PR’s Top Pros Talk…Tips for 2021 – Emily Poe
Emily Poe – Chief Integration Officer, W2O
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About the Host:
Host: DOUG SIMON
Guest: EMILY POE
DOUG: Emily, thanks so much for being with us. And we’d love to start with your top recommendation for communicators in 2021.
EMILY: In 2021 my top recommendation for communicators is first and foremost, listen to and understand your audiences. Do it as much as possible in real time. There has never been a moment in history, I think, where people are getting information quickly, it’s making them emotional, they’re responding to it. And so really understand all of the different elements of how your audiences are understanding and experiencing the world before you communicate.
DOUG: And that’s especially important with all the work you do in the healthcare space, with it being literally life and death issues for so many people in the audience. How has that affected the workflow that you have and the advice that you’re giving to your clients?
EMILY: Yeah, at W2O Group our focus is primarily on healthcare, and our approach to communications is truly founded in following the data from scientific and medical clinical data to the data and analytics that inform our understanding of our audiences and how and with what messages should we most effectively reach them. So, we’ve been using our analytics very heavily since March to help us guide our clients to shifts to more digital social communications channels, really understanding what messages to deliver and in which channels. We’re spending a lot of time so that we can also measure quickly what is working and what isn’t and allow them to pivot and change with the environment. I mean, we are all… pivot and changes, I think that’s the phrase of 2020, right? And it’s been particularly that way in healthcare.
DOUG: That’s interesting, and obviously you’ve won major awards for the digital work that your team does. Congratulations on that. What are some tips, advice that you have to be able to get clients to take the advice you’re suggesting as an agency? Obviously, you have the strong reputation, record, relationships, but what are some things that people are watching this can say, oh, we should do more of this one in 2021?
EMILY: Well, what we’ve been doing, and the work that we’ve been doing over the past few months really has actually just been an acceleration of the work that we were already focused on as part of our digital transformation for our clients and customers. Healthcare, and particularly the pharma sector is typically fairly conservative. So, we have been pushing clients to move towards a more digital and social and very client specific audience, specific tailoring of messages and content. What we found is now they’re actually more receptive because disruption is sort of an opportunity to innovate and change. It gives us the opportunity to write a new playbook. And that’s really what we’ve been finding this year. So, we do have case studies with measurable, demonstrable impact and results. And now that we have some of those use cases, it’s easier to bring some of our more conservative clients along with us.
DOUG: And that’s a really interesting point that for agencies, obviously, disruption and the extra challenges are really an opportunity for innovative thinking because survival could be at stake for some business entities. How about on the client side? Any recommendations for what they might want to be doing differently and better in 2021, which hopefully will be a saner year and safer year for so many people?
EMILY: Exactly. There are a few different recommendations I would have. First and foremost goes back to that playbook. Like, let’s throw out the old playbook. We’ve seen that understanding the audiences’ pivoting and paying close attention to how audiences are seeing themselves in your content. We’ve seen that that sort of authentic, credible communications is paying off really well. People are people. Our audiences may be seen as customers, they may be patients, they may be professionals or employees, but they’re still people. So, the more we can communicate credibly and authentically without the corporate voice the brands speak, the more success that we’ve had in 2020, and I think that people are expecting that. And I’d like to see our clients embrace the ability to put more of their own humanity into their communications. And that’s absolutely something that we’ve seen work in 2020, and I’d love to see us continue to do that in 2021.
DOUG: That’s a really interesting insight because we’ve experienced a similar thing with the broadcast work we’ve done in surveying TV producers. And what they tell us is hearing from brand spokespeople makes the organization more authentic. And 87% of TV producers on local news stations are open to interviewing brand spokespeople. Also, the fact that they’re doing it from frequently their homes, these different environments, makes it much more authentic as a communication than being in a studio which seems just by its nature not to be a real environment that people know. Any final thoughts or advice you want to leave our audience with as we wrap up the conversation? It’s been great to talk to you.
EMILY: Thank you. For us in healthcare, I think what we’re starting to turn towards as we see vaccinations happening, which is amazing and great, and we’re very involved in building the vaccine confidence, we’re kind of across the industry. But as we’re seeing vaccinations happen, a focus of ours is what return to care will look like. So, how are we helping our clients connect patients with treaters as people can be more confident going back to sort of normal treatment for non-COVID related healthcare issues? And I think across the industry, it gives us an opportunity because I think, not just us in healthcare, but other industries, too, are going to be thinking about what does the new new normal look like for returning to hopefully a saner, more normal life that is not going to be the same as what it was in 2019. So, the more we can kind of take those learnings from 2020 and understand what worked, understand how to make sure that we have more diverse representation in the content we’re putting out, who we’re putting out there to talk about what’s happening in the world. All of those elements are things that we should be thinking about as we move into 2021.
DOUG: Great. That’s awesome. And beyond diverse representation, it’s having diverse representation in the planning and the strategy as well would be so important. Thanks so much for spending time with us. Great stuff.
EMILY: Thank you.