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Tracking comms trends: 2 + 2 = 7: bad maths, or good sense?

From multi-disciplinary teamwork to pharma’s reputation, value and access to global briefs, our contributors tackle some of the key topics in communications today

Pegasus Jo SpadaccinoThe true meaning behind Aristotle's turn of phrase 'the whole is other than the sum of its parts' is the subject of some debate. However, one element speaks true regardless: the outcome, the 'whole', is different to what's put in, the 'parts'.

It applies to just about anything. How salt and pepper have their own thing going on, but adding both to a set of ingredients will elevate a dish. How a single flower can be beautiful, but a considered bouquet can lift a whole room. And it's true for people too. Whether it's a premier league football team or a FTSE 500 board of directors, what makes these high performing teams so successful is how their differing skills and attributes work together.

The power of good multi-disciplinary teamwork has been embraced for years in the business world – so why is it making an appearance in a piece on trends in healthcare communications? Are we that far behind?

Thankfully, the answer is no. But there have been some notable changes in the type of skills being sought to enhance the multidisciplinary team. To explore this further, let's split out the 'healthcare' and 'communications' sectors.

Healthcare first, specifically the pharmaceutical industry which is, perhaps more than most, experiencing a seismic shift. For a whole host of well-documented reasons, from the bursting of the scientific innovation bubble to the stretched purse-strings of those purchasing the produce, the tried-and-tested multidisciplinary team within this sector has started to look a little inadequate. The response from pharma though, has been encouraging. Economists, innovation hubs, a move to focus more on health outcomes than unit sales... It's a good start.

But then look at how these businesses are using their multidisciplinary teams to communicate. As patients (or dare we say it, the 'public') become ever more empowered in the management of their health, the pharmaceutical industry is seeking more insight into the psychology and behaviours of this broader group. While it could be argued that a customer-centric approach and all that comes with it should always have been a part of the multidisciplinary team's toolkit – even when prescribing clinicians were the only target – it's clear that the proliferation of audiences in recent years is fuelling ever-greater sophistication in this area.

A further trend is additional digital expertise, with technical prowess from programme developers to data analysts being added in droves, both in-house and agency-wise. For both of these trends we are seeing pharma look outside its own walls – fresh, unsullied thinking is what is craved.

So are we cracking it? Well it comes back to Aristotle, as it's clearly not enough to add in new ingredients and expect something beautiful to happen. It takes hard work, passion, empathy and openness, self-awareness, curiosity, systems and time. Whether the team is under one roof, or collaborating across different organisations (a topic worthy of an article in its own right), it's worth remembering that the best parts are nothing without the glue that brings them together.

Article by
Jo Spadaccino

is director, pharma & life sciences at Pegasus

1st July 2016

From: Marketing

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