So what should you look for in a healthcare PR agency? Look for five key qualities:
Strategic and tactical depth
First and foremost, medical brands need an agency that understands medical marketing. The agency staff members don’t have to be “ex-industry” former sales reps. (In fact, that can be a detriment-look for creativity first, industry knowledge a close second; otherwise, you’re just replicating skills you already have in your sales and marketing organization.) But they have to understand the challenges of communicating complex, sometimes life-and-death issues to patients, physicians, allied health professionals, and potentially other target audiences unique to medical marketing: caregivers, payers, and more.
Building on their experience and knowledge, your healthcare PR agency partner should demonstrate the depth needed to explore difficult but vital strategic questions regarding brand positioning, targeting, and messaging. And your partner should be able to conceive of tactical solutions that will help support your strategic direction. Not just the expected, must-have, nuts-and-bolts laundry list-websites, blogs, collateral, etc. -but innovative ideas in multiple media that enable you to communicate effectively with any and all constituents.
Giving your brand an appealingly distinct and strategic-driven identity… developing a compelling, cohesive idea that unifies all tactics both online and offline…then executing the tactics consistently well-these are the hallmarks of true conceptual creativity. Make sure your healthcare communications partner can deliver.
Complete, healthcare-dedicated writing services
Creating strong copy for your tactics is one of the biggest challenges in the business. Medical copywriting isn’t like other copywriting. Beware of any potential partner who tries to say otherwise. Never settle for “good enough.” In addition, your healthcare advertising agency should offer technical writing capabilities-for example, the ability to create content for drug monographs or device manuals.
Excellent design in all media
Good copy is especially important in healthcare public relations. But so is design. In healthcare segment, as in all advertising, people tend to see the images first, words second. Make sure your brand looks its very best at all times-on the Web, at conventions, in print, on television…everywhere it appears. Here, too, never settle for “good enough.”
Developing healthcare communications is a collaborative process. Agency team members have to work well with each other, and they have to build and maintain a positive, productive collaboration with their client. When you meet your potential agency partner, watch them work together. Do they look like they enjoy working together? If so, you’re more likely to enjoy working with them. There’s more to look for in a healthcare PR agency. But if they have strategic and tactical depth, creativity, strong writing and design, and good chemistry, you have the makings of a potentially good partner.