Ged Carroll, who was appointed to the newly created role at the agency last week, admitted that pharma has traditionally lagged behind other sectors when it comes to adopting social media as a comms tool.
Creative use of social media
But he said regulations, such as UK restrictions on marketing new drugs directly to members of the public, should not prevent comms professionals from thinking outside the box.
The name of the game was connecting people who want to talk about health and wellbeing, the new digital chief said.
Carroll told PRWeek: "Our regulations shape what we can say and where we can say it, but they shouldn’t put limits on our creativity. In health when we communicate with the public, social channels have great power to connect people and build communities to raise awareness about important health issues and to ultimately get people to live better, healthier lives."
Carroll is tasked with bolstering 90TEN’s ability to deliver insights-driven, multichannel campaigns.
He has two decades of consumer and healthcare experience across advertising and creative agencies, most recently as a director at Digitas Health.
He previously built digital functions in London for Racepoint Global and in Hong Kong for Burson-Marsteller. Before this, he worked at Ruder Finn, Yahoo! and Edelman.
Authenticity over reach
Carroll argued that treating social engagement as a pure numbers game by targeting influencers with the highest number of followers was a mistake in modern healthcare comms.
He said: "What our audiences respond to is authenticity, and the influencer with the most authentic voice is rarely the one with the greatest reach. To have the best chance of improving people’s health, we need to look beyond big numbers and quick wins to find the places and people where our messages truly belong. We can buy reach, but we can’t buy authenticity."
More senior hires
Also joining 90TEN’s PR arm is Sarah Avent, who has taken on the role of associate director at the agency.
Avent joins the agency from Four Health Communications, where she worked for three years, rising to the post of practice director.
She has more than 15 years’ experience in healthcare and public sector health comms, including at Packer Forbes Communications and Athena Medical Communications, as well as the National Blood Service as a comms officer.
Both Carroll and Avent report to 90Ten managing director Peter Impey and are members of the agency’s senior management team.
Impey said: "Having worked with Ged in the past I know personally how transformative his work is. We not only have an amazing planner, but also a creative and digital strategist rolled into one."