HealthCare PR – an essential skill for uncertain times

What’s impressive is how an industry lends its personality to us, as a communications professional.

Yet to understand and design impactful narratives for the Healthcare industry, would need a higher degree of seriousness to the job. And the current times have definitely taught us the importance and relevance of the diverse Healthcare sector, at large.

If someone would ask me to define Healthcare PR, I would probably base a lot of emphasis on research and applying the fundamentals of PR. But then hearing Rimmi Harindran on PRPOI’s #FBLive helped me learn a lot more about Healthcare PR and how one could start building a career in this sector.

These are few key takeaways from the PRPOI session with Rimmi Harindran, Regional Head of Communications - APAC Global Head of Communications General Medicine & Endocrinology (Interim), Merck Healthcare:

It’s definitely serious work

Work you do in Healthcare PR is far more regulated, in comparison to other sectors. Hence, the need of multiple approvals to be in place versus another industry. It really has the power to impact other people’s lives. And that’s the real differentiator. You cannot think of it in a frivolous way and I’m in no way undermining any other field. The weight, rather the outcome from Healthcare PR, is strongly backed by data and research, and what one does has the value to impact another individual’s life.

Often, the Pharmaceutical industry is highly criticised because of being high-priced. Despite formulating policies or working hard to help people, pharma companies are always the poster boy for a lot of bashing. But no one understands that it’s not a kitchen formula and actually takes decades to develop solutions. This has come of age and hit home now. Even if you think of COVID, if serious researchers don’t work in this area then we won’t have a solution.

Stay focused and buckle in for the long haul

Impacting another individual’s life might look interesting initially. But a few months down the line, the seriousness and need to be immensely vigilant for the minutest of actions might seem like a hurdle. In fact, it is similar to the intensity to a doctor’s profession. And this would sometimes be the breaking point for many to either stay or move on – from building a career in Healthcare PR. So, choose wisely.

What we are facing today is a great example of how Healthcare PR has shaped. Prominence of Healthcare PR and the need to add this expertise to a communicator’s skillset, couldn’t have been more relevant than the current times. The big picture, the strategy, the diverse view, varied markets – add a lot to the way you think you can add value as a communications professional.

Corporate Communications or PR agency – make both your learning grounds

We always understood the importance of personal wellbeing, but now more than ever. Suddenly everyone has now understood the value of teams, especially in healthcare.

Working at a PR agency, your strengths will come from understanding the business. Sometimes, you will have to make extra efforts to learn. In Corporate Communications, you get the inside-out view, whereas a PR agency gives you outside-in view.

From the purview of a PR agency working with Corporate Communications person, one might think that it’s always the agency doing the legwork, whereas the Corporate team is simply being a facilitator or basically chilling! But what one doesn’t know is that a Corporate Communications professional is doing the work of both teams. When you are in the company, you really have the inner view, have access to information, better understanding of how all this works. But it could often mean that the corporate communicator is playing the role of an agency within the company, navigating the internal functions. When at an agency you might be accountable, but the weight in the corporate side is much higher.

Understanding and accepting each other’s strengths is what will help create a valuable brand and a credible relationship.

Build strong foundations and learn to let go

The job is what you make of it. You have to expand your job as much as possible, if you wish to earn your seat at the table beyond just a communications professional. The foundations one could build as an agency person will always be a strong pillar to progress in your career.

Ensure you spend enough time learning in the initial years of your PR agency experience. Collaborate and partner well with your clients to grasp their requirements and how you can fill the need-gap. Stay abreast on the industry changes and what makes news. Always, apply your basics to the Corporate Communications role you move into and never lose sight of building a brand. For instance, in global roles, for brand perspective 80 is strategy and 20 is tactical, where the country perspective is managed differently.

This conversation is part of PRPOI Co-Founder Pooja Trehan’s session on Healthcare PR with Rimmi Harindran, Regional Head of Communications - APAC Global Head of Communications General Medicine & Endocrinology (Interim) Merck Healthcare.

The above is by special arrangement via a collaboration with PRPOI.

Watch the video here:


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