Navigating the Latest Pharmaceutical Public Relations Challenges

Pharmaceutical public relations is more challenging than ever, but better communications and connections can help you reach a sophisticated audience.

PR professionals in the pharmaceutical industry know all too well the traditional obstacles they face with pharmaceutical public relations efforts. Regulatory matters, economic shifts and changing patient needs have long been hurdles for pharmaceutical communications. But a few trends have manifested in recent years and they’re creating considerable ripples in the pond. Pharmaceutical public relations strategies are now more challenging than ever, and the most effective approach is to embrace these new realities.

Communicating with Educated Patients

Pharmaceutical Media Relations
Patients are also consumers. They’re more empowered than ever with the information they can access online and the knowledge they bring into the doctor’s office. For pharmaceutical communications professionals, the shift requires considering the needs of the consumer-patient when building brand messages. Journalists and healthcare practitioners are no longer your only target audience.

Reaching savvy consumers means a more sophisticated approach to communications including:

  • Providing the information they’re actively searching for (which requires your team to coordinate with other departments);
  • Speak in personas that avoid pharma jargon (i.e., use a normal voice);
  • Utilize video, images and other rich media to convey your message;
  • Talk with them, using stories, not at them; and,
  • Be transparent and beware of phony “corporate speak.

Meaningful Connections via Social Channels

Traditionally, pharmaceutical public relations strategies have focused on pushing brand-centered messages out to the press and talking at consumers. Now with Social Media, the pharmaceutical communications environment has experienced a cosmic shift, allowing enterprises and their audiences to communicate directly. Unfortunately, most pharmaceutical communications professionals have struggled to adjust their tactics when faced with overcoming traditional PR methods. They’re also fearful of FDA implications (more on this later). Here’s how to fine-tune your approach:

  • Integrate images and stories in to your social media content;
  • Develop strategies to integrate user-generated content;
  • Familiarize yourself with FDA laws – or even develop a relationship with the FDA to better understand what can and can’t be posted or commented on in social media;
  • Listen and respond to your audience; and,
  • Ignore trolls – they’re everywhere.

The Millennial Approach to Healthcare:

There’s a popular conception that those born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s are somehow lazier and take a more lax approach to healthcare. However, a Harris poll demonstrated that Millenials share common medical concerns with Baby Boomers born decades before them. The challenge requires pharmaceuticals PR professionals to adjust their messaging accordingly:

  • Millennials are very focused on a work and recreational balance. Thus, they put a greater emphasis on their personal health, especially since they tend to lead active life styles.
  • They want to know their health care partners are focused on sustainability efforts. Messaging must reinforce these ideals.
  • Millennials are skeptics at heart and lack trust. The best way to build their trust is through transparency and providing clean data sources.

Millennials are visual content junkies. It’s how they communicate (think Snapchat or Instagram). Using heartwarming photos, visuals and video content – or better yet, telling visual stories using authentic video content – will help build the connections you’re seeking.

The pharmaceutical communications industry is rapidly evolving, creating a unique set of pharmaceutical communications challenges. But these changes offer exciting opportunities to enhance communications, develop deeper bonds and create stunning visual stories to an increasingly discerning audience.

Julie K. Jeffords specializes in content marketing and communications, with a focus on the solutions that help PR professionals create, distribute and promote their stories. ISEBOX’s innovative tools for developing electronic press kits enables PR specialists to leverage content and gain expanded coverage for their campaigns. To learn more, please contact us at or call us at (888) ISE-7275.


eBook: The 7 Pillars of Pharmaceutical Communications Wisdom

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