In healthcare communications, how do you balance the necessary control of regulatory and legal with the need for creativity? A panel at the recent Advertising Week 2012 – billed as A Discussion of Creative Destruction and its Impact on Communications – attempted to provide at least partial answers.
The panelists were all passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. But at times – and truly, this is in no way a knock on the session or the panelists – following the conversation was like following a ping pong match. In 45 minutes, we covered, among other topics, content curation, mobile technologies, advertorials, and bloggers. True to some explanations of creative destruction, it was a messy (in a good way) way of exploring how creativity can change a company’s progress.
I was encouraged that many of the points made were about paid media and walked out thinking that PR/communications was actually ahead of advertising in creatively facilitating brand engagement. I think PR’s edge comes from a constant focus on authenticity, on digging deep to understand how to connect with audiences. We know how to create a dialogue with stakeholders so that our messages are not only seen, but also heard and understood.
Allowing creative destruction to reign at the session about creative destruction was apropos. B. Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz International (formerly Kraft Foods), said he felt lucky to work at a behemoth of a company that wants to act and perform like a start-up, enabling him to break down silos and let their creative be more…creative.
Christine Osekoski, publisher of Fast Company, referred to Fast Company’s work with Porsche (an advertiser) as a partnership, saying it had to be “natural” and “pure” and “not icky” or else it wouldn’t resonate with the audience. Everyday Health’s Laura Klein said authenticity was at the heart of all they do and that they live by the simple motto, “do the right thing.”
In the end, the consensus of the panel seemed to be this: let go. Let go of the stodgy marketing plan that outlines exactly where you will be and when. Let go of the bad advertorial that talks at that audience, rather than providing them a truly valuable experience. Let go of statistics and market research and start to listen and really understand the community in which you’re delivering your message. Let go of forced thinking that leads to forced “creativity.” Instead, give creative destruction – messy thinking that delivers progress – a chance.
In healthcare communications, the challenges are many. Messy thinking and letting go probably aren’t high on the top ten lists of legal and regulatory, but creativity is just as – if not more – important in industries like health. When I look at some of our most successful campaigns, they were the ones developed in partnership with clients who we willing to let go and let creativity flow.
When B. Bonin Bough was asked if companies are ready for this era of thinking differently, he answered “they need to be.”