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If you’re going global, go local and go early

Ondine WhittingtonA brief arrives in your inbox. You have been asked to develop an integrated communications plan for a global healthcare company. A plan that builds disease awareness, establishes unmet needs, disseminates data, connects stakeholders and mobilises advocates. You read on with enthusiasm as all these activities are part of the repertoire of today’s public relations professional. Then a complicating factor hits you. The plan needs to work ‘seamlessly and simultaneously’ across 31 markets.

These markets have diverse cultures and subcultures, different attitudes towards health and distinctive media consumption habits. They have different public and professional stakeholders who are influenced by a variety of local economic and political agendas. Oh, and by the way, resources are a ‘bit tighter than we’d like, but don’t let that limit your thinking’.

Sound familiar? It’s a situation that communicators from healthcare companies and their agencies face on a regular basis. In the past, we might have opted for an HQ-led global PR strategy that is handed over to markets for local adaptation. In rarer cases we may have worked closely with a handful of ‘priority’ markets to develop tailored strategies to meet their specific needs. Either way, it felt like we were compromising. It doesn’t have to be that way.

With advances in research and analytics capabilities, communications planning can be both truly global and cost-effective, but it requires early, focused engagement with all local stakeholders to generate insight that has real global applicability.

Virgo’s London team recently worked with colleagues from Istanbul, Beijing, Bangalore, Delhi, Guangzhou, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai and São Paulo to create a three-year, global campaign to challenge consumers to act on their exposure to air pollution. It was the initial planning work carried out in India and China that ultimately revealed the emerging trends and the behavioural insights that supported the global strategy; the same strategy that will be applied in European and North American markets in the years to come.

Similarly, the inspiration for a recent global women’s cancer campaign originated from work with colleagues based in the Middle East - an area that might be considered an unconventional source for strategic and creative insights on women’s health issues from a westerner’s perspective.

The fact is that more often than not the issues and concerns that affect patients and healthcare professionals are universal but how they appear locally leads to sweeping differences in attitudes. The universal human insights should shape campaigns at a global level and marrying that to local cultural, societal and economic nuances is the sweet spot for truly great global campaigns.

Ondine Whittington is managing director of Virgo Health

In association with

Virgo Health

8th June 2018

From: Marketing

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