One of the best ways of communicating with a broad range of people is by using emotion and telling the stories we all relate to. In healthcare, issues and content can often be complex, so creating a simple and compelling message using story-telling techniques will remain an important trend in 2017. Using the faces and stories of people who use the healthcare system can bring the driest of topics to life – writes Rachel Rowson.
Technology continues to evolve and to shape the channels and techniques in our communications armoury. Rich media content is becoming more sophisticated and new ways to engage with a wide range of audiences have begun to emerge. One particular challenge in 2017 will be finding better ways to produce video content that will be watched without sound. Subtitles are fine, but making content effortless for consumers to engage with means that there needs to be a better way to get messages across, rather than literally spelling it out. Disease awareness, public health initiatives and other campaigns that aim to educate and inform lend themselves well to shareable, easily-digestible content such as video.
Live streaming on social media such as Facebook gives the opportunity for two-way communication in real time. The pharmaceutical industry continues to have difficulties engaging in two-way dialogue with the general public, but some companies have started to take the plunge with social media and it is reaping rewards. The potential to inspire and engage in real-time is huge. Being able to see a scientist working in a lab, a doctor in a clinical setting, and patients leading their day-to-day lives in real time, will create a new way to communicate and allow more access to areas of healthcare that previously have been off-limits.
Embracing digital channels in communications will enable better measurement of the impact of communications. PR has struggled to find robust ways of measuring outputs, outtakes and outcomes, but taking data-collection seriously and measuring the effect of communication through digital channels will see a rise in our ability to tailor digital communications strategies and develop campaigns in a more sophisticated way.
Finally, alongside the new audiences who must be communicated with, and new technology and techniques to experiment with, 2017 contains one key theme which will create an infinite number of communication hooks. The NHS’ 70th birthday celebrations kick off in mid-2017. This will lead to a period of nostalgia, reflecting on the amazing advances that have happened in science and access to healthcare in the last 70 years. This historic anniversary will present an opportunity to showcase the cutting-edge innovations which are being developed today. It will also encourage future-gazing and give a framework for charities, industry, and the NHS itself to paint a picture of what we might see in the next 70 years.