What purposeful leadership looks like in healthcare comms

The pandemic poses plenty of challenges for healthcare PR pros, but there are also opportunities.

Clockwise from top left: Megan Driscoll, Lisa Fawcett, Rhonda Adams, and Jason Gilmore.
Clockwise from top left: Megan Driscoll, Lisa Fawcett, Rhonda Adams, and Jason Gilmore.

As rough as it's been, 2020 has proven the value of purpose-based leadership, agility and speed, and it may even attract talent to the industry, said three leaders on a healthcare communications panel at PRDecoded on Tuesday.

“If you look at what we’ve experienced this year, it really was a year unlike any other,” said Jasson Gilmore, SVP of global consumer and digital marketing at Allergan Aesthetics. “But while the circumstances are unique, I don’t think it changes what leaders should be doing. They should lead the team and they should carve out meaningful responsibilities for them and set goals that are worth their time.”

Megan Driscoll, founder and CEO of EvolveMKD, said she’s witnessed the economic benefits of leading with purpose at her own agency.  

“I have always viewed running a business as an opportunity for personal and professional growth for myself and my team,” said Driscoll. “I don’t mean really just from a business perspective. Since that’s been infused in our organization in terms of how we work together and in terms of our philanthropic effects since day one, I think that has made a big difference in my team staying very tight and staying very focused in all the things that we’re executing.”

While this year has underscored the importance of values, it has also shown that quickness and agility are as important in healthcare communications as ever.

“I think it's important to be thoughtful,” said Lisa Fawcett, VP of corporate marketing and communications at CooperCompanies. “But the fact is the things we are dealing with are so unprecedented, it can cause people to seize [up] and not want to make those decisions and not move quickly.”

Still, there are a few roadblocks in healthcare, the panelists said.

“Data driven marketing in general, those technologies have been adopted in most parts of the economy,” Gilmore explained. “They are well established and well adopted, but healthcare has lagged behind a bit. There are regulatory reasons for that and also talent reasons, and the opportunity in healthcare to innovate starts by attracting the right people into healthcare.”

Meanwhile, Driscoll noted that the number of channels used in marketing can be daunting. 

“I think what is challenging, in addition to speed, is all the channels that we have to think about to reach various stakeholders, whether it’s patients, physicians, patient advocacy groups or the financial community,” Driscoll said. “So that’s where we are at Evolve. We’re focused on keeping up with how those channels are changing and evolving.”

Ultimately, the pandemic may even highlight the importance of healthcare communications and help the field attract the talent it needs. 

“People who are looking for meaningful, purposeful work want to work on problems we’re solving,” Gilmore said. “We, as a space, really have the opportunity now to attract people like that into our category.”

Go here to re-watch this and all the other PRDecoded panels.

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