How PR is Paving the Way for Healthcare

More educational, more awareness building

When Marina Maher Communications (MMC) was tasked with growing Galderma’s aesthetic and corrective brands, the firm turned to the deeply emotional relationship between mother and daughter.

Such a campaign is indicative of MMC’s PR-focused approach to healthcare creative. Traditionally, pharmaceutical and healthcare advertising has fit a certain mold and followed a certain formula in order to sell a product. But all that is starting to change.

A 20-year veteran of healthcare communications, CLIO Health juror and MMC executive director Diana Littman sees the health sector defined by the very real, life-changing issues that are at the core of any healthcare creative.

“A lot of the work we do in healthcare in solving real tangible problems, not necessarily the problems we didn’t realize we had,” said Littman. “The beauty of healthcare is that it’s problem-solution based. The issue with healthcare is that you don’t want to just have a problem-based relationship.”

Enter a two-fold need for a deep arsenal of human insights and creativity. Whether dealing with diabetes diagnosis and treatment or women’s issues, healthcare communications needs to build long-term relationships with target audiences.

“It’s about truly having an understanding of the lives you’re trying to reach, the lives they’re living, the lives they want to live, and then becoming a part of the fabric of those lives,” said Littman. “Being close to those human insights creates emotional connectivity, and we can then deliver incredibly rich, compelling, educational content that is both attention grabbing and useful.”

The Galderma #MomGenes campaign, for example, was rooted in research about women’s thoughts and fears about aging. To foster a positive dialogue about aging, as well as the prevention and treatment options available, MMC tapped into the mother-daughter bond and the wisdom that mothers pass down to the next generation. By asking women to recreate old photos of their moms and share them on social media, MMC ignited conversations that addressed embracing their own beauty and that of their mothers, in addition to the beauty of aging like them.

This educational and useful content is the crux of the healthcare PR world. And although traditional healthcare advertising once focused on selling pharmaceutical products, the industry has shifted to embrace a more PR-based approach to health creative, much like that of the #MomGenes campaign. With the vast amount of information available to consumers and patients, creatives now face a responsibility to engage consumers and help them make better-informed healthcare decisions.

“In the world of earned communications and PR, the work that we have always done has been value-add based — more educational, more awareness building,” said Littman. “The rest of the industry has seen the value in that and now can see beyond selling a product.”

Entries for the 2016 CLIO Health Awards are now open. The first deadline for submissions is July 15. For more information, please call 212.683.4300 or visit