Understanding the “who” in healthcare communications has always been critical, but it is becoming more complicated than ever to really pinpoint who the “who” really is. No, I am not talking about delving into the psyche of Dr. Seuss' famous community. I am talking about identifying the person, group, or entity that should be at the center of our communications, the audience who will truly influence perception and adoption.
Let's take a step back: it is a common saying in the healthcare industry that companies are looking to foster a “right drug, right patient, right time” approach. As communicators, we need to take cues from this mindset and migrate to a model that targets the right audience, with the right message, at the right time. A simple process, but one that starts with the complex proposition of understanding “who” we should be communicating to and influencing.
At first glance, it looks like we know exactly who the “who” is. It is media, doctors, and patients. We spend time prioritizing the people on the front lines of a therapeutic area and then move to the next step: message development. Sometimes, we even start with message development first without honing in on the “who.” We know what we want to communicate and that's most important. This approach may have worked in the past, and in some situations may still produce results. But, in environments where there are multiple players vying for attention, we need to target communications to the core audience who is driving dialogue, influence, or adoption.