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Q&A: Beth Whitworth

Gemma Jones interviews Virgo Health's director

Beth Whitworth

Beth Whitworth, Director, Virgo Health

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Having a job with purpose. I feel proud to work in an industry with endless opportunities to innovate, inspire and communicate with people in a meaningful way. And what’s so special about healthcare is we can make a difference to the lives of so many people in a way no other discipline can.

What’s the best thing about working in healthcare comms?

Working with such diverse, interesting and talented people. A real plus of working on integrated multichannel campaigns is collaborating with people who are specialists in their field. Every day I learn something new, whether from an SEO expert, a digital strategist or an analytics guru.

What’s the worst thing about working in healthcare comms?

I am a competitive person in my professional and personal life so it would be losing new business pitches. A huge amount of time, commitment and energy from the entire team goes into new business pitching so it’s disappointing when it doesn’t pay off. After a few commiseration drinks in the pub with the team, I try to turn the loss into a learning experience to help us win the next one.

What buzzwords/office jargon/ concepts get on your nerves?

‘Quick and dirty’ which is often used in relation to surveys. If you don’t invest time setting clear research objectives or crafting intelligent questions, you may as well as throw your results in the bin. I also dislike ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘game- changing’, often used when referring to a campaign idea or product. Both are over used and often simply not true. Lastly, ‘low-hanging fruit’. It’s a misleading and meaningless term. And taking the easiest option is not always the best solution.

Which book/ film would you recommend above all others and why?

book

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It had a real impact on me, which for me is a sign of a good book. Set in Nazi Germany in World War II, it’s a beautiful piece of storytelling that is thought-provoking and harrowing, yet triumphant. The protagonists are fighters and with every page, I found myself rooting for them more and more.

What’s your favourite bar or eatery?

It changes frequently but currently I’m loving Mercato Metropolitano. It’s a street food market packed with food stalls, bars and shops, tucked away off Borough High Street. It has a lovely leafy courtyard, so you can easily spend an entire day and evening indulging in Italian, British, Vietnamese or Spanish food produced from local farmers. I highly recommend the Pizza stall. It’s delicious.

Which person, living or dead, do you admire the most and why?

Beth and Brother

My brother. He’s one of the most intelligent, ambitious people I know and nothing phases him. He’s lived and worked all around the world from Beijing and Xi’an in China to Nairobi in Kenya. He works in CSR and public affairs and often speaks at UN conferences on how technology can help give poor people access to healthcare. He challenges my thinking and often has a different perspective on things, whether in relation to work, family life or simply discussing the latest movie.

Who’s your healthcare comms hero/heroine?

Margot

I’ve been inspired by so many people throughout my career but I’d have to say Margot Raggett. We worked together when she was the MD of Lexis PR and she’s an incredibly motivating woman. She left the company to pursue her passion for wildlife photography and founded the Remembering Wildlife Project, a ‘live-aid’ moment for wildlife photographers who come together to create fundraising books. Remembering Elephants, Remembering Rhinos and Remembering Great Apes have raised over £320,000 for conservation projects in Africa and Asia. As a wildlife enthusiast myself, I think it’s amazing that Margot is using her comms expertise to raise money for such a worthwhile cause.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Hack

Running a purpose-led innovation hack for RB at Cannes Lions international festival of creativity. We challenged teams to develop product solutions to protect children’s lungs from air pollution and I’ve never seen a group of people so energised and committed to tackling a worldwide problem. Winning a SABRE and Communiqué award made the hack even more special as it’s rewarding when campaigns you, your team and your clients have worked so hard on are recognised.

What’s your golden rule/piece of advice for someone starting a career in healthcare comms?

Be eager, inquisitive and stay on the pulse. The opportunities to grow and develop in healthcare comms are endless. Regardless of your level, volunteer to work on new business as it’s a huge learning curve and you’ll have the opportunity to work with a cross section of some of the most talented people within the agency. Ask questions and don’t become a ‘yes man’. And finally, don’t stop reading. The healthcare and comms landscape is constantly changing and evolving, especially as new drugs come to market and with advancements in technology and social media. You need to stay ahead of the game and constantly challenge yourself, teams and clients to deliver bolder, braver and more creative work with real impact.

8th November 2018

From: Marketing

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