UK pharma body launches Value Story campaign to enhance industry reputation

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is rolling out a multi-year campaign to highlight the positive values of the industry, following a number of new hires in its comms team.

A better pill to swallow? ABPI looks to improve pharma reputation (Credit: Jamie via Flickr)
A better pill to swallow? ABPI looks to improve pharma reputation (Credit: Jamie via Flickr)

Value Story aims to increase public awareness of the value of the pharmaceutical industry, new scientific advances, research and development by the industry, and the impact it has for patients and their families, for the NHS and the economy.

The campaign will involve media relations and journalist briefings, storytelling through web content and social media, and debates with partners and stakeholders. It comes at the same time as the Europe-wide industry body begins a programme with MHP Communications to promote the value of outcomes in healthcare services, as reported last week by PRWeek.

Aileen Thompson, executive director of comms at the ABPI, said: "Our industry is operating under significant political, policy and reputational pressure, with several critical policy pieces coming together now and in the future.

Thompson went on to say: "The time is right to dial up our communications to enhance the profile of our industry and the people who work in it. We have an incredible story to tell, to share, to debate – and patients are the centre of it. We believe that by increasing the industry’s profile, we can enhance our reputation as well as increase society’s and the NHS’ appreciation of the value the innovative medicines we bring to life deliver."

This chimes with the view of John Higginson of the comms agency ICG, who wrote in PRWeek in December that big pharma needed to display more "boldness" in its comms, saying: "There is no other industry in the world today with a greater gap between the good that it does for society and how that same society perceives it."

Thompson herself joined in the ABPI November 2014. Since then Audrey Yvernault, director of external and government affairs, has returned from maternity while Elaine Towell joined at the end of last year as head of media relations, taking over from Karen Borrer who has now assumed the role of head of reputation. Previously Towell was senior comms manager at Nuffield Health and before this media relations manager at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Working with Towell will be Deborah Field, who joined the ABPI’s corporate affairs team last year as media relations executive, from the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, and CIPR PR manager Andrew Ross, who will join the ABPI in April.

Last month the ABPI hired Lexington Communications on a one-year contract, following a competitive pitch, to provide public affairs monitoring, government affairs and comms support.

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