Creativity vs. Compliance: 5 tips for managing healthcare PR

PRCA Health’s event on ‘Creativity vs. Compliance: Striking the balance on social media in healthcare’ earlier this week provided a glimpse into how The King’s Fund and Hill+Knowlton Strategies manage integrated healthcare programmes.

As with managing strategic consultancy programmes in financial services, healthcare is another highly regulated industry that requires prior knowledge before suggesting creative campaigns to support a business purpose. Sadly such programmes can feel like ‘creativity vs. compliance’, but in reality it’s about building a relationship with regulatory teams and that’s done by being clear about what communications programmes are set out to achieve.

With most healthcare programmes the purpose is usually educating people about a particular condition or product, or creating empathy. Social media plays an immediately obvious role in this as we share health updates with friends, family or colleagues, seek advice online, and offers companies data to initiate highly targeted campaigns.

Despite the compliance aspects, it’s health campaigns that tend to be the most memorable for their creative flair. Such as Give Blood’s 2015 Missing type campaign, British Heart Foundation’s #RestartAHeart campaign, or Abbott’s #FreetoDream campaign. Proving compliance doesn’t need to be considered the enemy of creativity, but just an unavoidable condition of working with healthcare companies.

No matter what your compliance stage is as a health company, there are a few aspects to consider as you embrace digital.

#1 Work with compliance teams

Grumble behind closed doors about how limiting compliance teams can be, but it’s the role of PR practitioners to provide solutions. This is usually about building a relationship with compliance teams and often this starts with understanding each other’s goals and guidelines. Particularly when it comes to digital as it can’t be approached as an academic piece of text and has to consider compliance frameworks that allow for conversations.

#2 Experiment in the beginning

Every journey requires a first step, integrating digital activities into healthcare activities is the same. Rather than develop an all-encompassing digital strategy, focus on a small piece of activity with estimated deliverables. Use this project to gradually innovate healthcare programmes and as a proof point for senior decision makers.

#3 It’s 2017, the word ‘digital’ can be unhelpful

The King’s Fund don’t have a digital strategy, instead they focus on content and ensure all relevant teams are involved at the start of the content creation process. This is so social media doesn’t remain an afterthought. Whilst every journey requires a first step, it is 2017 and newspapers alone are just not going to be enough.

#4 Jargon is your enemy

Do you harness forward thinking strategies? Leverage best of breed practices? Look to achieve sustainable clarity of message for strategic communication plans without getting too granular? Please STOP! Health is full of enough jargon without introducing management speak, especially if you want compliance teams to understand PR plans. Oh, and follow @managerspeak for some more jargon wankry.

#5 Use people and online communities

The ones who know best about their health condition or your product are customers/patients. Give people a reason to engage with your campaign, sometimes this is simply about putting people in contact with each other such as Colontown, ‘an online community of more than 40 “secret” groups on Facebook for colorectal patients, survivors, and caregivers’.

 

Leading on Lansons’ digital activities means being experts in compliance based industries, health is by far the most challenging and potentially innovative industry when it comes to creative campaigns.

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