A New Mindset: Healthcare Reputation and Corporate Citizenship
We think it’s time for healthcare companies to stand up, to become the interlocutors of institutions and partners of patients. In order to become trusted partners, they must work on corporate reputation to change the way civil society and institutions perceive them.
The industry must work jointly in order to plan a common reputation management project because patients, while becoming more and more influential, are losing trust in pharma companies.
“Healthcare is becoming patient-centric and patients do not rely on the pharmaceutical world.”
Healthcare companies still face reputation issues and a common effort to improve performance should be initiated. It is about creating shared value in a world where the relationship between business and society has changed and calls for a deeper level of collaborative social innovation.
Companies should no longer be seen as the creators of problems, but instead as solution providers.
From our recent survey featured in the e-book ‘You Share We Care‘ it is clear that managers think that disease awareness is relevant and HCPs are a priority in their communication strategies, but two-thirds of respondents think that reputation management is important and is becoming more and more crucial.
Moreover, it is time for companies to enhance how they communicate about the social impact of their actions, and to reinforce how they engage socially, so as to shift how society currently perceives given industries.
Indeed, the MSLGROUP survey shows that “45 managers out of 70 believe that CSR is an integral part of their communication strategy”, yet the public may not be fully aware the industry holds that view. In order to strengthen their commitment, companies have to move from philanthropy to purpose, as a company’s purpose must be placed at the core of their actions and activities.
In recent years, people have become more and more sensitive to the value behind a brand and therefore companies need to increase their reputation management strategies. In order to help companies communicate their value, MSLGROUP has recently launched a new approach: PurPle, a global offer helping business leaders drive positive change by catalyzing collaborative social innovation and grass-roots change movements.
At the moment, the loss of trust is critical; some examples of this are:
- Food health claims have decreased, potentially precisely because public authorities no longer believe their veracity. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in food scandals and this has inevitably led to heightened fears about food-related diseases.
- Sometimes, companies invest in CSR and education, but the general public does not recognize this effort. They simply think that it is easy for large pharma companies to do this because they have a lot of money.
- Managers who took part in our Geneva healthcare conversation debated the future of the industry (read our blog post on it ‘Healthcare’s New Ecosystem: Power to the Patients‘). In order to gain trust, companies should be very transparent, clear and authentic: they should not hide that they are business-oriented. It is important to work on evidence-based communication. There is also a need to define what evidence is and how to prove and demonstrate innovation.
“We should shift from late cure to prevention, but how do you put money into prevention? How do you make it tangible?”
On the agri-biz side, public opinion is focused increasingly on environmental sustainability, and agriculture is one of the most closely-watched industries. The public is also concerned about the impact of food production on health (e.g. water pollution, air pollution, etc.)
Loss of Trust
In recent years, the agriculture industry (especially its chemical arm) has come under increasing attack, accused of damaging the environment and people’s health. At the same time, the industry has sometimes failed to correct false information, or indeed highlight the real benefits of chemical science in agriculture.
Consequently, many consumers lack confidence in – or at least are suspicious of the industry, making it even more important that the agriculture industry change its communications approach in order to become a trusted interlocutor.
Today companies “don’t have to be afraid any more” of adding scientific fact to their arguments when addressing civil society, even if it is hard to translate technical terms into everyday language.
“The challenge is to transform scientific content into something easy and appealing.”
What Is Needed
A new communication mindset is required with regard farmers and consumers. In order to achieve that, companies have to define some key messages to use in communication and try to explain them in an effective way. Since B2B communication is not sufficient, B2C meets the need to voice the sustainability of this industry explaining how evolution improved people’s lives in recent decades.
To succeed in communication with consumers (and with the public in general), the agriculture industry has to also change the language it uses, undertaking a process of “emotionalization”. This means that the messages should be presented in an easier, conversational language that captures people’s attention and directly involves them in such key themes. Agriculture is too important for the collective to remain only in a technical context and the agriculture industry has to face the challenge of extending the discussion to the whole of society.
The lack of science-based information over recent years has, in fact, provoked a “polarization” of the debate, and we are now seeing a strong contraposition between people who accept innovation in agriculture and people who reject it
(E.g. organic vs. traditional cultivation, GMOs debate, etc.)This discussion, often not based on science, is not positive for industry and consumers. Companies have to be more proactive in the debate, explaining that the solution lies at the heart of the two approaches = sustainable technology.
“We need to open a real dialogue: from a defensive attitude we need to move to being more proactive”
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