I love working in healthcare communications because of the variety. Writers like me understand how cutting-edge medicines can fit into the healthcare ecosystem and how to explain it to different audiences: from patients and their loved ones, through healthcare professionals and policymakers, to payers and even investment analysts. We think about what each audience wants to know and write content that resonates with them. But if you’re thinking about working at a company like Havas Life Medicom you might still be wondering what we actually do! While every day is different, they’re often like this Tuesday in August…
I block out time each morning to go through emails that came in overnight. After anything urgent, other tasks get slotted into my schedule for the week. I manage a team within our PR & Creative Communications unit, so if any ad hoc needs come up I allocate the writer with the best balance of skills and availability.
The start of each week revolves around meetings. On client calls we update on current projects and take briefs for new ones. We can also learn valuable background information for future projects. A team meeting usually follows to agree priorities, spread the work across the team and ensure the project has feasible timelines.
Nothing gets the blood pumping more than diving into a new therapeutic area to prepare a new business pitch! My role is to be the first person on the team to understand the disease segment and how the potential client’s treatment fits. This raises questions for us to research, such as how different stakeholders talk about the condition and treatment, so we can propose the right strategy and tactics. Wins are great for morale, but even unsuccessful pitches let us flex our creative muscles. Great ideas never die – they stick in your mind until you adapt them for future campaigns.
Our team gets together every few weeks, to discuss our successes, challenges, or interesting articles we’ve read. It’s also an opportunity to make sure everyone knows about upcoming training or changes to team allocations. On another day, this could be a meeting of our Writers’ Academy taskforce of senior writers across the company, to plan in-house training.
Taking time outdoors is a piece of self-care that makes me more effective through the afternoon. Sometimes, the solution you’ve been looking for all morning pops into your head as you wander down the street for a sandwich!
Afternoons are about getting my head down to write! I wrote a Q&A document to help the client’s senior executive team respond to journalists’ questions, that was requested in that morning’s call. My role is to anticipate questions a reporter would be likely to ask, such as connecting clinical trial results with commercial aspects or corporate strategy, and to craft answers that are positive, on-strategy and compliant with any regulations. If asked about another company’s product, there’s not much you can say… but say it diplomatically!
As a part of our Quality Control process, several of us check each item before it goes to the client. I ensure each piece is scientifically accurate and supported by references (unless I wrote the first draft). It’s also important to check that the language is appropriate for the audience, and uses the agreed vocabulary (or “lexicon”).
Another day, I might review a social media playbook. Team members write these, but I check that the content is engaging, accurate and compliant, and contributes to the client’s strategic story.
Days with meetings can push “thinking” work to the end of the day. My brief was to develop meeting slides to stimulate discussion and strengthen our client’s relationships with patient advocacy groups in a rare disease area. I drafted an agenda and reviewed previous slides, deciding which to update or adapt, and where I needed to write new ones.
Little tasks got fitted around these chunks of work: helping clients to refine plans, discussing logistics with account teams, and advising people on other teams.
Sometimes there are “hold the front page” moments, dropping everything to help a client deal with breaking news. These can result in a late night drafting a response, or a live review session with the client’s medical, regulatory, commercial and legal experts. This is my favourite aspect of our work – it’s fulfilling to “turn down the heat” on a potential crisis by giving a journalist a statement that calmly explains the facts.
But thankfully, this wasn’t one of those days. I was able to log off at a reasonable time… before doing it all again the next day.
Andrew is Head of Editorial, PR & Creative Communications, Havas Life Medicom
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