Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Healthcare Media

Healthcare media as they are referred….
Journalists are appointed for specific beat like business, education, crime, political, etc. Each beat specific journo reports stories & news related to that specific beat. They network, specialize and understand the sector. Healthcare media or journo are the ones who report on news related to healthcare, health policies, new technologies in treatment, etc.

With the advent of competition between publications it became obligatory for media houses to assign journalists dedicated to report news on this sector, earlier city beat journalists reported on those news.

Let us now try to understand this beat.
Healthcare journalist usually reports news on Health, Health Policies, New Technology Developments, Doctors in public & private hospitals operating on unique patients, new infections, government vaccination programs, etc. Basically they report on Human interest stories, everything related to humans & health. It is important to note that most of the other reporters also do such type of reporting like the education beat, crime beat, special features, etc. But the difference is they report the same story with different angle.

Here is a case study:
FOGSI (Federation of Obstetric & Gynecological Societies of India) - Adolescent Empowerment arm is conducting seminars for young girls on how to manage their health during growing years, precautions during periods, diet management, etc. These seminars are conducted in schools only for girls in the age group of 12 to 15 years.
Taking this brief into consideration, the story will be reported by a health beat correspondent, but simultaneously an education beat journalist can also report on this, coz school & education is involved. The same story can also be reported by NGO beat reporter as FOGSI is and NGO body and the seminars are also conducted for government schools. If this seminar is sponsored by some pharmaceutical company then the story will get CSR initiative angle for that pharma company, and a financial journalist can report this corporate story highlighting CSR initiatives. A feature journo can report an informative story of things to take care for teen girls during periods & maintaining diet.

The above case highlights how a story can be reported by different beat journalists. So the bottom line is a correct strategy & pitch to the right journalists. In the business of communication the correct strategy will bore fruits, just media relations cannot help.

So understand the objective of the strategy and pitch to the right journalist accordingly. Also the main aspect is to understand healthcare journalists and how they report, their style of reporting and the placement of the news in media.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Disease BRANDING !

Interesting to note, the healthcare industry works in reverse manner. Actually the main reason being, restrictions on advertising in this industry. While, it is also been argued that the Indian consumers hardly get influenced by Pharma Drug / Product advertisements, doctors promoting advts, etc. With the advent of mass media and information age, the consumer has become knowledgeable enough to decide. Now the consumer is the king coz they take their own decisions. In such scenario promoting products becomes very difficult, add to it the launch of more products in the same category creates a very competitive environment for the products/brands to survive.
So then what can be the right medium to promote / publicise Healthcare products?
These products are often managed by Product Managers more experienced in marketing and armed with MBAs. They think only on Rol, exceptionals think about MAR-COM (Marketing & Communication).

It is important to promote the disease category, brand the diseases and inform the consumers about diseases. Some of the important diseases which enjoy Brand status in the market are listed below:
  1. Breast Cancer
  2. AIDS
  3. Bird Flu
  4. Headache
  5. Sore eyes (Conjuntitis)
  6. Heart Attack
  7. Dog bite (Rabies)
  8. Diabetes Day
  9. Blood cancer (Leukemia)

Consumers are aware about these above diseases and its effects. They are empowered with knowledge to understand the symptoms, asking for help, diagnosis and treatment. Mass media gets the credit to promote among the patients/ consumers. Patients often debate with Doctors on possible treatments for these diseases.

The media informs consumers / patients and doctor answers queries, it is a two way process, which creates a lasting impact in the minds of consumers. Branding diseases also helps to create awareness resulting in more patients and diagnosis. Early diagnosis helps to provide early treatment, saving the patients lives.

Now, the time has come for ICMR to soften of restrictions which they had laid.
I won't be surprised if tomorrow patients start performing diagnosis on themselves and consult with the doctor online for help...