So the team told me I had to write the first post on our new CHC blog, Can’t Help Commenting. As someone who has quite a few opinions (just ask my colleagues and clients!) on communications and the critical role it can and should play in health and medicine I’ve actually found it pretty difficult to nail down a single topic. Perhaps this bodes well for the start of a blog – there should be no excuses if the blogs ‘dry up’.
But a few meetings and conversations in the last week or so have helped me arrive on a topic. Change. And how much what we do has changed in the last few years.
In the last few weeks we’ve been helping clients plan for 2016 and received several new business approaches and briefs for pitches and credentials meetings. The briefs seem to focus on how new technology and channels have changed what we do. Reading between the lines of these it would be easy to arrive at the conclusion that EVERYTHING about health and medical communications has changed in the last few years. It’s true that new technology is now available. That new channels, media and networks have begun to change the way our audiences and stakeholders engage and behave and that these are playing a greater and greater role in what we do. This is genuinely exciting for us as communicators but it’s also true that finding the correct and appropriate way to employ these channels is still being explored by the industry.
So how much has really changed?
When we then had a chance to meet and talk with these clients or potential new clients we actually arrived at a completely different conclusion. NOTHING has changed in what we as healthcare agencies do. Clients come to us with a proposed plan for their product or service which usually highlights some business opportunities and business challenges. We then work with them to highlight where communications can play a key role in addressing their business problems and capitalising on their opportunities and develop a plan to deliver on that. The clients expect us to understand the environment they are working in (whether that’s the UK or global), their business, the science and their stakeholders. And yes, they expect us to understand and be able to advise on all the strategic and tactical communication options and how best to use make use of them. If we’re working truly successfully with our clients, they then adjust and refine their plans based on our input and recommendations.
This is exactly as it was when I first started working in the industry in nineteen ninety… actually let’s not go there.
Oh, and the key thing that hasn’t changed? The biggest reason that agencies get fired/lose clients is because their level of day to day service, and the quality of what they produce and deliver, doesn’t live up to what was promised in a pitch and creates problems for clients. Potential clients still describe dread when opening an email delivering a key document from their over-stretched, un-supported junior agency executive.
So; EVERYTHING has changed but NOTHING has changed.
It was always our job to understand all the communications approaches at our disposal and how they can be used. It was always our job to deliver a great service. Two key concepts that have been and will remain at the heart of what we do at CHC.