11th March 2021
Into the unknown – launching into the world of strategic healthcare communications
It’s been two years since I joined the team here at Consilium Strategic Communications, which seems a good moment to reflect on how I decided to take the plunge and move into healthcare, after three years working in a generalist financial PR firm.
Before joining a new company in an unfamiliar sector, naturally there are fears to be overcome. I thought I’d share with you my three main concerns, and how they were quickly debunked.
Number 1: I didn’t do a science degree – will I be able to keep up?
This was a big one. How could I hope to understand what was going on in the biotech and pharmaceutical worlds without a PhD in biochemistry?
On the one hand, it’s perfectly true that there is a whole world of vocabulary, terminology and drug names to become familiar with. On the other hand, this is the case for any role in any sector – and being able to keep learning is a challenge I’ve enjoyed. I studied languages at university, and I like to think that getting to know the world of healthcare is a bit like learning the Russian alphabet – overwhelming as a concept, but simply a case of getting used to the new sounds!
What’s more, the team here benefits from its diversity of career experience including ex-journalists, ex-lab scientists, former sell-side analysts, digital media and strategic healthcare communicators, as well as those from generalist financial PR backgrounds. The team also has many PhDs and those who have studied science at a high level – so there is always someone to ask when concepts are unclear. Along the way I’ve also found that being a generalist has had its benefits too - we regularly communicate with non-healthcare specialists and a key part of my role is making the science understandable at all levels.
Number 2: It’s such a niche sector – will every day look the same?
Switching from working for a broad range of companies including retail, finance and real estate to purely healthcare felt like a bit of a leap. I feared that that there might be a lack of day-to-day variety. Yet I couldn’t have been more wrong – healthcare encompasses a huge range of subsectors: from biotech, medtech and digital health, to think tanks, investment funds, and care home providers. The projects I work on are extremely varied, as are the sizes of the companies – large to small and, particularly in these COVID-19 times, it’s been really interesting to see companies in the space adapt and innovate to try and address the huge challenges caused by the pandemic.
Number 3: What if my PR experience isn’t relevant?
I think it’s a common experience to worry that your first experience in a particular role might not be replicable anywhere else. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to apply my previous financial PR experience in this new sector, but once again, I needn’t have worried. The fundamentals of public relations are, of course, the same for all public and private clients, irrespective of industry. I was relieved that as I began to get my head into the new terminology, the core activities of creating clear messages and delivering strategic advice to clients remained the same.
In short, these past two years have shown me that those initial worries weren’t needed. An agency like Consilium works best with a range of experiences and perspectives, and it’s great to be part of such a supportive, energetic and diverse team.