Harnessing the power of PR to boost marketing communications

by Gurjit Chahal |

Healthcare is a competitive industry, and building a brand, whether at product or corporate level, that can stand out in a post-covid world and during the current challenging economic climate needs some fresh thinking. No audience is the same, each one requiring different messages, tone and use of language at different points in time, and this is where PR and communications can play a vital role to inform and educate stakeholders.

Brands need a strong but nuanced narrative that underpins all communications. PR professionals know how to tell that story in the way that matters most to each individual audience. While non-promotional in nature, when product and corporate communications are executed well (aligning audiences to the right content and channels), it can lead to a positive and lasting impact on brands.

Opportunities for communications within cross-functional teams

Marketers are always chasing a truly integrated communications plan, and yet PR is still pigeon holed to milestone press releases when there is a wealth of untapped cross-functional opportunity in clever and compliant communications.

I’ve seen first hand how PR can boost programmes by working in a cross-functional team at Makara Health. For example, while supporting medical education programmes for early stage treatments, we’ve leveraged PR at the pivotal moment in time to communicate Phase 3 data and future regulatory milestones. We’ve developed award-winning internal communication campaigns to increase uptake of learning and development training tools which were not being used to their full potential, and we’ve generated high quality media coverage to support a new brand launch. Cross-functional team collaboration can help to deliver strategic marketing and medical communication programmes which help to drive change in audience behaviour.

Building the corporate profile of healthcare players

Corporate communications plays a valuable role in supporting new and established healthcare companies and building an organisation’s ‘brand identity’. In the pharmaceutical industry, new biotech firms are emerging with exciting stories to tell, and good communication can be the difference between getting on the ‘Big Pharma’ radar or securing next-stage funding. PR can help with more than just announcing the latest round of equity financing, such as:

  • Bringing science to life which is often complex as companies have unique platforms in gene and cell therapy which need PR expertise to bring together their scientific strategy with creative storytelling.
  • Promoting a business model that has the potential to accelerate drug development.
  • Putting a spotlight on the people, including their expertise, culture and thought leadership.
  • Looking ahead at growth and partnership goals, including pharmaceutical partners and future buyers, which need nuanced messaging for an investor audience. 

The result is an intelligent and inspiring story that clearly sets out a biotech firm’s Purpose, People and Vision which is all underpinned by their Science. 

As healthcare companies grow, they are naturally going to be put under the spotlight more. Stewardship by organisations in reputation development and management should not be underestimated or underinvested – when it is done well, it can be invaluable and support positive organisational leadership.

What is next for PR and communications?

It has been a challenging year for the PR industry, but it is great to see more opportunities coming through as the economy builds itself back up. I believe this starts with senior PR teams working collaboratively with healthcare organisations in cross-functional teams, actively listening, asking the right questions and providing strategic recommendations on when and how to leverage PR compliantly so it is delivering value at the right time and not missing opportunities.

This goes back to the importance of developing strong communication foundations including
audience-specific messaging, tailored content and working with senior leaders to tell the story in an engaging and authentic way. There is so much potential for communicating across different channels, including digital and social media, traditional media and now a return to more face-to-face events. When it is delivered well, it can pave the way for building successful relationships with stakeholders, driving awareness of an organisation and creating a strong brand identity.

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