27 Mar 2023

Top three takeaways from PharmaComms 2023

MHP were thrilled to be at the PharmaComms Conference 2023, organised by PR Week, where comms professionals from across the industry met to exchange ideas and perspectives about the shared challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

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One of MHP Health’s Associate Directors Isabelle Scali spoke on the “Becoming better storytellers: how to innovate the comms mix for greater impact, engagement and cut through to key stakeholders” panel.  Below our team on the ground offer their top three takeaways from the day. 

The resolute power of storytelling in a digital world  

Even though the media world we live in has dramatically changed, the value of storytelling in ensuring campaigns and communications reach audiences in a meaningful way remains. Creating that emotional connection with audiences continues to be an essential lever to change minds, and beyond the data and expertise the pharmaceutical industry provides in abundance, storytelling continues to be where communicators really shine and add value.   

Where and how these stories are told is where innovation in communications can really happen. Today’s reality is that audiences, whether policy makers, healthcare professionals, patients or journalists, look for information and expert opinions about science and health online.  This is where content needs to live and pharma needs to have a voice.  Whether working with influencers that can help engage audiences around key issues and calls to action, to creating content that is agile and dynamic and suited to the selected channels, there continues to be many ways pharma and health communications can and should continue to be innovative. 

VPAS looms large 

Not so much an elephant in the room given how often it was referenced, but certainly a recurring theme, was the status of VPAS.  There have been intense – and tense – negotiations between the pharmaceutical industry and UK Government in recent months about how medicines reimbursement will work in the next phase of the agreement.  For comms professionals, navigating this tricky relationship and the uncertainty it is causing in the industry, whilst trying to do the day job of telling stories, engaging creatively with audiences and defining how companies present themselves externally, is a challenge.  But, as delegates were reminded, people working in pharma comms love a challenge, and those who are equipped with a good understanding of the policy environment will be best placed to meet it.  VPAS 2.0 is a ‘known unknown’ and, until that becomes a ‘known known’ the focus must be on ensuring that the comms function continues to present the huge value that campaigns bring to the access and innovation environments and how these meaningfully improve patient outcomes. 

Communicating with authenticity

Throughout the day, we heard reccurring themes of managing risks and opportunities related to sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and regulation – themes which delegates were reminded must be channelled into the day-to-day production of comms to communicate with authenticity.  

Speakers throughout the day explained that diverse representation in campaigns and communications helps to ensure that the needs and perspectives of different patient populations are rightly taken into account. Coupling this with demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, pharma companies can build trust with consumers and stakeholders through communications, leading to the development of more effective and inclusive healthcare campaigns. The companies that do take a proactive approach to managing environmental and social risks, and extend these into their communications campaigns, are almost always better positioned to avoid reputational damage, regulatory fines, and other potential negative impacts on their business. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about MHP Group’s comms offering, get in touch via our website. 

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