February 14, 2023

Five trends that will impact corporate communications programmes in pharma and biotech in 2023

Some pharma and biotech companies still find themselves in the spotlight post-COVID, others are struggling to be heard through the noise. Corporate communications is vital to help shape your business’s reputation in the minds of stakeholders.  Here are five factors that will impact corporate communications programmes in 2023.

1. It wouldn’t be a 2023 trends list without… AI (Artificial Intelligence), specifically, ChatGPT

ChatGPT is an amazing technology that’s made substantial waves in the industry already this year. It’s basically a virtual assistant that is designed to simulate human conversation answering your questions in real-time. But it’s not just for chit-chatting, ChatGPT has some serious potential when it comes to corporate communications. For example, it can help you create high-quality and engaging content like blog posts, articles, and social media posts and even meta descriptions. Plus, it can give you valuable insights on your target audience, allowing you to create more effective campaigns and be more strategic with your ad spend and targeting.

However, like any platform, it is only as good as the input. In corporate communications, it is vital that you understand what your audience need and want from you, what you have the credibility to say and find the sweet spot in between. Every piece of content needs to ladder back to your overall business strategy. Churning out a load of content because it’s easy to do so, is not going to deliver the same impact as ensuring each asset has a very deliberate role to play in building your reputation among audiences. Importantly, human input and oversight is still a vital part of the communications process. As Google found out this month with their AI platform, Bard, errors can be extremely costly to your reputation and share price.  We can all be reassured, communications expertise is still required… for now 😊

ChatGPT isn’t the only AI tool helping to automate some aspects of corporate communications.  The ones we are enjoying playing with at the minute include Beautiful.ai for presentations and Pictory for videos.

ChatGPT and other AI tools have proven to be a powerful tool already, they should be used with caution and in combination with human expertise and industry-specific knowledge to make sure that the content responds to your audience needs and it is compliant to current laws and regulations.

2. A trend that will continue growing is ‘personalisation’

Thanks to advancements in technology, companies can now gather and analyse a vast amount of data to tailor their communications efforts to specific audiences.  With the help of AI and machine learning, these efforts will result in even higher conversion rates and better external stakeholder engagement.

Personalisation also extends to the way that companies are engaging with employees. Employee engagement strategies need to be designed to reach and impact everyone, regardless of where and how they work:

  • A hybrid communications strategy that feels relevant to people working from home and in the office
  • Mobile optimised content across all internal (as well as external) channels
  • Multi-channel approach and therefore multi-dialogue formats to reach people on messaging platforms, as well as in-person and on emails
  • A recognition that external comms and content is consumed by employees – and that they are your most valuable (and potentially critical) ambassadors

3. Not going anywhere any time soon…authenticity and impact

Stakeholder scrutiny of health companies has never been higher. Companies need to have a positive social impact, act with transparency and be honest when something isn’t good enough.

Corporate communicators need a clear plan of how they are going to build an authentic narrative using traditional health comms practices, as well as the more modern approach of building online authority. This goes hand in hand with a contingency plan to be activated when things go wrong.

2023 will see the continuation of a lot of noise. People are both overloaded with information and asking more questions than ever before. In an age of misinformation and fake news, transparency and honesty are valued.  Creating a smaller amount of content that genuinely meets the needs of your audiences, in a variety of formats, is going to add more value than the old fashioned ‘broadcast’ approach of days gone by.

It is well documented that most stakeholders want to hear from the leadership of companies and health is no exception.  This requires a change in the way the C-suite communicate with the outside world.  Health company leaders need to find the balance of the personal and professional.  In a highly regulated sector, communications must be considered but to engage audiences they need to show up in a human way. Corporate communications plays a vital role in this.

4. Speaking of honesty, communicating about a business’s sustainability programme is an essential part of a corporate communications strategy

Saving energy and meeting waste targets are table-stakes. Stakeholders expect that you are doing this as a matter of course. An ambitious framework for ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance)  should be an integral part of every business growth strategy.

This is one area where you put the above trend into action. Very few companies in any sector have completely nailed their ESG programmes.  It is vital to communicate on meaningful actions that are being taken, whilst being honest about what you can and will do better in the future.  An Impact Report or infographic detailing action is a good asset to make public on a regular basis.

5. Defending the value of corporate communications in the face of budget pressures

When faced with budget pressures, it can be that priority is given to product and therapy areas over corporate communications.  However, as we’ve said, most stakeholders buy in to the people and companies behind a product (as long as the product stacks up). Good corporate communicators can take various aspects of a business including therapy areas, services and purpose and thread it all together in a meaningful narrative that builds the reputation of the company.

Making sure that robust metrics are in place for corporate communications activities is of course essential to demonstrating value and Return on Investment (ROI).  Using meaningful impact measures such as conversion rates, tracking pixels and dwell time, you can then measure the impact of your content plan, asset by asset.

If company-wide cost savings are required, corporate communications has a vital role to play in planning and implementing communications.  Most of us will have experienced the fall out of changes at work that lack good communication, and it isn’t pretty.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, saying anything publicly about a pharma or biotech company can be unnerving; putting ourselves into the spotlight means more scrutiny from stakeholders.  However, saying nothing leaves a void for people to fill with their own narratives. Corporate communications experts can build reputation with external and internal stakeholders through a planned, consistent narrative – with one eye on the risk/ benefit ratio.

If you’re looking for ways to make more impact with your corporate communications programme, we’d love to help – staycurious@curioushealth.io.

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