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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Nurturing the growth mindset: The need for ongoing professional development in strategic medical communications

Writing is a skill, a craft, an art

Amy Jackson

Writing is a skill, a craft, an art.

See what I did there? I used three nouns that kind of mean the same thing and strung them together in a sentence that reads better than if I’d used fewer words.

Medical writing is no different to other forms of writing – there are techniques to learn, tricks to perfect and experience to accrue to ensure that words are churned out not only effectively, but fast enough to avoid perilous budget overspend. Medical communications agencies recognise this, and we invest heavily in our new writers, with exponential improvements usually achieved in their first year in the job. During this period, the fledgling writer is expected to master the fundamentals of medical writing: developing content that is accurate, concise, compelling, fits the brief, is suitable for the audience and medium, strategically aligned and compliant. This is usually accomplished through a mixture of on-the-job training and more targeted training courses, run either internally or externally.

However, the pressure of an increasingly competitive environment combined with more rigorous standards set by our clients and pharmaceutical industry regulatory bodies mean that we need to focus on continuously up-skilling our delivery teams, irrespective of their level of experience.

Not only is there vigorous between-agency competition but also competition from outsourcing companies; lurking in the shadows, there is the prospect of artificial intelligence (AI) replacing some elements of writing. AI remains an existential ‘threat’ for most of the writing undertaken by medical communications/education agencies but is increasingly being used for regulatory writing. For example, AI technology can expedite CSR writing by taking information from documents already in existence, such as study protocols, changing the tense and placing the text into the correct part of the CSR. To avoid conceptualising AI as a threat, we need to recognise that efficiencies introduced by AI create space for our writing teams to add their magic by providing context, interpretation and – above all – inspiration. To do this, we need to equip our writers with the skills needed to add value and create strategically aligned communications that speak to their target audience and help improve patient health outcomes.

At Lucid we are constantly challenging ourselves to enhance our professional development programme so that all our writers do more than hone the technical skills needed to deliver work of exceptional quality; we recognise that they also need to stay abreast of the latest regulatory and compliance changes, keep up to date with the science underpinning drug discovery programmes, the strategy that belies the marketing, and understand advances in the way we educate and communicate. Only by doing this can we create the magic formula that optimises programmes to positively improve patient outcomes through the work we do.

Amy Jackson is Editorial Director at Lucid Group

In association with

Lucid Group

19th September 2018

From: Marketing

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