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Modern PR is diverse and polygamous

Social media and content marketing have certainly shaken up healthcare PR in recent times. There may be nothing new about communications tools like target group analysis, direct dialogue and relevant content – but…

  • thanks to social media they have picked up the pace significantly,
  • in many cases, the focus of dialogue has shifted from multipliers to directly addressing end customers (whether physicians or patients) and
  • content that only appeals to the company that produces it has long since become irrelevant.

The final point clearly indicates the digital transformation of PR in recent years. I remember well when the switch from print to email occurred. Realisation of the true email opening rate came as a bitter disappointment to marketers. A lack of direct comparison further rubbed salt in the wound – because they only had a vague idea how many of their printed mailings landed directly in the waste basket.

As long as it was impossible to know what the target group actually did with your marketing materials, it was of course possible to imagine the world is sunnier than it actually is. Digitalisation painfully awakened us to some cold realities. Years have since passed and we now have a better feeling for what rates we can regard as good.

Clippings used to provide evidence for publication and theoretical readership rates, but gave no clue about whether your messages were actually absorbed. By contrast, digital media offers us clear answers and provides constant feedback of click rates, dwell times and interactions. As disconcerting as it may be to realise that particular content is not so well received, it does help us to optimise content and fine-tune our communication channels.

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Promotion is out

The abandoning of promotional claims is a clear trend. Making promotional statements has never really been en vogue in PR – not even in sales-oriented product PR. Even so, storytelling and image communications were commonly associated with corporate communications. Today in product communications too it has become accepted that we provide relevant, product-neutral content for the target group.

Now in social media and content marketing spheres, the sheer volume of content offers the possibility of a balanced proportional distribution of product-related and supplementary information. Additionally healthcare communications can benefit from innovations, survey data and inspiration from conferences, as well as from tweets among the professional target group, for example.

Advertising is in

Doable after all? Yes, but not as a promotion. It is unconventional for me as a PR practitioner to endorse advertising. However, in recent years I have tracked the advance of SEM and see strong parallels in social media advertising. For numerous clients, we are now managing Facebook and Instagram advertising and this not only enables us to reinforce our content placement, but also precisely and directly contribute to marketing goals. There is still a lot of potential in this area.

Even when Facebook & Co. do not always make it easy for us, the ability to accurately reach target groups is a real benefit that could be exploited much more. This equally applies to patient communications and addressing professional circles on HCP portals.

Author: Nicole Tappée

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