The key trends shaping health comms for 2020? It's all about data, storytelling and relevance

Effective healthcare communications is no longer the product of gut instinct and experience; in 2020, it has become a science in its own right.

Storytelling will always hold power; insight and data must inform our narratives, but not drive them, says Kate Hawker
Storytelling will always hold power; insight and data must inform our narratives, but not drive them, says Kate Hawker

Data is the strategic driving force

Not long ago, marketing comms were built on a mix of gut instinct and experience; the brainchild of a planner, a great account lead, a brilliant creative. Now, data is becoming the driving force shaping our strategies, and I'm sure I won't be the first – or the last – to tell you, it is extremely effective.

But how do we use it – take the raw data, data dumps, screenshots of dashboards, and bring it all together to find an insight? 

Data helps us uncover what is sometimes, rather intimidatingly, referred to as 'a profound observation'. To do that, we dig deep into the information and then take a step back. 

Why? Because an insight is a human observation. You can't read it somewhere; it must be realised. Once it enters your mind, you'll know right away. It'll seem so simple; too simple. The irony is not lost that this is most difficult part.

Storytelling will always hold power 

The audience, whose decisions we seek to influence, don't always get excited by data or insight; they make decisions emotionally, then justify them rationally. That's why insight and data must inform our narratives, but not drive them. 

Use your insights to uncover and create a balance of emotional, powerful and personal stories backed up by rational thought and data-driven evidence. This is the only way to create a story that is truly meaningful and insightful.

How is relevance relevant?

In the digital attention economy, successful companies closely connect what they say and what audiences expect. This keeps them relevant, driving consideration, advocacy and intent. Failure to stay relevant can be catastrophic. In the past 15 years, 52 per cent of S&P 500 companies disappeared. By 2027, 75 per cent of companies currently listed will be replaced. Was a lack of relevance to blame? I suspect so.

Moving forward

Ask yourself: are you using the right data sets and insights to discover topics that matter most to your audience? Are you telling your staff and audiences the right stories so they feel connected to your brand/organisation? Are you measuring your relevance, and how do you plan to build on it?

Use these questions and your answers to shape your 2020. The better we can navigate this data-enriched world, and land the right stories at the right time, the more effective and successful we will be as healthcare innovators. 

We are the ones shaping the voice of our industry, making it relevant and leading the healthcare industry in doing a better job – which is all we can ask for as a New Year's gift.

Kate Hawker is practice lead at W2O

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