The pandemic has resulted in a reputation boom for the healthcare and pharma sectors – traditionally, sectors the public has previously viewed with distrust. The irony, however, is that the pandemic has overtaxed comms professionals in these sectors to the point where they are struggling to reap the benefits of such a boost.
According to our survey of in-house comms, PR and marketing professionals in the healthcare/pharma space, 68% felt that the pandemic has changed the way the general public views the health and pharma sectors; saying that overall, they are seen in a more positive light.
The reputation boost was not just external either: over a quarter said the pandemic had increased their board level interaction; while almost a third said it had increased the perceived value of marketing/comms within the company.
In most scenarios, this would be gold dust for comms teams. Such shifts in reputation present themselves but rarely, and need to be capitalized on immediately. But the herculean task of running comms for a healthcare or pharma company during a global pandemic has left in-house teams with no spare capacity. When asked how the pandemic had changed their job, 43% said they work longer hours and 33% said their workload has significantly increased. Two in ten felt close to burnout.
Unsurprisingly, the demands of the pandemic have edged out ‘normal’ comms priorities: there’s simply not enough time for in-house teams to focus on creative or proactive ideas – even when working longer hours.
It’s not a sustainable state of affairs in the long-term. Reputation operates on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis: a reputational bounce will not last forever, so comms teams need to take advantage of it quickly – with both internal and external stakeholders.
Two immediate opportunities were identified in our data. When asked how the pandemic had impacted their relationship with key stakeholders, only 13% of respondents felt that some or all of their stakeholders trusted them more. This negative could be turned into a positive with the right campaign – the public goodwill is there, waiting to be channeled in the right direction.
Likewise, only 8% of respondents said they had seen an increase in their budget as a result of the pandemic – despite the fact that their value was increasingly being recognized within their own company. Again, here lies an opportunity to capitalize on the internal recognition of this value, and explain that comms teams cannot run on fumes – more time and resources are needed to transform a reputation boom into a long-term benefit.
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