On Monday, PRWeek revealed the 30 Under 30 list for 2020, which includes five healthcare comms specialists, four from agencies and one with an in-house role.
They talk about the future of comms in their sector, how they have navigated working during COVID-19 and how they think the pandemic will affect the industry in the long term.
Naiema Ashraf, senior account manager, WE Communications
The agency said Ashraf, who joined as an intern five years ago, was instrumental when it came to its success in winning new healthcare work last year. She has also won praise for her digital and training expertise.
After three months working from home, Ashraf is looking forward to the buzz of returning to the office and said the experience of lockdown had taught her the importance of looking after her mental health.
Ashraf has called on the industry to accelerate the drive towards greater diversity and she wants to see more people from BAME backgrounds in leadership positions to create lasting change.
Naomi Clarke, senior comms officer, Academy of Medical Science
Clarke, her employer says, has risen to the challenge of comms during the COVID-19 crisis by enabling journalists to connect with health experts for their stories. Indeed, her aptitude in this area has seen her seconded to the Science Media Centre (SMC) as a frontline press officer.
Between discussing possible quotes for the media with Nobel Prize-winning scientists or the Government’s chief medical officer and working long days fielding up to 30 media enquiries for the SMC, it’s fair to say that Clarke has been busy for the past few months.
When the day is finally done, Clarke winds down by baking bread, eating with her housemates and doing yoga.
Niamh Griffin, account director, WE Communications
A second entrant from WE, Griffin has been pivotal in the growth of the agency’s health business and is described as a leader among her peers and a mentor to junior staff.
Griffin says she is lucky to have been living with her partner, who works in the same industry, during the lockdown, but she has missed the liveliness of the office.
She thinks the legacy of the pandemic will be a more flexible and agile workforce, which is not necessarily based in London offices.
Annie Johnston, account manager, 90TEN
Johnston's work is driven by data, insight and empathy and she is credited with coaxing a traditionally cautious pharma firm to work with bloggers for the first time.
She says she was relieved to discover that her initial preconception that the industry was full of characters like those in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous was incorrect.
Johnston thinks the public will be more receptive to health messaging in the wake of the pandemic and that the media will be more interested in real-life heroes than celebrity influencers.
Misha Talheth-Fell, senior account director, Porter Novelli
Described as intuitive and insightful, Talheth-Fell has helped build Porter Novelli’s pharma client, Merck, into one of the top 50 largest across the global agency.
Talheth-Fell wants to see a distribution of the industry across the country, rather than having it concentrated in and around London, so that a wider range of people will consider it as a career path.
Asked where he sees himself in five years, Talheth-Fell says he hopes to have his own agency.
Click here to subscribe to the FREE pharma and healthcare comms bulletin to receive dedicated healthcare news, features and comment straight to your inbox.
Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.
To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the pharma and healthcare comms bulletin, email Ian.Griggs@haymarket.com