PharmExec Blog

PRSA Day 1: Talking’ Cross Gen

PRSAThe discussions over the next model for pharma fall all over the map, but include one central component: a conversation with consumers. How to do it? Here, Megan Svensen, executive vice president of healthcare for Marina Maher Communications, reports in from the annual Public Relations Society of America boot camp on healthcare.

I’m coming to you from the 19th Annual PRSA Health Academy meeting in Chicago. The topic this year is Health Care Communications Strategy: Boomers, Xers and Nexters…Communicating in a Cross-Generational/Cross-Cultural Landscape. The day began with a talk by Jane Brody, the “holy grail” of health columnists. She started off by talking about how we as PR communicators are vital to the health of the nation. I must say, it was nice of someone to notice.

Among her topics she talked about the need for compliance—the “holy grail” of pharma execs everywhere—and how we need to do a better job communicating why consumers should stay on treatment. It was the one message about how to lower our country’s healthcare costs that may be palatable to conservative industry colleagues.

And when I combine what Jane had to say with comments from a panel of communications directors from Chicago-based associations, the message I heard loud and clear is we must win back the public’s trust. But how do we do that in pharma when we keep shooting ourselves in the foot? Several of the associations on the panel took pride in the fact that they do not work with industry. While it hurts their bottom line, they felt it that was a small price to pay for credibility. Ouch!

Looking for solutions, I attended a session and then presented another on marketing to Baby Boomers. In looking at what information sources Boomers consider valuable, one of the presenters made the point that content—particularly in health magazines—is far more valuable than advertising. I think our jobs in PR are safe for another day. But seriously, we need to create content that can help empower Boomers (and other consumers) with the information they need to control their health, wherever their starting point and whatever their end goal. More later.

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