Lindsey CarnettLindsey Carnett

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many healthcare topics into the shadows. Now, as we leave those dark days behind us, other healthcare topics are having their time in the spotlight.

Dialogue has become more intense and, in some cases, polarized or politically charged, particularly when consumers and citizens are discussing issues that affect their everyday lives. One such topic is the question of “what is a woman?” The current contenders for Prime Minister in the UK are consistently asked this, as well as many other lawmakers. We’re seeing this discussion in the USA too, and it’s important for marketers that their messaging and response to this topic is inclusive. Another topic that offers a similarly charged dialogue is when talking about menstruation.

For marketers, it’s important that they get the messaging right. With so many politically charged topics—trans rights, abortion and access to services just three of them—what can communications professionals do to reduce stigma and create balanced messaging? Here are 10 straightforward points for consideration:

Clear, direct language that cuts out the jargon. We live in a world where there’s so much being said, and this can be confusing for the consumer. Break down barriers by communicating clearly with easy, direct language, especially in a healthcare setting where it can often be daunting and intimidating for the customer.

Focus on the voices of the patient. Personal and authentic messaging works best and can help you connect with your audience. When it comes to healthcare, sharing the experiences of the patient, whether good or bad, is an effective way of creating an honest and real campaign.

Conduct in-depth audience and consumer research. What do your customers want and expect from your client? Doing the hard work and conducting in-depth research from the outset can set you up for a focused and successful campaign.

A mix of research. Conduct a mix of qualitative and quantitative research that can help shape your messaging. Reaction to the news agenda and the topics that are making waves is a particularly good idea.

What’s cutting through? Take an interest in the political and social stories that are getting traction.

What’s the mood politically? Are there any potential changes on the horizon that could affect your campaign or client relationship? Keep a close eye on what’s happening politically at the local, state, and federal level.

What have other brands done? Pay close attention to your competitors and the challenges and pitfalls they have faced. This should form a key part of your market research.

The legal landscape. Don’t forget to also see if there are any past or upcoming legal challenges that could influence the language you use or the lobbying that you may want to undertake.

Reputational risk to the brand. Ensure that your client is aware of and has considered any risk to their reputation before embarking on a new campaign. Have a crisis communications strategy in place with robust measures that can be used to defend them from any drama.

Be clear in your goals. Above all, be focused and have clarity on what you want to achieve. The messaging, audience targeting, types of content and overall success story should be at the front of your mind.

No matter what the message in the healthcare communications sector, it must be well crafted considering all key audiences. Shooting from the hip is sure to land your organization in hot water given the cancel culture, political landscape and key stakeholders ready to pounce on a communications misstep.


Lindsey Carnett is CEO & President of Marketing Maven, a full-service integrated marketing agency that executes healthcare publicity, market research and digital/content marketing campaigns. [email protected]