PR’s Top Pros Talk COVID – Gil Bashe
Gil Bashe Managing Partner, Finn Partners Global Health Practice, on Transparency + Timeliness = Trust
Transparency + Timeliness = Trust. This equation is crucial for businesses and communicators as they transform due to the accelerated change brought on by COVID. Will these changes be permanent? Gil shares his take for communicators and shares insight into the tidal wave of change within our healthcare system.
He also addresses the importance of getting your leadership communicating effectively through the media during these troubled times.
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DOUG: I’m here with Gil Bashe who got some really provocative thoughts about the changes in our communications industry from the COVID crisis and whether they’re here to stay. Gil, Why don’t you jump in.
GIL: You know Doug we were talking just a few moments ago about the shift in our attitude toward work and we see around us, everybody responding to what’s going on, the concern about our economy, but ultimately culture drives performance. And I think that whether it’s on the client side or the agency side, whether it’s on the customer side, we’re seeing people become adaptable very quickly. But there are certain truisms that are not going to go away.
We’ve moved very quickly as a society to a digital platform. We’ve moved very quickly to a remote platform. We have seen certainly on our side, I think other organizations, have seen people become incredibly productive almost immediately when they shifted from a set work environment to a remote work environment. So I can say I think, with quite a great deal of confidence, these changes are here to stay. Now they’re not here to stay exactly the way they are right now. What they’re here to stay is, the changes that we’ve seen are going to morph into yet another environment.
DOUG: So what is that new environment going to look like?
GIL: we’re going to see a blend of something that’s very critical that has made remote successful for most organizations and that is the bond of connection between an employer or a community and its larger employee community has grown on one hand it’s remote and it’s virtual, on the other hand it’s grown stronger. And I don’t think the distance is actually tearing us apart. I don’t think we’re really facing social distancing. I actually think we’re morphing into what is physical distancing correct more than ever before. So I think these changes are here to stay, and I think that we now need to consider the next great challenges as organizations. What is it to create a best place to work remotely, virtually.
DOUG: You’re talking about how agencies are changing and how they communicate but there are enormous changes coming to the healthcare industry as well. Can you share some of those?
GIL: So it’s not one size fits all in the health sector, and It’s very clear. There are many doctors who are seeing patients day in day out have moved to a digital platform. They’ve moved to Doxy, they’ve moved to telehealth aspects, and they’re finding that to be effective. And you know as a patient, I think that patients have been weaned on sitting in waiting rooms sometimes waiting for their doctor for an hour, who hasn’t had that experience? All of us. And I think we enjoy, you know, sort of being in a virtual waiting room where we have our home around us and can do other things until the doctor’s ready to see us. I think that we’re going to see telehealth really become part and parcel of our system. I was on a conversation with Amy Abernathy who is the deputy commissioner of FDA. She oversees a lot of FDA’s digital work, and she said to the audience that component of what the FDA is regulating is here to stay. It’s not going to go back at any point. So one, telehealth is here, I think what you’re going to see though is hospital systems actually start to invest heavily in developing their own telehealth networks. But I do want to touch on something that is blossoming right now as critical. The U.S. health system is predominantly an economic driven system of slow to change. COVID-19 has pushed it to places it was uncomfortable going and is now going very quickly. An example of that, implementation of artificial intelligence, much faster. Digital health platforms is being sort of like first in before you get care, accelerating telehealth, we talked about it, accelerating digital therapeutics that track if you’re taking your medication, or if you’re a COVID-19 patient you’ve been released from the hospital how are you doing, what’s going on, that’s going to be part of primary care and also countries that have used GPS and tracking you, tracking your health system, not checking you like “where are you Doug?” Tracking systems actually have a much lower rate of morbidity and mortality.
DOUG: Yeah that gets to a whole political debate, There’s so much change in we’re seeing actually both in the telehealth area, reducing anxiety. TV is increasingly important in how health organizations and brands are communicating this to customers and prospects and we had a survey we found that PR people, over 80%, thought it was more important now, because of COVID, to get your CEO, to get your leaders out there on TV. What are some of your best practice tips, as we get to wrapping this up, to get your spokespeople out, and how are you helping your clients with the messaging and getting that communication out there.
GIL: So first of all the first thing you said I think is critical. People should look at your survey again and again. I think you and your organization have a very good finger on the pulse of communications because you’re working across so many corporations large and small and are doing such great work. So I would say that you often have an inside view of what’s going on. Why is it important that the CEO out there right now? It’s a question of transparency and timeliness equate to trust, and the more company CEOs are transparent about the situation, what they and their communities face, the more we as employees and customers lean in and believe them. So that’s a very important part of the communication. We’re seeing a lot of CEO communication, if you look at Google or Twitter or many of our own clients that are involved in conversation. People now have shifted their band of trust onto elected officials to corporate leaders. And why? It’s part of our community. We see ourselves as citizens of great nations, but we also see ourselves as citizens of great employers and these great employers are sub nations, and then brands are even sub nations. So we want to hear from our employers or employers. We also want to hear from the leaders of great brands. What are you doing? How are you dealing with this? That’s an indicator of how well our economy will do. What do I recommend? You know, I initially felt that the COVID-19 period would shift, and we would start to see media get tired of COVID-19 and want to go back to a little more mainstream reporting. That’s not the case. No, there is obviously continued a natural obsession with all things COVID-19, but it has morphed. We’re talking less about the virus right now, and more about how does this relate to COVID-19. How is the delivery of milk to your home relate to COVID-19, how is yogurt production relate to COVID-1. So the tie of the story between how does this relate to this, the old Sesame Street like which one doesn’t belong, is becoming how do you make it belong to COVID-19, and that’s something we need to be wary about.
DOUG: Yeah and at all times I think journalists have really found their purpose again, their mission. 87% of them we surveyed said they’re open to speaking to brand spokespeople which is the highest it’s ever been. Gil you’ve been fantastic, great insights, continued success. And I know the organizations you work with get great confidence from the advice that you provide to them. Thanks for being with us.
GIL: Thank you so much.