Books to change the way we approach our work in healthcare and pharma communications

In my drive to work differently, I’m always looking for fresh takes on routes to success. In my recent reading, I’ve found three gems that have given me plenty to think about and act on in my everyday working life. Here’s the third.

Communicate in a Crisis – Kate Hartley 

The ever-impressive Kate Hartley shares perspectives developed through her formidable PR crisis management experience in this brilliant book. She explores how to understand, engage and influence consumer behaviour to maximise brand trust in the different and contemporary, always-on, surround-sound media world we inhabit.

Communicate in a Crisis examines how behaviours have changed and the ever-perplexing question of why people like to kick a brand when it’s down. Hartley covers hot topics including the public’s diminishing trust in an increasing volume of fake news, the rise of influencers and the “I want it now” society. There’s robust advice and insight from luminaries in the industry as well as case studies we can all learn from.

If business leaders that you advise aren’t yet convinced of the need for social media training and the power of communication through these channels, I’d say that putting a copy of this book in their hands will change their minds. Hartley takes a measured and evidence-based approach, looking at real examples of issues created or exacerbated through social channels. She considers the cost of media training and the proportion spent on social, allowing us to weigh this against the far-reaching impact of poorly conceived posts or lack of engagement. Just because a powerful individual at the head of a business doesn’t think social media matters, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world will fall in line.

The book cites research showing that, on average, a company loses 5% of its shareholder value over the year following a major crisis. But organisations that prepare thoroughly and rehearse scenarios, so that they are able to handle these critical situations as well as possible, ultimately outperform and gain an average of 25% in value. Those that don’t typically lose close to 30% of their value and eject their CEO. It’s a powerful statistic for leaders of organisations who could one day be in charge in such a scenario, and for those of us in the communications sector who seek to advise them.

In fact, at The Difference Collective, we’re big advocates of not just waiting for a crisis or a specific launch or milestone to cram in some last-minute media training. We firmly believe, just like a well-oiled motor, media training is something which helps keeps an organisation’s engine happily ticking over. Of course, crises happen and that is where a strategic crisis comms plan really does come into its own. But we think every organisation should be scheduling in media training a number of times a year and, as Hartley reveals, the benefit will far outweigh the expenditure.

This book is a vital read for the significant and highly relevant lessons it offers in how to navigate a crisis – of any scale – in these Different times.

Read Angie’s reviews of two other recommended titles for working differently:

The Win Without Pitching Manifesto – Blair Enns

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson


About the author

Angie, Founder, has worked in healthcare communications for nearly 30 years, ultimately building one of the most successful UK healthcare consultancies. Throughout her career, she has constantly looked to do things differently and make a difference to the healthcare communications industry.

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