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PR Experts Shed Light On… (Part Two)

This guest blog post is a continuation of last week’s PR Experts Shed Light On… (Part One) article. Dave Hochman, owner of the Red Bank, NJ-based DJH Marketing Communications, Inc., spoke to faculty members from the 11th Public Relations & Communications Summit about the opportunities and challenges pharma PR professionals face. 

To learn more about Dave, visit, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @davehochman

Q: What can other industries look to pharma for right now in terms of ideas and inspiration beyond endorsements and collaborations with KOLs and celebrities?

Wendy Lund: As noted at the Summit, the healthcare industry has been moving toward a more patient-centric model, with the patient experience and peer-to-peer communication — and the unique inspiration, emotion, compassion and passion that they evoke — playing an ever-expanding role in achieving our clients’ goals. It’s not just about how we are showcasing patients, it’s about how we put patients at the center of everything we do as communicators, from the materials we develop to the campaigns and integrated programs we execute. Other industries, if they’re not already doing it, should consider the authentic power of the consumer in making a difference for their brands.

Kelly G. Dencker: Other industries may benefit from the steps many pharma companies are taking to engage their customers beyond the innovations they provide.  More and more pharma companies are taking to social and influencer programs to address challenges or needs within a category, even when it does not directly impact or result in a product sale.  Companies that are taking the time to embrace and listen to patients, caregivers, HCPs and related influencers are creating some very innovative connections that live beyond the traditional healthcare sales transaction. 

Q: What are some of the key patient-to-patient digital interactions that agencies can become involved in on behalf of their clients? If possible, please offer some examples that reflect the most recent advances in technology (e.g., mobile, wearables, etc.)

Kelly G. Dencker: Social and digital media has changed how patients interact with one another and with medical professionals, as well as how patients learn about their conditions.  Social and digital media can be leveraged to drive better outcomes for patients, for instance, and sensor technology and wearables have helped gather greater volumes of data to help physicians and patients manage their condition.  We’ve also found that connecting patients through live and virtual events such as roundtable events or tweet chats proves to be extremely successful to share information, gather feedback and provide access to experts.

Wendy Lund: As communicators, we don’t facilitate direct patient-to-patient interaction on behalf of our clients. Rather, we work with our clients to communicate the patient experience to others to raise awareness and provide information that will hopefully help others make positive decisions that will lead to diagnosis and, if necessary, initiation of treatment. Through these efforts we also help our clients create a sense of community among patients going through similar experiences.

Q: The Sunshine Act is intended to let the general public see the flow of money in the pharma ecosystem. However, what are some of the ways potentially that PR and communications professionals in the industry can use access to this data on behalf of manufacturers/brands?

Sumita Ray: The transparency laws provide insight into data analytics that the industry has not previously had (at least all in one place). PR and communications professionals can review the data and can identify the KOLs used by competitors and the types of transfers of value/payments that competitors are making to HCPs. They can also identify which HCPs and KOLs are working with which specific companies. If reviewed and utilized properly, this can assist PR and communications professionals in assisting their clients with having a competitive advantage by coming up with novel and innovative ways to work with HCPs that other companies may not be using. It can also assist with identifying HCPs that are working with competitors and understanding how often they are doing so. It is a landmine of information that, if analyzed in creative ways, can provide a lot of interesting information.

Q: In your opinion what are the top three challenges facing pharma PR pros in 2016? What about the top three opportunities? The theme of the Summit was “hitting the resent button” — to that end, what is the ONE thing that the industry absolutely MUST do differently in 2016?

Daniel J. McIntyre: I’d say this was the main subject of my talk.  Science is at a point where the promise has never been greater, yet the isolation of pharmaceuticals for pricing attention threatens the resources needed to make those promises real for patients. Industry has to accept the reality that simply repeating the same messages of the past simply will not carry the day.

Wendy Lund: The one thing that the industry must do in 2016 is continue to understand and respect the power of the consumer — in our case the patient. Consumers are increasingly educated and involved in the decision-making process. To not acknowledge this or take it into account when developing a communications plan is to court failure. If you’re not already doing this, you need to start right away!

Get Ready for the Future: Attend the 12th Public Relations & Communications Summit

The 12th Public Relations & Communications Summit will continue this dialogue with top thought leaders shaping pharma’s PR and communication landscape for the future. Join ExL and more than 150 of your peers in July 2016 as we explore the latest trends, challenges and converging forces at play in the life sciences industry. Register now to attend, or sign up to receive more information as we develop our program.

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