In many ways, social media has greatly improved our ability to engage with audiences about timely topics that impact health and wellbeing. Through channels like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok we’re able to connect directly about the latest innovations in treatments and therapies, driving consumers to seek more information from their healthcare providers.
This is critically important today, given our strained healthcare system and the increasing need to prevent illness and improve patient care.
Using sophisticated analytics, we have the capability to zero in and reach our audiences with messages that will be meaningful to them, through voices they trust, where they consume information.
With information comes responsibility. It’s important to deeply understand the impact of our message on the audiences we are reaching. Industry and providers alike need to be conscious of their actions.
While Health Canada recognizes the importance of the pharmaceutical and medical industry and allows companies to share information with the public, there are strong guidelines around how information is provided to ensure that it is being promoted through the proper channels under the right directives.
Every day, we work with dozens of innovators and providers on specialized multifaceted and often multilanguage campaigns that share information about life changing medicines and devices through earned and sponsored content. Working in a highly regulated environment requires us to be very critical of the message to avoid misrepresenting the purpose of a treatment, promising false hope, or guiding patients living with a condition to seek something that’s not right for them.
What it boils down to is ethical responsibility. Doing the right thing.
As communication leaders we have a great responsibility to educate and inform our audiences about the signs and symptoms of diseases and conditions, treatments and therapies that can extend and improve the quality of their lives. It’s important that the information we generate is accurate. When misinformation arises, we have the responsibility to thoughtfully join the conversation in a timely manner and add educated voices. Even when the conversation becomes challenging and controversial.
How to approach a health focused integrated social campaign:
- Have a clear understanding of communications goals
- Establish a strong foundation of trust—work with clients to ensure that everyone is aligned in the purpose and full buy-in is granted from all advisors and decision makers (medical, legal, marketing, communications, and C-suite)
- Understand the audience, the landscape and clearly define your message
- Work with key opinion leaders who can help deliver information with authority
- Analyze how media and social media play together to create meaningful conversations
- Prepare scenarios on how to approach a situation in both a proactive and reactive manner
- Don’t set it and forget it… Stay present in the conversation and respond appropriately
When it comes to social media, we can’t control the narrative, but not having a voice will leave space for misinformed information to circulate. It takes courage to speak out, but the risk of saying nothing at all can have large consequences.
——— Jennifer Obeid is a former Vice-President, Healthcare at NATIONAL Public Relations