As part of our Trusted Advisors series, our web editor meets with the Firm’s leadership for one-on-one interviews on their experience, expertise and professional journey. We’re happy to present the latest of these interviews with a voracious reader, world-class traveller and in some way the Hermione Granger of healthcare communications: our colleague Miranda Dini, managing partner of our AXON UK office in London. Oh, and one friendly piece of advice: we wouldn’t recommend that anyone put themselves between her and a piece of dark chocolate. Consider yourselves warned!
Miranda, what types of projects do you mostly work on?
At AXON UK, we work only on healthcare communications. Our clients are pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and we also work with animal health clients. It’s basically anything that has science at its core. Our job is to help clients develop communications for different types of audiences around either a device, a drug, a group of drugs or their pharmaceutical company.
We also do a lot of work in the fields of clinical trial services and market access. The first one refers to the recruitment and retention of patients to test new drugs, while the other is about ensuring that people have access to the drug/device once it comes to market, and creating an environment in which regulatory bodies understand the value of having access to it.
Do specific audiences determine how you will build your communications strategies?
It’s all about the audience. The message is different if you’re talking to the public about a disease than if you’re talking to healthcare professionals. PR is usually targeted toward a general audience, the public, working with traditional or social media, whereas medical communications, which are another key aspect of our business, are about targeting and educating physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals directly. Patients can often fall between the two, so the channels can sometimes overlap.
How does working on global projects impact your day-to-day healthcare communications activities?
At AXON UK, the vast majority of our work is global. What that means is that we are working with pharmaceutical companies’ international headquarters to help them develop global strategies that will work in different markets. What may vary from one country to another is the way in which it is executed, but the strategy and the objectives remain the same. That’s how we help our clients develop a strong core strategy.
What part of your work are you most passionate about?
From a team perspective, the one thing that I care about the most is the talent in our agency. I think we’ve got some of the most amazing people at AXON UK (and probably at the entire Firm, but my responsibility is limited to the UK!). It’s all about finding people who are starting out or are at a tipping point in their professional life, and giving them the opportunities to really shape their career. Another thing that we’re quite passionate about at AXON is not trying to put square pegs into round holes, but allow people to identify something that they are passionate about, and give them the structure and framework to help them drive that career path forward. So it’s not about having set career titles, roles or responsibilities. Instead, our approach is to say “Ok, you’re interested in this? Run with it!” We’ll be there to help and support them, but they need to take ownership.
From a personal perspective, what I’m most passionate about is working with clients to deal with problems or challenges that they have, targeting them head on. It’s all about listening to what the client’s challenge is and coming up with a solution, often times focused on a strategic rather than tactical perspective. That’s what I really enjoy.
In your opinion, what is the most important quality of a PR practitioner in your area of expertise?
I’d say there are actually three very important qualities we value here at AXON UK.
- Having a passion for science because we are a highly scientific agency. Some agencies that do healthcare communications are “softer”, if I can say, whereas our services are really science-driven. You don’t necessarily need a science degree, but a keen interest in science is a must.
- Being flexible. You need to come in every morning and know that whatever you planned for your day is highly unlikely to actually happen that way! That’s just the way it is in our business.
- Be able to translate complex concepts into information that will resonate with different target audiences. In a way, it’s about decoding what people are saying and taking it to another level.
Fun facts about Miranda
I was born in: Chicago
Favourite food: That’s a hard one to specify. Favourite food has to be Italian. I’d say ribollita (a Tuscan vegetarian stew). But for my last meal (and frankly most meals), I’d need some dark chocolate!
Favourite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favourite book: I’m a voracious reader, but The Shell Seekers stuck with me for decades and drove my desire to live in the UK.
If I didn’t work in Communications: I’d own a small boutique, selling clothes, accessories and housewares (a mini Anthropologie).
If I could be a superhero, I’d be: Does Hermione Granger count? (Editor’s note: You bet she does!).
If I could be on a reality TV show, it would be: Location, Location, Location
If money didn’t matter: I’d be enjoying splitting my time between my homes in London, New York, Sardinia, Provence, Nantucket and the Dolomites (transporting myself to each via my superpower)!
Number one travel destination: Japan
Most memorable vacation: My honeymoon in Bali
If I could be a celebrity, I’d be: Kate Hudson. She seems to emanate sunshine (something I don’t do on any level)!
Favourite past time: Travelling (for pleasure). Closely followed by reading. Reading while travelling?
Person I most admire: Pope Francis. He is using his power to effect change.
First concert I ever went to is: R.E.M.
Favourite musician: Donna Summer
Guilty pleasure: Rationalising that the spicy dark chocolate I eat every night is actually healthy for me.