Throughout the course of human history, storytelling has played a vital role in written and verbal communications. From the oral traditions and hieroglyphs of ancient civilizations to the digital content of today, storytelling has always been a powerful means of sharing ideas. Forbes notes that there actually is a science to the effectiveness of storytelling – in short, “nothing else works.”
In our experience, clients in specific industry segments may overlook the importance of a good story due to busy schedules, travel and other “distractions”. When it comes to communications in healthcare for instance, oftentimes businesses become so focused on the technical details of their products, services or discoveries that they neglect to utilize the most powerful (and simple) tools in communications. In this blog, we’ll feature ways that a MedTech or healthcare company can utilize the art of storytelling in PR and strategic communications to gain media coverage, fans, followers and customers.
Make it Personal
Effective PR is all about relaying information and relating to your audiences. We’ve noticed that all too often, medical device and healthcare providers can fall into a habit of communicating in overly-scientific terms when addressing customers or patient populations. Medical device related press releases, for instance, sometimes read like scientific journals – they’re very informative, but can lack a certain level of relatability.
When asked by Stanford MedicineX about the importance of storytelling in medicine, Dhruv Khullar, MD, MPP, stated, “while academia is good at generating knowledge, medical professionals consistently fall short in taking these insights and making sure they’re translated into real-world impact — a failure that’s in part due to the type of language they use. We’re very cautious, we’re very nuanced. X might be associated with Y, or there’s a signal toward Z. But most people talk in a more direct and forceful manner.”
Pharmavoice notes that, historically, “pharma marketing leaders have been hesitant to create stories around disease and medicine, thinking such topics are too serious for storytelling.” And while researchers may think their hard-earned research and discoveries can speak for themselves, a story line can help consumers sift through the sheer volume and diversity of health information – making it easier to remember and understand because the emotional response of a human experience helps the brain break down complex concepts.
Crafting the Narrative
If you are launching a PR campaign highlighting your new solution or device, start by developing a human interest piece that captures a unique benefit or experience from a customer’s perspective. The key here is to craft story lines that speak to each point of the patient process – how the patients and/or customers benefits from a new product, what were their challenges, and how were they overcome.
Pharmavoice’s article on healthcare storytelling states that, “there should be a story that resonates at the time of treatment, at diagnosis, at pre-diagnosis, etc., and therefore no matter where the patient is he or she can relate to the character at any entry point.” Highlighting personal accounts of success in target-specific case studies will not only educate your audiences, but also make them feel more comfortable about becoming a patient or customer themselves.
Additionally, crafting a narrative about your brand can add a unique benefit from a professional PR perspective. Talking about the founders and their journey, the inspiration for the creation of the device or solution, and/or industry challenges/successes all add an element of relatability to a communications narrative that can help make your product stand out from competitors.
Highlight Your Successes
The objective of any PR campaign is to build or enhance your company’s reputation as well as help shape public opinion about your brand or offering. Utilize narratives to show that your company is making continual progress and achieving key milestones. This can include the closing of a round of funding, favorable results of your clinical trials, highlighting a medical study that relates to and enhances your product, etc.
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