The Anatomy of a Global Healthcare Campaign

With my time in London officially in the rear-view mirror, and as I prepare for new opportunities back in Ketchum NY/DC, I’ve been thinking a great deal about what new skills and insights I’ll be bringing back with me. Yes, I have mastered the EU keyboard. And yes, I spell things in the EU style. But I think my most important takeaway by far is truly understanding what a global mindset in healthcare means, followed closely by what good, smart, campaigns in healthcare look like through that lens.

global pr healthcare campaign

First and foremost, a global mindset means excluding the US! This gets complicated when a brand’s global operation is within the US and 60-80 percent of their sales are out of the states. Once that’s sorted, identify the next biggest markets are around the world, and begin to prioritize your resources within those markets. Now, each of these markets have their own regulatory, clinical and access peccadillos, so understanding what the limitations and best practices are within those markets can help define the parameters of the global campaign with the best chance of success.

Next, your regions likely operate across a broad range of communications channels, and you will have to accommodate for all. The UK and Germany may want social engagement and video elements, but India and Poland may want a packet of template releases. Understanding these nuances from the outset will also help as you develop a global concept that can work across markets. And finally, time is every global campaign’s secret sauce… or kryptonite. If you give your regional experts enough time to review and adapt the campaign to suit their market, revise materials with local influencers, digest data and deploy resources, and plan and launch the campaign around other priorities, it will have the best chance for success. This window is between a 60-75 days in my experience. If you give them 30 days or less, local frustration and the probability of failure rises exponentially.

Much More Than a Toolkit

Most communicators, even those who don’t work on global campaigns, know these projects consist of toolkits that inform local markets how to execute the programs in their regions. Sounds simple, right? Not really, particularly if you want one that will get used successfully and with impact. Here are five basic rules of thumb to follow:

  1. Will this campaign concept work everywhere? Is it culturally sensitive? Is the concept tagline easy to translate? If it’s a clever pun in English, it’s likely a dud in German, so keep that in mind. How about the look and feel? Is it diverse both in thought and ethnicity? How about places? A ski slope won’t work in India, but a park will, so visuals should reflect as broad a region as possible.
  2. Are all the markets selected of equal priority? If we’re talking about a launch, will they all be launching around the same time or will it be phased? Likely, your toolkit will have to take into account a phased launch.
  3. Will every local market have the same access to the treatment at launch? Likely not, which means the treatment is widely available in some markets and only available through out-of-pocket payment in others. That impacts what local markets can actually do, so your plans must be flexible to account for that.
  4. The best campaigns start with local ambassadors from markets of priority. These ambassadors will be vital in helping you build a toolkit that the regions will use. They should also be consulted throughout the process and involved in the roll-out. That means, plan on extra time for materials review, feedback and consultation. Remember, secret sauce.
  5. Your toolkit needs to launch internally, before the local markets use it externally. Sometimes, this is covered in a “How to Use This Toolkit” memo, but the most successful campaigns take the time to give the campaign perspective and context, and build excitement for the results they will generate with their effort. So consider a launch video featuring a senior executive, or a special WebEx with regional communicators to give the campaign some extra attention and distinction.

Above all, nothing beats working on global campaigns to get a real sense of what will and won’t work, in any market, and I’ve had the privilege to work on several during my time in London. I’m grateful to all the pros in London and throughout Ketchum’s global network who work on them every day, and I’m happy to bring some of that knowledge back home to share.

Any questions, connect with me!

Kate Paxton has more than 22 years of experience in the public relations field, ranging from healthcare and corporate communications to issues management and advocacy relations. In her role within Ketchum’s Healthcare practice, Kate oversees a talented group of health specialists working on a diverse array of PR and medical education assignments. Kate is also responsible for designing high-impact global media relations, corporate positioning, physician and consumer education campaigns for pharmaceutical/biotech clients, medical technology companies and industry associations.