It's impossible to find a consumer who doesn't interact with one or even multiple health brands every day. Be it pharmaceuticals, medical devices, over-the-counter treatments, fitness, nutrition or food & beverages, we are all health consumers.
In this issue of Marketing Coach we introduce successful strategies for health PR, explore the relationship between healthcare consumers and the media, and share research findings about best practices for marketing to healthcare professionals (aka HCPs).
Since there is so much to discuss in this space, this issue covers a sampling of hot topics and ideas. Since brand affiliation with healthy lives is a focus of so many marketers across industries, products and services, we'll surely continue this discussion in future issues.
"It's not just health
and business too."
The Intersection of Health PR,
Media, Consumers & Physicians
Health PR: What Works
Target the media that healthcare consumers turn to. It's not just health media anymore, its lifestyle, general news and business too.
Make it human. Editors, producers and audiences want personal stories of struggle and triumph! You'll want to be able to provide some content you'd see in a case study, such as the process for identifying a problem or solution, advice or valued resources. Bring your story to life with individuals who have the condition or caregivers and family who have relevant experiences.
Make it practical. Include useful advice, tips on treatment options, medicines, devices and alternatives from diet and exercise to eastern traditions.
Lessons from pros. Health consumers still want real experts for advice on assessing symptoms, treatment options, how to sort through tons of information for the truth, how to separate science from personal experiences, facts from fears and hype.
Offer serious expertise from patients, physicians, nurses, caregivers.
Measurement matters. The media is more likely to take a story if there is data to substantiate a claim from a credible source. It may be about your care, treatment, prescription, device or perhaps about the disease/condition or target audience to make the case for the relevance of your offer.
Leverage personal history. If you can find a reporter who has a personal/family interest in a health matter, it may increase your chances of coverage or at least get it in front of the right editor.
Persist to secure news coverage. Don't assume a lack of past coverage means an outlet is not interested; be sure to find a trend or societal shift to which your health news may be tied.
The Media and Healthcare Consumers
We asked a couple of health marketing experts about the trends and tribulations facing the media as they engage with health consumers in this digital era.
Carol J. McCall, Chief Strategy Officer of GNS Healthcare told us that "within the industry there is hypervigilance for privacy and security, which are important to preserve. However this reality may interfere with the ways individuals are seeking answers to healthcare needs and concerns.
She explains that "media need to take care so that what they put in content is based on research findings. It is important to provide information and be cautious about drawing conclusions about what works, what doesn't, and any side effects. People are paying attention and some of the studies reported on and some interviewee opinions draw their own conclusions, which are not always consistent or complete."
On the role that media content and technology play to influence consumer/patient health and wellness, McCall sees that "the media is trying to change the nature of the conversation. Technology is doing that with all of the tools available for personal measurement and monitoring. This self monitoring movement with gadgets and apps is still gaining traction, beyond early adopters and becoming part of how people live. The apps are becoming more available through social platforms.
Rosemary Abendroth, Vice President of Global Communications Director at Publicis Healthcare Communications Group reminds us that "everything changed in healthcare once the consumer became in charge with the advent of the Internet and social media."
What's her take on trends to anticipate when it comes to media covering health topics?"A lot of individual patient stories - so many things are focused on the individual cancer patient, someone who beat the odds. Some are inspirational stories. It's an individual patient story that raises awareness about a risk to your healthcare. Individual stories, however you find them, from the TV, radio, and Internet. Companies, even Walmart, have a mom's blog. It's one of the largest pharmacies in the world and it promotes health and wellness. The discussion about health and healthy moms address what people want to read about. It's deeply personal. It's my mom's health, my kids' health, my health."
When asked about the degree of "proof" required for the media to present health information,
Abendroth says that "it's best to go to a legitimate source that specializes in research on the health topic." She explains that "this is a concern of the FDA and groups addressing legitimacy. If it's the consumer, they should be wary of info out there from non-legitimate sources. I would go to Mayo Clinic, WebMD, universities with reputations for health research expertise. Everyone is out [participating] in social media, which means that misinformation is out there. It may be more difficult to read research, but if you need facts, beware of personal opinions and where they separate from fact."
On the use of any celebrity spokesperson, she feels that"needs to have credible personal story with a condition." Examples include Jamie Lee Curtis with Activa (not a drug), Sally Field with Osteoporosis, Adam Levine for ADHD education with Shire. "When selecting a celebrity as a spokesperson, I would ensure organic growth with the disease and related non-profit causes so they can be a genuine advocate for the disease. Once established credibility they can use for marketing campaigns."
Market to Healthcare Pros: What Experts Advise
We tapped into timely and respected research with "What Physicians Want,"a biennial survey conducted by Publicis Touchpoint Solutions and Sermo.
Overarching Message: "Help Me Help My Patients!"
The overarching message of this year's survey is clear: Physicians are begging for practical help in getting their work done. More than ever before, they want efficient tools and communications that will help them help their patients. They want to strip away time wasters so they can educate patients, support patients who need assistance, and help patients comply and adhere to therapy. They will open their doors to life sciences companies and representatives that help them accomplish these goals.
This sentiment emerges upon close comparison of the results of this year's survey to those from 2010:
1. Still want more high-quality sales representatives
A consistent result in all 3 biennial surveys, HCPs are saying "you are still not providing me with the 'quality' of representative I need for my practice."
2. iPads for detailing
It's clear that survey respondents appreciate the interactivity of details presented on iPads.
3. Electronic access to materials and representatives
Physicians want more on-demand resources (disease- and product-focused websites, eSampling, email, etc) and after-hours access to local "hybrid" representatives through phone and live video.
4. Less mailed print materials
While a minority finds print materials useful, most HCPs want to receive less.
5. More customer service representatives, hybrid representatives, and clinical health educators
These types of nontraditional representatives provide tremendous value around service, education, and adherence/retention support.
6. More industry-sponsored accredited CME, but less promotional education
It is interesting to note that HCPs' interest in industry-sponsored accredited CME has increased as availability has decreased.
7. Importance of HCP-focused websites
Eighty-six percent of respondents would like to see more HCP-focused disease-state websites, and 77% want more brand-/product-oriented HCP-focused websites.
8. 88% now own smartphones (vs. 70% in 2010), and 54% use iPads (or other tablets) in their daily work
This is not unexpected, but reinforces the importance of the digital mHealth (mobile health) message.
9. Doctors communicate with patients primarily via phone (70%), email (66%), and mail (46%)
As doctors and patients increasingly interact via email, secure electronic transfer of patient education and support materials will become ever more important.
10. Doctors are seeking crucial industry focus on patient education, support, and adherence
HCPs need help providing better patient care in an environment that doesn't make it easy for them to do their jobs (e.g., time crunches, lack of payment for counseling/educating patients, etc.)
Physicians Use Social Networking Sites
According to the Publicis Touchpoint-Sermo survey, in addition to using sermo.com these physicians are also active in other social networks. Facebook is the leading non-medical social networking site for these physicians, with 66% active (vs. 68% in 2010). LinkedIn showed rapid growth in users, from 18% in 2010 to 40% in this year's survey. Google+ is surging quickly, with 38% using this site. Twitter uptake has remained relatively flat, with 19% use in 2012 vs. 22% in 2010. "Other" social sites mentioned include QuantiaMD, Medscape, and others.
Special thanks to GNS Healthcare's Carol McCall and Publicis Healthcare Communications
Group's Rosemary Abendroth for their participation in interivews and Publicis Touchpoint
for sharing their research findings.
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