Change is constant in this pandemic, so our priority must be to help our clients navigate this – but how?

The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated growth in many areas. Those of us agency-side in healthcare comms have had to innovate rapidly.

This pandemic has proved that data needs to be harmonised with a real understanding of human behaviour, Shayoni Lynn warns
This pandemic has proved that data needs to be harmonised with a real understanding of human behaviour, Shayoni Lynn warns

We’ve had to adopt new ways of reaching audiences: promoting safe behaviours, ‘Test and Trace’, reassuring residents that hospitals are safe, encouraging the use of regular services and connecting with at-risk communities. 

Mental health has become a key concern, with depression and anxiety soaring during lockdown; and with the threat of a second wave, local lockdowns and imminent winter pressures on the NHS, our work is far from done. Change is constant and the priority must be to help our clients navigate this. 

So, what should healthcare agency comms pros have on their radar over the next few months?

Set objectives 

We’re delivering at pace, but must continue to apply the core principles of strategic comms. That means setting SMART objectives at the outset. Don’t forget to establish your evaluation frameworks. Healthcare settings are complex and when we work in this area we work with multiple partners, not just our client. Think about how you’re collecting data. What processes and frameworks need to be put in place so you have all the information needed for post-campaign analysis? 

Who’s your audience?

This should always be front of our minds, but especially now. How granular can you get with audience segmentation? Think about who you’re speaking to, their influences and channels, and adapt comms to different groups. This is especially important with at-risk groups. The pandemic and homeworking has pushed broadband connections to the brink. Think about how to reach the digitally excluded.

Data is not enough

This pandemic has proved that data needs to be harmonised with a real understanding of human behaviour. We need people to change behaviours rapidly, adjust to new ways of living, adopt habits that seemed alien just months ago. How do we help clients deliver such change? It starts with the user. What do we want them to do? Why aren’t they doing it? Understand the behaviours and barriers. Develop solutions. 

Partnership relations is underrated

There are ways of amplifying messages without spending big bucks. The healthcare landscape is made up of partnership working, so use these partners. Think about their social influence and who can help amplify your message credibly. 

Forecast challenges

We get under the skin of clients’ sectors and industries to predict issues and challenges that might arise – a skill needed now more than ever. What else might come up? What else might go wrong? Always keep thinking about tomorrow. 

Shayoni Lynn is director and principal consultant at Lynn PR


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