In her overview of creativity in the healthcare [[wysiwyg_imageupload:161:]]industry, Nancy Hicks, Senior Vice President, Associate Director, North America Healthcare Practice, notes that healthcare companies are eager to be first in scientific or clinical innovation but that this drive to be first often stops in communications, which lends to a “me, too” style of creativity.

Building off of this theme, we asked colleagues at Ketchum to share their insights on how to help clients stand out as creative leaders in an industry that often relies on following other leaders. Participants in this discussion included: Harry King, Practice Director, London; Jon Hendl, Senior Vice President, New York; Diane Johnson, Vice President/Account Supervisor, Washington, D.C.; and Sarah Unger, Managing Account Supervisor, Creative Catalyst, New York.

JON: First, you need to be immersed in your client’s issues and be willing to think about solutions more broadly than just within public relations. Creative leaders aren’t bound by a discipline or channel. They find the best pathway to reach the targeted audience.

HARRY: For healthcare clients, the majority of communications topics tend to either be quite serious or complex. You really need to work with clients to understand how your target audiences think and feel about your communications issue. By doing this, we can overcome any subjective assumptions and develop a creative brief based on genuine insight. This is really important.

JON: Challenge conventional thinking by asking insightful questions that allow clients to think of their approach in different ways. In healthcare, there are a ton of gray areas – help guide your client down these pathways by understanding their comfort level and how they might be able to expand their boundaries a bit further.

HARRY: Upfront briefings really help. They should clearly communicate the objectives and all the insights. Outlining how the regulations, and in pharmaceuticals, the complete prescribing information,  influence what you can and cannot do also helps, especially as we’re more frequently seeking input from colleagues in other business sectors and from the specialist service teams.

SARAH: Look at leading creative campaigns, trends/influences and thought leadership and cull it down to the essential, most basic elements. We may not be able to replicate the concept construct for healthcare because of limits, but the essential psychological reasons behind why something resonated with consumers are applicable. What made that campaign sing? Was it the visual nature of how the information was communicated? We can certainly try to communicate our healthcare information visually rather than through text.  

DIANE: Understand a client’s threshold for being edgy: is the client a “forgiveness asker” or “permission seeker?” This nuance can determine our ability to be creative in non-traditional ways.   

HARRY: Some clients challenge you to present highly innovative creative ideas, but when it comes to decision time, especially in pharmaceuticals, they default to a very conservative position. Working within a regulated industry doesn’t mean you need to be less creative, but you need to carefully manage creative processes.

In: Creativity  /   filed under: creativity | healthcare communications