openheathgroup.com