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The Patient Communications Review

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The Patient Communications Review

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were the pyramids, or the Burj Khalifa. In 2008, thousands of Macedonians planted six million trees in one day, but that’s beside the point. Most good things take time.

The Government’s Patient Capital Review will identify the barriers that prevent growing UK businesses from accessing long-term finance. HM Treasury, along with a number of our clients, recognise that innovation must be fostered and developed. Building commercially successful, sustainable companies is a process that will, in most cases, play out over a number of years.

The FCA also recognises that short-termism is bad. The final report on its Asset Management Market Study released this week discourages active managers from a pursuit of short-term returns against benchmarks in favour of enduring stewardship.

While much of the financial services industry is extremely vocal on the benefits of a long-term approach, there is still a dominant focus on immediate results in the press. Given it’s the media that drives so much short-termism, how do we keep PR campaigns relevant and responsive to the news agenda, while enhancing reputations over the long-term?
Success stories take time to build and good PR campaigns are no different. The answer is patience, in the form of careful planning and time investment:

  • PR is not a quick fix: You can’t switch PR on and off. If you want to build awareness and trust among your target audience it will take time to achieve a level of credibility. While it is tempting to put a campaign on hold to save time and money, you will soon drop out of people’s memories.
  • Invest in journalist relationships: Journalists appreciate time taken to explain complex themes or provide quick quotes within tight deadlines. Time spent helping journalists new to the industry or to a particularly beat will be remembered. Relationships will become increasingly productive as the journalist and spokesperson progress in their careers, and early support will be reciprocated.
  • Create campaigns with longevity: Quick wins are all too attractive when the pressure is on, but a well-structured PR campaign has longevity. Avoid commenting haphazardly and in a way that isn’t linked to business objectives. Design campaigns in phases which build upon initial activity and ensure you have the ideas to sustain a campaign for its life to meaningfully influence perceptions.
  • Climb the rankings – Quotes and other forms of placed content can significantly improve a company or spokesperson’s SEO ranking. This is a long, hard slog and cannot be achieved overnight. Google will respond best to ongoing coverage on well-regarded news sites, so plan for the long-haul.
  • Plan for the worst – “Hope for the best, plan for the worst” – Jack Reacher (read the books, don’t watch the film). Crises can instantly damage reputations that have taken years to craft. Ensure you have contingences in place to protect your brand against reasonable threat scenarios.

The pace at which information is disseminated and discussions evolve is lightning fast. Careful planning and time well spent will deliver an insightful, focused communications campaign which meaningfully raises profile. If things feel rushed it is quite likely you are living in the modern world of PR! A Patient Communications Review can’t hurt.

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